(Bloomberg) — When Hurricane Harvey dropped 60 inches of rain onHouston in August, some described the storm as "biblical."One of America's leading hurricane scientists has now sharpenedthat assessment. 

Houston rainfall

"By the standards of the average climate during 1981-2000,"MIT's Kerry Emanuel writes in Proceedings of the NationalAcademy of Sciences, "Harvey's rainfall in Houston was'biblical' in the sense that it likely occurred around once sincethe Old Testament was written."

Emanuel's analysis attempts to answer a series of questionscritical to recovery and rebuilding in Houston andelsewhere: "Should buildings, homes, roads, and associatedinfrastructure be built in the same place again?" he wrote. Arebuilding codes, levees and sea walls tough enough for thefuture? As the world warms, every community will have tograpple with these questions on their own.

Hotter seas, more humid air

Climate scientists continue to project that as the century goeson, hotter seas and more humid air are likely to make tropicalstorms more intense. The first volume ofthe latest U.S.National Climate Assessment, released by the Trumpadministration earlier this month, reports scientistshaving higher confidence in their finding that storms willcarry more precipitation.

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