The eye of Ike is still nearly 40 miles offshore, but The Weather Channel’s field personnel are getting tossed around pretty well. I’ve been in contact with my friends in Texas. One is in Dickinson, and she’s reported measured wind gusts in excess of 90 mph. My other friend is in the northwest part of Houston, about 20 miles from KHOU. He says its starting to get exciting there, with winds around 40-45 knots.
The highest official observation I’ve seen is from the Galveston Pleasure Pier, which had sustained winds of 43 knots with gusts to 64 knots, but it hasn’t reported in nearly an hour now. Galveston is now completely without power, and the downtown area has four feet of water. Several large fires are going, and emergency responders along the Texas coast are not currently responding to calls. We’ll see what the morning brings.
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.
The Atlantic’s rage continues. With Hurricane Ike (currently a category 4!) churning toward the Bahamas, and eventually Florida, it’s time to open a game for him. Submit your forecast at: http://funnelfiasco.com/cgi-bin/hurricane.cgi?cmd=view&year=2008&name=ike.
In Hanna news, it looks like I totally blew my forecast. The good news is that she is no longer expected to regain hurricane strength. That’s good news for the entire east coast, but especially my sister. I’m very jealous that she gets to ride out a tropical storm before I do. Just a few minutes ago, I sent her a list of last minute preparations. Hopefully she’ll follow them.
Well Gustav is ashore now. Fortunately, it is much weaker than Katrina was. From watching TV news coverage, it appears the damage is much less than I expected. The levees in New Orleans are still holding up, although the winds are splashing some water over the Industrial Canal. We’ll see how things go over the next few hours as the rain and wind continues.
The Gustav contest has been scored. The results are posted at http://www.weather.funnelfiasco.com/tropical/game/2008-gustav.html.
The focus now begins to shift to recently-promoted Hanna, and the newly developed TD 9 (likely to become Hurricane Ike in the next day or two).