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Keeping them honest: How bad was Ike?

Keeping them honest: How bad was Ike?
Posted: 01:56 PM ET

CNN Meteorology Intern Andrew Maloof crunched the numbers on what was predicted for Hurricane Ike’s storm surge, and what really happened.

Searchers recovered three more bodies from the wreckage of Hurricane Ike yesterday, bringing the storm’s death toll to 67. That awful toll, and the images of lost homes and changed lives all happened from a storm that fell short of predictions.
Homes on the Bolivar Peninsula before Ike.

Homes on the Bolivar Peninsula before Ike.

The public advisories and discussions of the forecast storm surge from Hurricane Ike were off by 5-10 feet, and yet destruction reigned over Galveston Island, Bolivar Peninsula and other coastal communities.
The same area after Ike. (USGS Photos)

The same area after Ike. (USGS Photos)

100 AM CDT FRI SEP 12 2008

“COASTAL STORM SURGE FLOODING OF UP TO 20 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE
LEVELS…ALONG WITH LARGE AND DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES…CAN BE
EXPECTED NEAR AND TO THE EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER OF IKE MAKES
LANDFALL… SURGE FLOODING OF UP TO 25 FEET COULD OCCUR AT THE HEADS OF BAYS.”
(National Hurricane Center, Miami, FL)

The National Hurricane Center predicted huge storm surges that, for most areas on the coast, didn’t happen. Had those dire predictions been true, the chemical and oil refineries along Galveston Bay could have taken a much larger hit.

These are the actual recorded surge heights:

STORM SURGE Max Heights in FEET (Tidal Surges Will Vary .5’-2’)
TEXAS
–Galveston
Galveston State Pleasure Pier.. 11.19’
Rollover Pass……………… 11.06’
Eagle Point……………….. 10.75’
Port of Galveston Pier 21…… 10.25’

–Harris County
Manchester………………… 11.74’
Morgans Point……………… 7.76’
Battleship Texas State Park…. 6.11’

LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA
–Jefferson
Sabine Pass……………….. 12.54’
Texas Point……………….. 11.79’
Port Arthur……………….. 11.25’
Rainbow Bridge…………….. 9.29’

When the word hurricane pops up on the news, the first thing people start to ponder is how big it will get. The category, known as the Saffir-Simpson Scale, is based on wind. It can range from Category 1 (74 to 95 MPH) to Category 5 (over 155 MPH). What many do not realize is the fact that wind is not the true killer, but only an accomplice to the most deadly aspect of a hurricane, the storm surge. According to the National Weather Service, “Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the mean water level 15 feet or more.” So, when meteorologists tell the public that the category of a storm is increasing from say 3 to 4, they is also implying that the storm surge will increase.

Before/After aerial photos of Ike’s damage can be viewed here

Coastal communities on Bolivar Peninsula as you look at “after” pictures, anyone staying in the homes that are now completely gone would have been swept into Galveston Bay by the storm surge, a trauma that would have not been survivable.

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October 7, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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