Havoc on the Texas coast
Hurricane Ike is still hours from landfall and already he has spread havoc up and down the Texas coastline. Coastal communities, including Surfside Beach are already flooded. At least one fire has broken out amid flooded beachside homes on Galveston Island (above). Coast Guard rescue crews have risked their own lives to rescue motorists caught in the flood waters as Ike's storm surge pushes inland.
The tidal data from Galveston shows that the rising water - some 7 feet above normal tides - has paused, but not retreated significantly as the cycle passes low tide. When the tide begin to rise again, the coast will feel the full impact of the surge. Forecast still call for a surge as big as 15 to 22 feet in Galveston Bay, and 14 to 17 feet for Galveston Island.
The weather data from the Pleasure Pier shows gusts to 50 mph. That will get worse. Top sustained winds near Ike's center were still 105 mph, with higher gusts. Houston has been warned to expect winds at higher altitudes to 120 mph - enough to blow out the windows of some Houston skyscrapers.
Did I mention a foot of rain and tornadoes?
Images, video and WeatherBug web cams are already showing flood waters moving up coastal streets, with waves battering waterside homes. And this is only the beginning. Ike's eye is not expected to reach the coast until late tonight or early tomorrow. Even some of those Texans who boasted they would ride it out have begun to change their minds. No wonder. Here are the Hurricane Warnings. Here's a piece of it, toned down slightly from last night's "leave or die" notice:
"NEIGHBORHOODS THAT ARE AFFECTED BY THE STORM SURGE...AND POSSIBLY
ENTIRE COASTAL COMMUNITIES...WILL BE INUNDATED DURING THE PERIOD
OF PEAK STORM TIDE. MANY RESIDENCES OF AVERAGE CONSTRUCTION
DIRECTLY ON THE COAST WILL BE DESTROYED. WIDESPREAD AND
DEVASTATING PERSONAL PROPERTY DAMAGE IS LIKELY. VEHICLES LEFT
BEHIND WILL LIKELY BE SWEPT AWAY. NUMEROUS ROADS WILL BE
SWAMPED...SOME MAY BE WASHED AWAY BY THE WATER. ENTIRE FLOOD PRONE
COASTAL COMMUNITIES WILL BE CUTOFF. COASTAL RESIDENTS IN MULTI-
STORY FACILITIES RISK BEING CUTOFF. CONDITIONS WILL BE WORSENED BY
BATTERING WAVES CLOSER TO THE COAST. SUCH WAVES WILL EXACERBATE
PROPERTY DAMAGE...WITH MASSIVE DESTRUCTION OF HOMES...INCLUDING
THOSE OF BLOCK CONSTRUCTION. DAMAGE FROM BEACH EROSION COULD TAKE
YEARS TO REPAIR.
What's ahead for Texas? Check out this video from Cuba, where Ike struck earlier this week.