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September 12, 2008

Havoc on the Texas coast

AP Photo David J. Phillip

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.

Spend a little time with these videos on CNN.com I recommend especially the Coast Guard helicopter rescue. Here is a photo gallery.

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.

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

Posted by Frank Roylance at 5:38 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Hurricanes
        

Comments

So, it is now estimated that 140,000 residents didn't evactuate and the death toll wasn't 140,000, so what happened to "certain death."

FR: As we have noted in subsequent posts, that warning from the National Weather Service was later revised to "face the possibility of death," and subsequent to that (as initial storm surge predictions of 22 to 25 feet began to look too high) the phrase was dropped altogether from the hurricane warning. You could argue that if the dire warning got some stubborn or foolish people to get out safely with their kids, so much the better. But I think the whole episode only reinforces my original argument - that too much hyperbole in describing these storms (such as calling a Cat. 2 hurricane a "monster") will only encourage people to dismiss all future warnings as hype. And that, eventually, will kill people. An old story about a little boy and a wolf comes to mind.

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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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