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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 09/13/2008

Ike Deals Significant Blow to Texas and Gulf Coast

By Ian Livingston

Landfall at Galveston; Aftermath assessments beginning

Washington Post Coverage | Hurricane Ike Photos | Houston/Galveston Reports


25 minute radar loop as Ike officially makes landfall in Galveston at 2:10 a.m. CDT. Image courtesy Weather Underground.

Hurricane Ike fell just short of major hurricane status at landfall, but don't tell that to those in the vast area impacted by the storm. Landfall occurred at Galveston, Texas, shortly after 2 a.m. CDT. Winds at the time were sustained at 110 mph, or 1 mph shy of category 3. Due partly to the massive size of Ike, and the fact that it is still battering the region as a category 1 hurricane, it is still largely unknown what has happened in many locations.

A large storm surge has occurred from the upper Texas coast through Louisiana, and flooding even extended to portions of Mississippi and Alabama. Significant wind damage has also hit Houston proper, while widespread tree and structure damage is still ongoing over much of southeast Texas. As the storm continues to punch through the region, millions are currently without power.

Keep reading for more info on the known impacts of Ike in Texas and across the Gulf coast. For local weather info please see our full forecast, UnitedCast for tonight's game, and SkinsCast for tomorrow's season home opener.

ike2008_landfall_ir.jpg
Hurricane Ike heads into landfall at Galveston early Saturday morning. Image courtesy NASA.

TEXAS

Texas authorities are reporting that the largest search and rescue mission in the state's history is ongoing as Ike keeps rolling north.

In Galveston, large portions of the island were covered by surge waters, though it appears to have escaped a total washover, due partly to the eye passing right overhead. The location of landfall allowed the most significant storm surge, in the right front quadrant of the storm, to remain to the north of the island.

There have been several hundred rescues on and around the island according to local authorities interviewed overnight. Just how much of Ike's fury Galveston escaped is yet to be determined.

Houston found itself in the western eyewall of Ike as the storm made landfall. Winds in the area were over hurricane force, with 75 mph sustained winds reported at Houston Hobby airport. Gusts in the area neared and surpassed 100 mph. There has been extensive wind damage to the city, including numerous high-rise buildings like JPMorgan Chase Tower missing nearly all windows on at least one side.

KHOU in Houston reports Texas City, on the southwest portion of Galveston Bay, has been largely flooded but that most buildings are standing. A storm chaser in the city witnessed extreme conditions at landfall as the eyewall moved overhead.

In Beaumont, roughly 80 miles from the landfall location, winds gusted over hurricane force from midnight until 7 a.m., with a maximum recorded gust of 91 mph. Nearby, in Sabine Pass, storm surge set a new all-time record of 13.5 feet, besting storms like Hurricane Audrey in 1957 and Hurricane Rita of 2005.

Tropical storm wind warnings now extend north to Dallas and the Oklahoma border. It is likely that tree damage, some structural damage, and more power outages will occur north into this region during the day. Tornadoes will also be a threat across east Texas into Louisiana.

Heavy rains continue across the state as totals near 1 foot in some areas near the coast. Rain is expected to continue north through Texas and into the Midwest, but Ike will be picked up quickly by a system to the north and extensive rainfall flooding is not expected.

UPPER GULF COAST

In Louisiana, Ike has caused major flooding along coastal areas. Storm surge as far away as New Orleans was measured as high as 9 feet. Levees throughout the area that survived Gustav gave way with Ike. Roughly 300 miles from where the eye made landfall, thousands of homes are reported flooded in the parishes of southeast Louisiana.

In Mississippi and Alabama, roadways and low lying areas near the coast were covered with water. The event here was minor in an area plagued by hurricanes, but occurred at an incredible distance from the center of Ike.

WHAT WE STILL DO NOT KNOW

The storm is still ongoing in most places hit hardest; many response crews are waiting to head out and fully investigate. Some places along the coastline of upper Texas, Galveston Bay, and coastal Louisiana have not been reached yet. Surge flooding has also been reported well inland along rivers where ocean water backed up for miles as it was pushed ashore. The extent of wind damage to Houston and other populated ares will also need to be further assessed.

It typically takes a day or two for a real picture to emerge of what has occurred in an area hit by a storm. Because of Ike's size, the complete picture may take even longer to develop.

By Ian Livingston  | September 13, 2008; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Recaps, Tropical Weather  
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Comments

Since the National Weather Service called for "certain death" for everyone who failed to evacuate, and approximately 90,000 people did not evacuate (11,000 in Galveston county alone), does that mean that there are 11,000+ dead people in Texas?

Or does it mean that the National Weather Service has lost all credibility?

And does the credibility of forecasters who went along with the National Weather Service warning also take a direct hit?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | September 13, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

And many of those that stayed expressed their belief that God would protect them.

Does it mean God gains credibility for all those who survived?

I think we all know the answer to these questions.

Posted by: Just Q | September 13, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

@Just Q

Unfortunately, I don't believe you can conclusively and definitively say who gets credit for those who survived. I wish it were that simple.

But what I can conclusively and definitively say is that unless there are at least 11,000+ people dead (due to Hurrican Ike) in Texas, the National Weather Service was WRONG when they said "certain death" for those that did not evacuate.

Being wrong on a forecast/prediction/warning does not increase their credibility. It decreases it.

Less people will take them serious in the future should they make a similar statement. Think "The Boy Who Cried Wolf".

This isn't rocket science.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | September 13, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

West Springfield (Accotink Lake/Mixing Bowl) = rain total last 36 hours = 0.08"

Posted by: Bikerjohn | September 13, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Regardless, I think we're all glad that the death toll was so low (only 3, from what I hear). Should the NWS try their "Certain Death" statement for a Category 5 storm, I can only hope that people would still take it seriously.

As for God's impact: I certainly don't think my prayers hurt.

Posted by: mcleaNed | September 13, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Q if you had paid attention instead of waiting to second guess people who try to do their best you might have noticed something. In their special weather statement the NWS said that those who chose to not evacuate IN CERTAIN areas faced certain death. Those "certain areas" were those prone to flooding and not the entire county.

Posted by: Tom | September 13, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

@Tom

I do pay attention Tom. This is what the National Weather Service put out -
"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 WILL 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. 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."

http://weblogs.marylandweather.com/2008/09/stay_in_galveston_face_certain.html

You are mistaken Tom. I do pay attention and I read it correctly.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr. Q. | September 13, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

It appears there are two versions of that bulletin. One specified that people not evacuating "will face certain death".

Another said:

"PERSONS NOT HEEDING EVACUATION ORDERS IN SINGLE FAMILY ONE OR TWO STORY HOMES MAY FACE CERTAIN DEATH."

That one specifies only certain people, and that they MAY not WILL. I'm not sure which bulletin came first, or how quickly it was changed. Perhaps it was reworded after the original was sent out and was realized it was too broad.

Posted by: cxa | September 13, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't think "sudden death" was implied for all affected areas by the NWS/NHC predictions.

Nonetheless, Ike followed a path very similar to that of two devastating Category 4 hurricanes which impacted the same area of the Texas Gulf Coast: (1) the catastrophic 1900 Galveston hurricane [which DID result in sudden death for thousands of Galveston residents] (2) Hurricane Carla back in 1961. I suspect that NWS had the 1900 hurricane and Carla in mind when they issued that "sudden death" bulletin.

Around here, we're getting "feedback" from Ike in the form of our two-day September warm spell. Western Wisconsin had a similar warm spell which lasted about a day or two in 1961 when Carla came ashore. The remnants of Carla interacted with a cold front which had ended the heat wave the day after Carla struck. Two days after Carla came ashore, Menomonie, WI had intermittent light rain showers while areas further south near Milwaukee and Chicago experienced heavier rains.

Posted by: El Bombo | September 13, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Q: I strongly suggest you read this post from Brendan Loy so you understand how close those storm came to being a calamity for Galveston: http://pajamasmedia.com/weathernerd/2008/09/13/almost-far-worse/. Given such a razor thin margin of error, the NWS was absolutely right in putting out the advisories it did.

Posted by: Jason, Capital Weather Gang | September 13, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Given the strength of the warning's wording - which ever version - 11,000 or more people disregarded the warning.

If the wording had been less dire for people staying surely more people would have stayed leaving more at risk. It's a no win situation.

Was the wording of the warning over the top? Perhaps. I thought it was excessive given the strength of the storm. For a Cat 5 or 4 storm I think it would have been appropriate.

The fact is there will always people who think they can survive anything - regardless of the perceived credibility of the sources of warning.

Posted by: John - Burke | September 13, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm so relieved Galveston came through okay. Last night I couldn't bear to follow the news reports. I was too worried about the children and pets powerless to make their own decisions whether to evacuate.

Posted by: tinkerbelle | September 13, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Galveston barely dodged worse surge than it saw. Had the storm jogged a little further west it would have seen the northeast quad stuff. The Bolivar Peninsula, just north, appears to have suffered extreme damage .. washed over into the Bay in many places. Numerous houses and perhaps lives were lost in that area. Some images.. 1, 2.

Posted by: Ian, Capital Weather Gang | September 13, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Did Ike's landfall come at the high tide? How worse would have been conditions if Ike landed at high tide?

Posted by: John - Burke | September 13, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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