Weather Blog

Dire Warnings About Hurricane Ike

Dire Warnings About Hurricane Ike
This graphic gives a relative size perspective of the storm compared to the Pacific Northwest.
Wow. In reading up on Hurricane Ike, the National Weather Service office in Houston has put out some dire warnings for the area.

But first, take a look at the incredible size of the storm. To give some gauge, I made this graphic that superimposes what Ike would be, relatively speaking, if it were over the Pacific Northwest.  Note the storm is large enough that it covers as much area as Washington through Wyoming, with rain bands extending even farther than that.

Even though the winds are about on par with a category 2/3 storm, it's the massive storm surge that has forecasters most worried. A big storm like this that has been churning out in the Gulf for so long has whipped up quite a surge of water.   Take a look at these warnings issued late Thursday night about the storm surge for the Galveston Bay area: ...STORM SURGE AND STORM TIDE...

MAXIMUM WATER LEVELS FORECAST:

SHORELINE OF GALVESTON BAY...15 TO 25 FEET

LIFE THREATENING INUNDATION LIKELY!

ALL NEIGHBORHOODS...AND POSSIBLY ENTIRE COASTAL COMMUNITIES... WILL BE INUNDATED DURING THE PERIOD OF PEAK STORM TIDE. PERSONS NOT HEEDING EVACUATION ORDERS IN SINGLE FAMILY ONE OR TWO STORY HOMES MAY FACE CERTAIN DEATH. MANY RESIDENCES OF AVERAGE CONSTRUCTION DIRECTLY ON THE COAST WILL BE DESTROYED. WIDESPREAD AND DEVASTATING PERSONAL PROPERTY DAMAGE IS LIKELY ELSEWHERE. 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. WATER LEVELS MAY EXCEED 9 FEET FOR MORE THAN A MILE INLAND. 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.

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And then, here are some other warnings that you'd never think you'd see, or ever want to see. Here is the marine water forecast for Galveston Bay:

GMZ335-120930-
GALVESTON BAY-
1109 PM CDT THU SEP 11 2008

...HURRICANE WARNING IN EFFECT...

.FRIDAY...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS EARLY...HURRICANE CONDITIONS EXPECTED LATE. NORTHEAST WINDS 40 TO 45 KNOTS WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 60 KNOTS INCREASING TO 45 TO 55 KNOTS WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 75 KNOTS IN THE AFTERNOON. BAY WATERS DANGEROUS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS IN THE MORNING...THEN SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON.

.FRIDAY NIGHT...HURRICANE CONDITIONS EXPECTED. NORTHEAST WINDS 55 TO 75 KNOTS WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 90 KNOTS BECOMING SOUTHEAST 70 TO 90 KNOTS WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 110 KNOTS AFTER MIDNIGHT. BAY WATERS DANGEROUS. SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS.

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110 knots? That is 127 mph.  To compare, I think around here in the Northwest, the greatest wind forecast I've seen on the coast is for gusts to 70 knots (81 mph) before the Dec. 2007 storm, but I could be mistaken.

Even the large city of Houston won't be spared. Look at their local forecast:

PEAK WIND GUSTS OF 95 TO 115 MPH WILL BE POSSIBLE ACROSS HARRIS...LIBERTY...BRAZORIA...GALVESTON...AND  CHAMBERS COUNTIES. WIND SPEEDS IN EXCESS OF 115 MPH WILL BE POSSIBLE NEAR WHERE THE CENTER OF THE STORM COMES ONSHORE.

VERY DANGEROUS WINDS WILL PRODUCE WIDESPREAD DAMAGE AND DESTRUCTION OF MOBILE HOMES IS LIKELY.

STRUCTURAL DAMAGE WILL INCLUDE THE MAJORITY OF MOBILE HOMES BEING SEVERELY DAMAGED. THOSE THAT SURVIVE WILL BE UNINHABITABLE UNTIL REPAIRED. HOUSES OF POOR TO AVERAGE CONSTRUCTION WILL HAVE MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING PARTIAL WALL COLLAPSE AND ROOFS BEING LIFTED OFF. MANY WILL BE UNINHABITABLE. WELL CONSTRUCTED HOUSES WILL INCUR MINOR DAMAGE TO SHINGLES...SIDING...GUTTERS...AS WELL AS BLOWN OUT WINDOWS. UP TO ONE QUARTER OF GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL.

PARTIAL ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED AT INDUSTRIAL PARKS...ESPECIALLY TO THOSE BUILDINGS WITH LIGHT WEIGHT STEEL AND ALUMINUM COVERINGS. OLDER LOW RISING APARTMENT ROOFS MAY ALSO BE TORN OFF...AS WELL AS RECEIVING SIDING AND SHINGLE DAMAGE. UP TO ONE QUARTER OF ALL GLASS IN HIGH RISE OFFICE BUILDINGS WILL BE BLOWN OUT. AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL CAUSE DAMAGE...INJURY...AND POSSIBLE FATALITIES.

NATURAL DAMAGE WILL INCLUDE ALL TREES WITH ROTTING BASES BECOMING UPROOTED OR SNAPPED. NEARLY ALL LARGE BRANCHES WILL SNAP. BETWEEN ONE QUARTER AND ONE HALF OF HEALTHY SMALL TO MEDIUM SIZED TREES
WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED...MOST COMMON WHERE THE GROUND IS SATURATED. UP TO THREE QUARTERS OF NEWLY PLANTED GROUND CROPS WILL BE DAMAGED.

--- and here is the actual forecast-forecast for Houston. (Note that even with a major hurricane approaching, it'll still hit 90 degrees there.)

.FRIDAY...TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS EXPECTED WITH HURRICANE CONDITIONS POSSIBLE. MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS. HIGHS AROUND 90. NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 35 MPH IN THE MORNING BECOMING NORTH AND INCREASING TO 30 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 70 MPH IN THE AFTERNOON.

.FRIDAY NIGHT...HURRICANE CONDITIONS EXPECTED. SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS. SOME THUNDERSTORMS MAY PRODUCE HEAVY RAINFALL. LOWS IN THE UPPER 70S. NORTHEAST WINDS 45 TO 55 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 75 MPH IN THE EVENING INCREASING TO 55 TO 75 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 100 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT. CHANCE OF RAIN 90 PERCENT IN THE EVENING INCREASING TO NEAR 100 PERCENT AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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Here is Galveston's:

.FRIDAY NIGHT...HURRICANE CONDITIONS EXPECTED. SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS. SOME THUNDERSTORMS MAY PRODUCE HEAVY RAINFALL. LOWS AROUND 80. INLAND...NORTHEAST WINDS 50 TO 65 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 85  MPH IN THE EVENING BECOMING NORTHWEST AND INCREASING TO 65 TO 85 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 105 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT.

COAST...NORTHEAST WINDS 65 TO 85 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 110 MPH IN THE EVENING BECOMING SOUTH AND INCREASING TO 75 TO 95 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 125 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT. CHANCE OF RAIN 90 PERCENT IN THE EVENING INCREASING TO NEAR 100 PERCENT AFTER MIDNIGHT.

Just wanted to post these as somewhat of a historical record and to show forecasts you hope to never see around here. You can read even more at http://forecast.weather.gov/wwamap/wwatxtget.php?cwa=hgx&wwa=hurricane%20warning

Finally, you might have heard of similar dire warnings issued before Hurricane Katrina. You would be right. (See it here)