Friday, September 12, 2008

The Hurricane Ike LiveBlog, Part 1

Q: What happens when you stick a teacher with penchants for amateur weather forecasting and writing in his house with nothing to do as a tropical system attempts to make landfall in the area?

A: This LiveBlog, of course. *groans from the audience*

Yes, yours truly will be LiveBlogging Hurricane Ike over the course of today, giving you information, analysis, and really anything that pops up in my mind as Hurricane Ike takes aim at the Upper Texas Coast. Yours truly is sitting comfortably in Teaching on Mars HQ (Read: The back bedroom/office of my house) here in the middle of Franklin. Check back in throughout the day to see the posts updated with new information.

Important Links to keep an eye on this weekend:

Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
National Weather Service- Lake Charles Office
National Hurricane Center

0830: Like I said, I'd be starting up the LiveBlog at this time. As of the 0400 National Weather Service Advisory, Ike is still targeting a landfall on the Upper Texas Coast in an area between Port Lavaca and Galveston, Texas either very late Friday night or very early Saturday morning as possibly a minimal Category 3 storm. (Here's the area via Google Maps) The Houston metro area is in full panic getting out of the area, and rightfully so considering the last time Houston got a direct hit from a hurricane was Hurricane Alicia in 1983. they've had plenty of near misses, most recently Rita in 2005, so it seems their number is up for Hurricane Roulette.

Houston's media is also in full-blown storm reporting mode, so there isn't much of interest other than the plight of a Cyprus-flagged freighter sailing from Port Arthur, Texas to Houston that lost power 90 miles SE of Galveston and and is now stuck in the Gulf, with no one to save them because sea state conditions are too rough for a rescue. Stinks to be them and I'm hoping they're able to ride it out all right.

Other than that, everything's the same as has been since last night, so I'm not going to be like the news and repeat the same five things over and over. I'm out of milk so I'm going to run to the store to see if there's any left. If anything this will probably give me a fantastic LiveBlog entry when I get back.

Weather Conditions:
Sun is shining, winds from the east at around 15 mph. No precipitation.

1000: The 1000 CDT Advisory is out, as is the new forecast track for Ike. It's essentially the same as the previous advisory, which means Houston is under the gun for the worst of Ike's effects. Of course, this depends on when Ike begins to turn to the northwest to round the ridge of high pressure that's steering the storm. As of now Ike still has 105 mph winds and is still heading in a west-northwestward direction. Whilst the Weather Channel is patting themselves on the back about the success of their forecasting models for Ike thus far (Forgetting they were telling Miami to prepare for a direct hit last week.), the National Weather Service is as usual being much more realistic about things, as evidenced in the 1000 CDT Forecast discussion (Emphasis Mine)...


At least some folks have their feet firmly planted in reality. Anyway, I've stated more than once when discussing Ike how the large wind field is pretty abnormal when compared to your typical tropical cyclone. The graphic below displayed the forecasted wind field for Ike as it moves inland (Image courtesy NWS Houston/Galveston)

In a typical system with Ike's strength, hurricane-force winds would probably only extend to the other side of Galveston Bay, but Ike's sheer size is going to send hurricane-force winds all the way to Cameron in Louisiana. Very unusual, and bad in terms of generating a storm surge far from the centre of circulation. Now Ike may be a large storm, but it's got nothing on the largest storm in recorded history, Super Typhoon Tip.

Speaking of very bad, here's the current watches and warnings for the NWS Lake Charles area. I swear I've seen something similar very recently:

Weather Conditions: Sunny with winds from the east at 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph as I'm typing this. Still no precipitation, but the clouds are beginning to thicken as they move with Ike.

1100: I have to say I was surprised when I went to Walmart and it wasn't just open, but people were actually there! I went in to grab some milk and wander around looking for a rain gauge. I was unsuccessful in my search. Why am I not surprised. At least I got some milk.

Weather Conditions: Party Cloudy with winds from the east at 25 mph with gusts it seems to be almost up to 35 mph. Still no rain.

1200: The wind picked up big time just now with a gust that went over 35 mph. Winds are still sustained at 25ish mph, but the number of gusts have been increasing. National Weather Service radar shows the edge of the storm is still offshore, but it's getting closer and closer.

1315: My mother spoke with me over the phone and told me that the storm surge has already coming onto the Louisiana coast, with the bridge over the Intracoastal Canal on the way to Cypremort Point is impassable because the water is covering the road at the base of both sides of the bridge, the Delcambre Canal going over the banks and into the town, and further west the Calcacieu Ship Channel is showing the water level at almost 9 feet, meaning Cameron already has three feet of water on the streets. Not good. Not good at all. KATC is breaking in at the top of every hour with Dave Baker giving the weather reports and forecasts for conditions across Acadiana. Here in St. Mary Parish the worst conditions we should see are 45-50 mph sustained winds and a storm surge of 4-6 feet, which would swamp everything south of the Intracoastal Canal. We'll be safe here in Franklin, but once again, the concept of another Rita-esque event so soon after Rita in 2005 is something I can't figure out.

Weather Conditions: Winds out of the east at 27 mph, gusting to 35 mph. Cloudy skies and sprinkles.

1455: The rain bands from Ike have finally arrive here in Franklin. About five minutes ago there was a pretty hard gust of wind (almost 40mph by my estimations) and the squally showers started. Looking at the NWS radar, conditions are about to go downhill from here.

Weather Conditions: Winds out of the east near 30 mph, gusting to 35 mph. Cloudy with squally showers becoming more numerous.

1620: I know everyone is dying to know what I've been doing the last hour, and I guess I should let everyone know: I was rearranging my bookshelf. Yup. Exciting stuff. The 1600 CDT Advisory and Forecast Discussions are now out, and it's more of the same with the major exception that Ike has finally made its move to the northwest, though at the same forward speed (10 mph) as previously. Ike's winds remain the same as the 1000 advisory, as does the expected point of landfall. Other than that, same old, same old. Here in Franklin they're closely watching Bayou Teche, which has risen significantly in the past couple of hours.

Weather Conditions: Winds sustained at 30 mph from the east with a recent gust of almost 40 mph. Occasional squalls, but we seem to be between the storm itself and an outer rain band.

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