Is the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season the new normal?

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BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - As rain fell in Texas in late August with no sign of stopping, it was instantly clear that Hurricane Harvey would become the new benchmark.

Photo: Texas Military Dept

Harvey unloaded 19 trillion gallons of rain and caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage. The hurricane took lives, homes and memories from residents across the State of Texas, most notably Houston.

Everyone has a story in the aftermath of Harvey. Some were impacted, while some felt the need to help days, weeks and months later. Lance Wood with the National Weather Service worked a 16-hour shift while the water started rising to unprecedented levels in Houston.

"I was issuing Flash Flood Emergencies, but at the same time I was in communication with my wife and my daughter. They were trying to sweep water away from the backdoor because it was getting close to coming into the house," said Wood.

Three major Hurricane in less than a month did incredible, devastating damage to islands and coastlines. Tropical activity is winding down for the year, but the rebuilding process will be long for residents who have dried out.

According to Dr. Robert Korty with Texas A&M Atmospheric Sciences, "There was very little to disrupt hurricanes once they entered into the Atlantic this summer... Conditions in the Atlantic have been conducive all year for activity, the water temperatures have been above average, the wind shear -- this is important -- has been quite low," continued Korty.

30 to 50 inches of rain is highly exceptional. One factor that caused much of the rainfall over parts of Texas with Harvey was it stalling for several days. Korty said there's another factor involved.

"As the atmosphere gets a little bit warmer, and it is warmer now than it was 30 years earlier, the amount of water it can hold goes up. A result of that is, at any given point, when you have a hurricane you can actually have more rainfall coming out of it than you can when it is colder," said Korty.

Most that were impacted by Harvey did not have flood insurance. Now, Dr. Korty believes that we need to start looking at hurricane impacts differently, assessing not just by the wind and storm surge that is expected, but how much rain that will come with tropical systems.