Global Water: How Big Was Barry?


In the 30 days since the first post regarding global fluids and volumes, several stories around the economic impact of liquids have emerged – but the dominant one right now in the US is around the impact of Hurricane Barry on the Mississippi river basin.

How big was Barry_ (1)In 2017 the Washington Post estimated that Hurricane Harvey deposited over 125 cubic kilometers of rainfall in the US on to four states (TX, LA, TN, KY) that receive a total of over 20,600 km^3 of rain per year (less than 1% of their annual rainfall total).  Based on the path of the hurricane and very rough estimates based on US government data – I estimate that Barry was twice the size, making it 250 km^3 of water.  In comparison – the annual discharge of the Mississippi is 151 km^3.  As always original data is available here in Google Sheets.

These metrics pail in comparison to the stocks of fresh water held frozen in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets – 26.5 and 2.8 million km^3 respectively.  Estimates about these volumes and rates of change continue to fill the news.

At the beginning of the month, the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (“PES”) refinery – with 300,000 barrels per day, was shut down after an explosion.  This came on the night of a heavy rainstorm, depositing 3″ of rain in the city – for a total of 180 million barrels, more than the 110 million produced at PES.  As part of that same storm, an inch of rain fell on Massachusetts – nearly 4.4 billion barrels.

Third party analysis of US Military spending showed that it consumed nearly 270,000 barrels per day of fuel, which would make it a larger user than most countries.

How big was Barry_



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