Hurricane Ike coming ashore

In 1900, Galveston, Texas experienced the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history.  108 years later, MSNBC is reporting that perhaps as many as 23,000 people in the city have chosen to ignore a mandatory evacuation order.  Hurricane Ike may be “only” a Category 2 storm (with winds currently at 110 mph), but the big story here will be the storm surge.  The reports I’ve heard so far indicate a 20 foot surge in Galveston, which is several feet higher than the seawall.  The first floor of many buildings are already flooded, and the eyewall won’t be ashore for several more hours.

If there is anything good about this storm, it is the fact that it won’t stall out over Texas.  HPC forecasts still show 13-plus inches of rain for the coastal area in the immediate vicinity of the eye, it quickly drops to 3-4″ into east-central Texas.  In fact, a Springfield, MO-Detroit line is forecast to receive more rain than much of Texas.

I learned something new today, too.  Jeff Masters had a write-up earlier about a measurement called ” Integrated Kinetic Energy (IKE).”  Ike’s IKE is much higher than that of Hurricane Katrina.  So what is IKE?  Basically, it is a measure of the total energy in a hurricane.  The numbers are incredibly large, too — earlier this afternoon Ike’s IKE was 149 TeraJoules, the equivalent to more than 35,000 tons of TNT.  The higher the IKE, the higher the potential storm surge.  I can see how the sum total of the energy in a storm is important, but I’d personally like to see the energy expressed in a density of sorts.  TJ/km^2 or something.  I mean, over a big enough domain, you could have a 149 TJ IKE with nothing but fair-weather cumulus.  But I don’t know much about tropical weather, so maybe I’m out to lunch?

Anyway, best wishes to everyone in eastern Texas, and especially to my two friends in the area.

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