All the live long day.
The eye of Ike will be upon you,
So you'd better get away!
Don't think you can escape it late,
on Friday night, or early in the morn'.
Leave now, or Ike will be upon you,
And you'll be trapped in the storm!
Today's Wonderblog is appropriately scary:
Hurricane Ike's winds remain at Category 2 strength, but Ike is a freak storm with extreme destructive storm surge potential. Ike's pressure fell rapidly last night to 944 mb, but the hurricane did not respond to the pressure change by increasing its maximum winds in the eyewall. Instead, Ike responded by increasing the velocity of its winds away from the eyewall, over a huge stretch of the Gulf of Mexico . . . This very unusual structure makes forecasting the future intensity of Ike nearly impossible. The possibilities range from a Category 1 storm at landfall--as predicted by the HWRF model--to a Category 4 storm at landfall, as predicted by the GFDL. (note: The GFDL model is considered the most accurate over the past few years.)
Ike is now larger than Katrina was. . . Ike's huge wind field has put an extraordinarily large volume of ocean water in motion. When this swirling column of water hits the shallow waters of the Continental Shelf, it will be be forced up into a large storm surge which will probably rival the massive storm surge of Hurricane Carla of 1961. Like Carla. . . Ike will probably inundate a 180-mile stretch of Texas coast . . . with a 10-15 foot storm surge. . . The latest experimental storm surge forecast . . . shows a 10% chance that Ike's storm surge will exceed 15-21 feet at Galveston. The Galveston sea wall is 17 feet high, so it may get overtopped. (Note: the height of The sea wall is closer to 15-16 feet due to confusion between whether to measure against sea level or mean low tide.)
The amount of water Ike has put in motion is about 50% greater than what Katrina did, and thus we can expect Ike's storm surge damage will be similar to or greater than Katrina's. The way we can estimate this damage potential is to compute the total energy of Ike's surface winds (kinetic energy). Katrina and Wilma at their peaks both earned a 5.1 on this scale (Figure 2). At 9:30am EDT this morning, Ike earned a 5.6 on this scale, the highest kinetic energy of any Atlantic storm in the past 40 years.
We must assume Ike will intensify to a Category 3 hurricane by landfall, which would likely do $20-$30 billion in damage. The chances of hundreds of people being killed in this storm is high if people do not heed evacuation orders to leave low-lying areas threatened by high storm surges. Ike's storm surge is going to be affect a huge area and be tremendously destructive.
Oh, and strspn just saw this cheery bit of news:
LIFE THREATENING INUNDATION LIKELY! 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. . . WATER LEVELS MAY EXCEED 9 FEET FOR MORE THAN A MILE INLAND. . . CONDITIONS WILL BE WORSENED BY BATTERING WAVES. SUCH WAVES WILL EXACERBATE PROPERTY DAMAGE...WITH MASSIVE DESTRUCTION OF HOMES... INCLUDING THOSE OF BLOCK CONSTRUCTION. VERY DANGEROUS WINDS WILL PRODUCE WIDESPREAD DAMAGE AND DESTRUCTION OF MOBILE HOMES IS LIKELY. STRUCTURAL DAMAGE WILL INCLUDE THE MAJORITY OF MOBILE HOMES BEING SEVERELY DAMAGED. . . HOUSES OF POOR TO AVERAGE CONSTRUCTION WILL HAVE MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING PARTIAL WALL COLLAPSE AND ROOFS BEING LIFTED OFF. . . UP TO ONE QUARTER OF GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL. PARTIAL ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED AT INDUSTRIAL PARKS...ESPECIALLY TO THOSE BUILDINGS WITH LIGHT WEIGHT STEEL AND ALUMINUM COVERINGS. OLDER LOW RISING APARTMENT ROOFS MAY ALSO BE TORN OFF...AS WELL AS RECEIVING SIDING AND SHINGLE DAMAGE. UP TO ONE QUARTER OF ALL GLASS IN HIGH RISE OFFICE BUILDINGS WILL BE BLOWN OUT. AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL CAUSE DAMAGE...INJURY...AND POSSIBLE FATALITIES.