‘Certain Death’ For Ike

12 09 2008

The National Weather Service in Houston told residents along Galveston Bay on Thursday night they “face certain death” if they don’t leave home before Hurricane Ike roars ashore.

The last time forecasters used blunt language was three years ago as Hurricane Katrina closed in on New Orleans.

In fact, the last time they did was three years ago as Hurricane Katrina closed in on New Orleans and the Gulf coast.

Forecasters expect the powerful Category 2 storm to strengthen before its center makes landfall late Friday or early Saturday. The storm is so big that it fills most of the Gulf of Mexico.

Roughly 3.5 million people live in the storm’s impact zone, according to federal estimates.

The weather service painted a vivid picture in its warning of the destruction it expects: a towering wall of water — possibly up to 22 feet high — crashing over the Galveston Bay shoreline as the brunt of Ike comes ashore. That wall of water could send floodwaters surging into Houston, more than 20 miles inland.

“All neighborhoods … and possibly entire coastal communities … will be inundated during the peak storm tide,” the weather service warned. “Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single family one or two story homes will face certain death.”

The August 2005 warning for Katrina said “most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks … perhaps longer” and that people and animals “exposed to the winds will face certain death.”

Shocking at the time, the warning proved largely correct. Parts of New Orleans and the Gulf coast still bear the scars of Katrina and remain uninhabitable.

More than 1,800 people died after Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds more were never accounted for.

What makes Hurricane Ike so intimidating to forecasters involves the location they expect it to make landfall — near Galveston Island, just south of Houston.

If that happens — hurricane tracks are hard to predict and subject to change — the storm’s counter-clockwise rotation would push water into Galveston Bay for hour upon hour, battering sea walls and structures.

The final storm surge — the one that could exceed 20 feet in height — would come as the eye of crosses the shoreline.

A slight northward change in Ike’s path could spare much the Houston area and its millions of residents from catastrophic flooding by keeping the surge out of the bay and pushing it to less-populated areas.

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‘Certain Death’ For Ike

12 09 2008

The National Weather Service in Houston told residents along Galveston Bay on Thursday night they “face certain death” if they don’t leave home before Hurricane Ike roars ashore.

The last time forecasters used blunt language was three years ago as Hurricane Katrina closed in on New Orleans.

In fact, the last time they did was three years ago as Hurricane Katrina closed in on New Orleans and the Gulf coast.

Forecasters expect the powerful Category 2 storm to strengthen before its center makes landfall late Friday or early Saturday. The storm is so big that it fills most of the Gulf of Mexico.

Roughly 3.5 million people live in the storm’s impact zone, according to federal estimates.

The weather service painted a vivid picture in its warning of the destruction it expects: a towering wall of water — possibly up to 22 feet high — crashing over the Galveston Bay shoreline as the brunt of Ike comes ashore. That wall of water could send floodwaters surging into Houston, more than 20 miles inland.

“All neighborhoods … and possibly entire coastal communities … will be inundated during the peak storm tide,” the weather service warned. “Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single family one or two story homes will face certain death.”

The August 2005 warning for Katrina said “most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks … perhaps longer” and that people and animals “exposed to the winds will face certain death.”

Shocking at the time, the warning proved largely correct. Parts of New Orleans and the Gulf coast still bear the scars of Katrina and remain uninhabitable.

More than 1,800 people died after Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds more were never accounted for.

What makes Hurricane Ike so intimidating to forecasters involves the location they expect it to make landfall — near Galveston Island, just south of Houston.

If that happens — hurricane tracks are hard to predict and subject to change — the storm’s counter-clockwise rotation would push water into Galveston Bay for hour upon hour, battering sea walls and structures.

The final storm surge — the one that could exceed 20 feet in height — would come as the eye of crosses the shoreline.

A slight northward change in Ike’s path could spare much the Houston area and its millions of residents from catastrophic flooding by keeping the surge out of the bay and pushing it to less-populated areas.





Gustav Keeps White House Away

1 09 2008

Faced with the prospect of a monster storm hitting the U.S. Gulf Coast this week, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are not attending the Republican National Convention, the White House has announced.

The two men will not travel to St. Paul, Minn., today for the start of the four-day convention to anoint Republican presidential candidate John McCain because that’s when Hurricane Gustav is expected to strike Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states, the White House said Sunday.

Bush called state leaders in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas in the early morning from the White House, spokesman Scott Stanzel said. Those states are in the path of the hurricane, which swept through the Caribbean last week, killing about 80 people.

Gustav is a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Forecasters believe its centre will make landfall just west of New Orleans on Monday. By then, it could be a Category 4 or even reach the top of the five-category scale.

There are fears the storm surge could break through the same levees that failed three years ago and swamp the city, repeating the disastrous conditions left by Hurricane Katrina.

McCain told Fox News on Sunday there might be changes to the tone of the four-day party gathering, which gets underway Monday, because of the approaching storm.

“It just wouldn’t be appropriate to have a festive occasion while a near-tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a natural disaster, so we’re monitoring it from day to day and I’m saying a few prayers, too,” he said.

McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, were travelling to Mississippi on Sunday to observe storm preparations.





Mandatory Hurricane Evacuation Is Ordered in New Orleans

31 08 2008

City officials ordered everyone to leave New Orleans beginning Sunday morning — the first mandatory evacuation since Hurricane Katrina flooded the city three years ago — as Hurricane Gustav grew into what the city’s mayor called “the storm of the century” and moved toward the Louisiana coast.