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September 12, 2008

Conditions deteriorating on Texas coast


The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are already rising ahead of Hurricane Ike as the giant storm closes on the northern coast of Texas and western Louisiana. Sea levels are already 5 feet above predicted tides, and forecasters are warning of an approaching storm surge that could push the water 20 to 25 feet above normal levels.

Video from the Texas coast shows beach communities are already awash. That's making WeatherBug meteorologist Joe Bartosik very nervous:

"I’m becoming extremely concerned by what I’m seeing on our own WeatherBug cameras, tidal gauges, and news clips: storm surge flooding placing communities well underwater (at least 4 to 6 feet) from Cameron, Louisiana to Galveston, Texas and the hurricane hasn’t even arrived yet! At this point, and with forecasts of a 20 to 25 foot surge, I don’t think it would be unrealistic or overly dramatic to expect extreme, if not catastrophic, storm surge damage similar to that which occurred in Katrina and Rita."

Here's how a WeatherBug camera in Galveston captured the storm surge this morning as it put water over a parking lot at Moody Gardens. Watch the parking space lane paint, and then the median strips, go under. This one will be good to watch as the storm itself moves in.

Here's the forecast for Galveston. And here are the warnings. It's quite a read.

That high water will drive miles up the bays, rivers and ship channels. Large, battering waves are expected to crash over coastal communities, with widespread damage. The warnings, as we have reported in the previous post, are dire. Anyone remaining behind in one- or two-story residences can expect "certain death," forecasters have stated.

The center of Hurricane Ike was 195 miles southeast of Galveston at 11 a.m. EDT today, moving to the west-northwest at 12 mph. It was expected to begin a gradual right turn later today, and to the north by tomorrow into the Southern Plains.

Top sustained winds had strengthened a bit overnight, to 105 mph. That's pretty close to the 111 mph threshhold for a Cat. 3 "major" hurricane, so its possible Ike could make that mark before landfall. A wind gauge 400 feet high on an offshore oil platform was reading 125 mph earlier this morning.

In the meantime, winds are rising and the barometric pressure is falling in the Houston and Galveston area. You can track conditions on this private weather station in Galveston . (First station I linked to shut down almost immediately. This link is a new one that still seems to be working).

Here is some realtime weather data from the Pleasure Pier in Galveston. Here's the tide data.

Here is the latest advisory on Ike. Here is the forecast storm track. Here is the view from space.

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:35 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes


Don't know if your wind report from 800 feet was a typo or a different reading, but there was a report of 125 mph winds (109 kt) from an oil platform at a 400 foot elevation this morning.

FR: Yep. Bad typing. Fixing it now.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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