As one who looks at power outage maps frequently (living in the boonies) I can really see the total pain in the ass that restoring power to Houston will be over the next few weeks (yea, weeks). Centerpoint Energy has a good outage map in PDF form here, but I’ve taken the big bit and thrown it in this post.
The Washington Post is reporting that residents of Galveston face ‘certain death‘ if they remain in their homes for Hurricane Ike. Unlike recent storms like Katrina, Ike is going to hit Galveston and Texas at full force, somewhere around Category 3 (135mph).
“This water as it comes in could be almost like a tsunami,” Dewhurst said on CNN. “Some of our computer models put the entire island of Galveston underwater.”
One worst-case scenario for hurricane planners is a giant, Category 4 or 5 storm that strikes the heavily populated Houston area, flooding Galveston Bay and driving a wall of water up the Houston Ship Channel to overwhelm port, chemical storage and water facilities, Chertoff said. Under that scenario, the homes of 200,000 or more residents could be damaged.
“It’s coming pretty close to what that nightmare is. It’s going to be somewhat south of that,” Chertoff said. “We’re talking about real impact, not only on the refineries in question but the chemical industry and a lot of the energy and chemical resources that we depend upon in this country.”
Ike is about to leave Cuba, and when it hits the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Hurricane hunters should be flying through it again. It should start to pick a general path that can be estimated a bit better and folks along the Texas coast may have a better idea of what they should be doing this weekend.
In case you are wondering how they come up with these forecasts, it’s based in large part on the computer models and the NHC’s own skill. They publish their discussions which make for an interesting read:
THERE IS CONSIDERABLE UNCERTAINTY NEAR THE END OF THE
FORECAST PERIOD...WITH THE ECMWF AND UKMET MODELS SHOWING A
SHORT-WAVE TROUGH COMING OUT OF THE ROCKIES THAT INDUCES A RIGHT
TURN ON DAY 4. THE GFS AND NOGAPS HAVE A DIFFERENT PATTERN...WITH
MORE RIDGING EXTENDING WESTWARD TO THE NORTH OF IKE THAT KEEPS THE
HURRICANE MOVING BASICALLY WESTWARD. THE ECMWF HAS DONE VERY WELL
WITH IKE THUS FAR...AND HAS RELATIVELY HIGH SKILL IN FORECASTING
THE LARGE SCALE PATTERNS AT THE LONGER RANGES. OUT OF RESPECT FOR
THIS MODEL THE OFFICIAL FORECAST IS SHIFTED SLIGHTLY SLOWER AND TO
THE RIGHT OF THE PREVIOUS FORECAST...AND IS PRETTY CLOSE TO THE
DYNAMICAL MODEL CONSENSUS.
Again we still have to wait for the Cuban spin, the tilt the hurricane is going to take after it passes over pretty much the entire length of Cuba, but once it does, the NHC has the hurricane making a line for Galveston, Texas and nearby Houston.
Depending on how long Ike stays over Cuba, we’ll see a different ’spin’ out into the Gulf and final resting point somewhere along the US Gulf Coast. Originally it was Pensacola, then the possibility of New Orleans, but today’s computer models are sending it toward Texas (though without much accuracy).
I think we’ll have to wait until after Ike destroys Cuba before we know where it is heading next. As for my friends in the Turks, they weathered the storm though the winds were quite nuts.
Ike hit hard about 2am and blew steady at around 135mph straight in from the north until about 6am. Five of us worked hard trying to keep up with all the water pouring in through the big sliders. They held beautifully, but the wind was so strong and direct that it was just pouring in over the track. The eye passed south of us around 5:45 or 6. We never had a lull, but the wind shifted and is blowing hard (still over 100mph) out of the ENE. That’s given us a bit of a break and we were able to catch up on our bailing and mopping. Getting a bit of a rest now, though it’s still very ugly out there. House has performed exceptionally well with no structural strain, just water blowing in. We estimate we’ll be getting hurricane force winds until around 8:30 or 9, at which time we should drop down to TS force winds.
Ok, it’s still early, and Ike is a mess. It’s going all different directions so don’t run out the door just yet (unless you are in South Florida). But the current curvature of Ike puts it on a direct collision course with New Orleans. However, the computer models (which you really should examine more so than the NHC estimate) still has Ike going everywhere from Pensacola to Texas.
Hurricane Ike is the one we’ll probably be talking about for a few days. It’s a pretty major storm that will be off the coast of Miami on Monday, probably. It’s track is going in many different directions, but right now it is a category 4 (though it will weaken a bit tonight).
Where it goes > 5 days from now is a million dollar question. Will it slice across Florida or will it turn north and threaten most of the East Coast. Unfortunately we don’t have an idea. The models have just started to show a curve (though some still have it as a line drive straight into the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s going to be a crazy week for Hurricane hunters. While Gustav is turning into rain clouds, Hanna is spinning around and will be quickly followed by Hurricane Ike and then what is currently known as Tropical Depression 10. We could see some machine gun hurricanes striking the US over the next few weeks.