Friday, September 12, 2008

Ike grows even larger, winds now hitting the coast

A very large and growing Hurricane Ike will make landfall overnight in Texas - scoring almost a direct hit at Cat 2/3 strength - a near worst-case scenario for the Houston/Galveston area. Normally when hurricanes make landfall the strongest winds are confined to a limited region just 20-miles wide or so near the eye wall. Ike is different. Its strongest winds begin about 20 miles from the center - and extend out another 100-120 miles. It has a structure similar to Hurricane Katrina (though Katrina was slightly stronger) - whose effects were felt some 200miles from the point of landfall.

So, New Orleans (about 200 miles from Ike's landfall) has closed its flood gates, and is now experiencing tropical storm force winds, and occasional funnel clouds. This should continue for almost 24 hours.

Galveston could be, simply, devastated. Downtown Houston will take a direct hit. The surge forecast has increased even from yesterday - and surge is expected to be 22-25 ft, with surge over 30ft possible. As the Houston NWS said yesterday, those attempting to ride out the storm on ground level in Galveston face 'near certain death'.

Prayers to all those affected, today and tomorrow.

Hurricane Ike's wind field, as of 11am today.

Maximum storm surge forecast.

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