for a more recent update on Hurricane Ike, CLICK HERE
For a Hurricane Ike Radar Loop, CLICK HERE. Navigate away from the default in the Ohio Valley and go anywhere in the nation down to street level. Hit “animate” to loop. Add clouds and lightning if you like.
There’s not much to add. Hurricane Ike is not yet ashore. I was afraid yesterday that it would get its act together prior to landfall and it looked like most of the day it was going to run out of time. And in general it has, but late tonight it suddenly got better looking and the winds were increased to 110 mph. It’s not that significant except that it appears that we have a hurricane on an uptick and not a weakening storm as it makes landfall. It is basically a wait and
see position. There was a rapid water rise ahead of the storm and the levels appear to have leveled a bit for the time being. Some of the gauges show a drop which indicates to me that they are in a strong northerly flow. But, the big surge has yet to come. In areas where the wind shifts out of the South and Southeast, that is when the big push should come. From the radar, it appears to me that the broad center will pass over Galveston Bay and points to the
east…slightly adjusted to the east and then traverse NNW toward downtown Houston. If I’m right, the west side of Houston would get lesser winds, but still damaging and from downtown east the
strongest winds. Storm surges could be very difficult up the Ship Channel and into Texas City. Storm surges will not max out for several hours. Surges are probability of 5 feet or higher are projected at 90% or greater all the way up the Houston Ship Channel and into the tributaries well inland like the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou. Friends have reported Buffalo Bayou about 50 miles inland has risen some 4-6 feet already. I have been told by several sources that gas prices in Houston were about
$3.30 a gallon. Here in Louisville many locations jacked up their prices well over $4.00 a gallon. Radio reports showed prices over $4.60 a gallon. Go figure. But the Houston Ship Channel is home to 23% of the nation’s refining capacity. Storm surges so far have actually been highest near Port Arthur and Sabine Pass at the TX/LA border where numerous other refineries exist. Most of the plants have shut down. It is unclear when they will be returning to operation. Many of the buoys have lost their moorings and are adrift. An offshore rig had reported 91 knot winds off of Galveston at 1 pm and stopped giving new data after that. Fires are reported in Galveston and no one can put them out.
I lost count of the number of tornado warnings out of Lake Charles and New Orleans at 30 and they keep adding on. Tornadoes will continue to be an issue. Louisville we will deal with that issue tomorrow and the likelihood of that sort of thing here on Sunday. Conventional wisdom suggests that we will get heavy rain and a severe threat but its not entirely clear just how great those threats are at this time. Inland flooding will be an issue in the plains as they have already been hit with heavy, flooding rains on a frontal boundary and the remnant of a tropical cyclone from the Pacific. Tropical storm warnings reach all the way to Oklahoma.
The storm has not made landfall. Surges have not reached their maximum in many areas. Much of Galveston is submerged. One thing to think about….
Houston has no zoning laws to speak of. Snow White noticed that there were about 5 clusters of building in Houston that are bigger than Louisville’s downtown. I used to work in a 65 story building that is about 5 miles from downtown. That and a large number of other buildings in downtown mainly have a glass outer surface. Hurricane Alicia blew out the majority of windows in downtown leaving up to 1.5 feet of glass in the streets. Surface winds are reported at 110mph. The winds off the deck will be much stronger. The NWS estimates 130 mph or higher. The winds whipping between building will be enhanced by the canyon effect, or Bernoulli effect or the vortex effect..whatever you want to call it. Now, the surface winds will decrease but is it is very likely that an enormous number of windows in high rise buildings will be damaged greatly. The tallest building in Houston is 80 stories. Others are close. Also…this is not the worse case scenario…believe it or not, it could be worse…but it will be very troublesome and costly. I hope that the folks who stayed on Galveston or even in Clear Lake or Texas City have not made a grave mistake. My guess is that the loss of life, and there will be some, will have been something that could have been avoided had the people heeded warnings. Basically, this is a cat 2 storm with a cat 5 storm surge potential. The water rising well before the storm really is similar to the reports in 1900. Very interesting and potentially dangerous. Can you image what Galveston would be like right now without the seawall? That’s a big difference between now and then.
Here is a roundup from the gauges at various locations regarding surge levels as of 0200Z (9pm CDT)
Galveston Bay Entrance <10 feet
Galveston Pleasure Pier fell to 7 ft at 00Z; rose back to <10Feet
Clear Lake 7 feet
Battleship Texas fell from <7 feet@22Z to 6 feet
Eagle Point <9 feet
Morgan’s Point fell from 6.5 feet@00Z to 6 feet
Port Arthur 7 feet
Sabine Pass > 10 feet
HURRICANE IKE DISCUSSION NUMBER 48
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092008
1100 PM EDT FRI SEP 12 2008
A PLETHORA OF DATA FROM NOAA DOPPLER WEATHER RADARS…NOAA AND AIR FORCE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT…AND SATELLITE IMAGERY ALL INDICATE THAT THE STRUCTURE OF IKE HAS IMPROVED MARKEDLY OVER THE PAST 6 HOURS…AND A 40 NMI DIAMETER EYE HAS BECOME PROMINENT. THE LOWEST PRESSURE REPORTED BY RECON HAS BEEN 952 MB. DOPPLER RADAR VELOCITIES IN THE NORTHERN EYEWALL AT 6500 FT HAVE BEEN AS HIGH AS 114 KT…AND A DROPSONDE IN THAT SAME AREA MEASURED A PEAK WIND VALUE OF 116 KT. MAXIMUM FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS AT 700 MB HAVE RANGED FROM 103-105 KT…AND A RELIABLE SFMR SURFACE WIND SPEED OF 90 KT WAS MEASURED IN THE SOUTHERN EYEWALL AROUND 0140Z. ALL OF THIS INFORMATION CORRESPONDS TO A MAXIMUM SURFACE WIND SPEED ESTIMATE OF 95 KT. THE LARGE EYE OF IKE HAS BEEN WOBBLING CONSIDERABLY OVER THE PAST 6 HOURS…BUT A GENERAL MOTION OF 315/10 SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN THE PREFERRED DIRECTION OF TRAVEL. SHORT TERM EXTRAPOLATION WOULD PLACE THE CENTER OF IKE ALONG GALVESTON ISLAND AND/OR THE UPPER-TEXAS COAST SHORTLY BEFORE SUNRISE SATURDAY MORNING. AFTER LANDFALL…IKE IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE MOVING AROUND THE WESTERN PERIPHERY OF A SUBTROPICAL RIDGE SITUATED EAST-WEST ALONG THE NORTHERN GULF COAST AND TURN NORTHWARD IN ABOUT 12-18 HOURS…AND THEN RECURVE RAPIDLY TO THE NORTHEAST BY 24 HOURS AHEAD OF A FAST APPROACHING FRONTAL SYSTEM. BY 36-48 HOURS…IKE MAY BECOME ABSORBED BY THE FRONTAL SYSTEM OVER THE UPPER MIDWEST. THE OFFICIAL FORECAST TRACK IS ESSENTIALLY JUST AN UPDATE OF THE PREVIOUS TRACK…AND IS DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE TIGHTLY CLUSTERED NHC MODEL GUIDANCE. IKE STILL HAS ABOUT A 6-HOUR WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY TO STRENGTHEN INTO A 100-KT MAJOR HURRICANE. EQUALLY IMPORTANT…HOWEVER…IS THE EFFECT THAT STRONGER WINDS ALOFT WILL HAVE ON HIGH RISE BUILDINGS. WIND DATA FROM LAND-BASED DOPPLER RADARS AND AIRCRAFT DROPSONDES INDICATE THAT WINDS NEAR CATEGORY 4 STRENGTH…115 KT OR 130 MPH …EXIST JUST A FEW HUNDRED FEET ABOVE THE SURFACE. THERE COULD BE A REPEAT OF DAMAGE TO WINDOWS IN HIGH RISE STRUCTURES SIMILAR TO WHAT OCCURRED DURING HURRICANE ALICIA IN 1983. THE PEAK WIND SPEED AND VARIOUS WIND RADII WERE HELD HIGHER THAN OUR INLAND WIND DECAY MODELS ARE PREDICTING DUE TO THE MUCH LARGER SIZE OF IKE. ONE SHOULD EMPHASIZE THAT IKE IS A VERY LARGE HURRICANE AND REGARDLESS OF WHERE THE CENTER OF THE HURRICANE MAKES LANDFALL…THE EFFECTS WILL BE FELT AT LARGE DISTANCES FROM THE CENTER. IN ADDITION…THE LARGEST STORM SURGE WILL OCCUR WITHIN THE ONSHORE FLOW NEAR OR JUST AFTER LANDFALL. WATER LEVELS HAVE ALREADY RISEN MORE THAN 9 TO 12 FEET ACROSS A LARGE AREA OF THE NORTHWESTERN GULF OF MEXICO…INCLUDING GALVESTON ISLAND.
FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS
INITIAL 13/0300Z 28.6N 94.4W 95 KT
12HR VT 13/1200Z 30.3N 95.4W 70 KT…INLAND
24HR VT 14/0000Z 33.2N 95.3W 35 KT…INLAND
36HR VT 14/1200Z 36.6N 92.3W 30 KT…BECOMING EXTRATROPICAL
48HR VT 15/0000Z 40.5N 86.0W 25 KT…EXTRATROPICAL INLAND
72HR VT 16/0000Z…ABSORBED BY A FRONTAL ZONE
$$ FORECASTER STEWART/BLAKE/BERG