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.
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).