Friday, September 12, 2008

Ike--Friday morning update

Not much seems to have changed overnight. For one thing, the likelihood of a northern turn that would spare Houston the brunt of the storm has diminished. There is still time for that but not much. Furthermore, the projected intensity of Ike at landfall has been upgraded from 110 mph to 115 mph or a minimum Category 3 hurricane. The eye is expected to pass over downtown Houston. This is bad for downtown, especially Houston's homeless population, many of whom are children, the elderly, veterans and the mentally ill; however, it will not bring the level of destruction one generally associates with more intense hurricanes. The potential 20-foot storm surge will flood much of the coastal plain, including the petro-chemical complex that lines the Houston Ship Channel.

Here is the SLOSH (Sea, Lake and Overland Surges) model for Ike. Note the white star that denotes Houston well outside of the surge.

Below is the wind-field projected for Ike at landfall:

That would put us in the path of tropical-storm force winds of around 50 mph (the windspeeds in the model are listed in kts; conversion table here).

When the eye passes over downtown, wind speeds should look like this:

For us, wind speeds should remain at tropical force. You can see that to the East of us, on the "dirty" side, wind speeds are somewhat higher, peaking around 70 mph. While Ike could shift to the West and put us in the path of the stronger winds this type of movement is not predicted, and even then we would face only minimal hurricane-force winds.

We are forecast to receive about 12.5 inches of rainfall, which will bring some flooding to low-lying areas and add to the damage in those areas affected by the storm surge. However, it is unlikely to flood our neighborhood.

As always look for updates here and, as a last resort, on twitter (still having trouble with mobile updates but I'll get back on top of that).