Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricane Blog #10: Friday, 9:45 p.m.

We in Texas are lucky. But our neighbors in Louisiana, once again, are not.

It's beginning to look like Hurricane Rita is going to come ashore just east of the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, right on the Texas-Louisiana border. Remember, everything west of the eye of the hurricane is on the "weak side". But everything east of the eye is gonna get socked.

And right now, southwest Louisiana is getting socked.

From AP: Steve Rinard, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Lake Charles, said he could not keep count of the tornado warnings across southern Louisiana. "They were just popping up like firecrackers," he said.

Emergency vehicles with FEMA are already staging at Reliant Park -- the same place that, just a week ago, was still sheltering evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. Regional disaster assistance is going to be dispatched from there as soon as the eye crosses over us, at about 3 a.m.

Meanwhile, the fear of a storm surge was a bit overblown for us. Because we're on the west side of the storm, and the winds are blowing north-to-south, the Houston Ship Channel is actually experiencing a "reverse surge" -- pushing water down into Galveston Bay. This puts Galveston Island in an interesting, but very real danger: being swamped from the land side, rather than the Gulf side.

Galveston Island is a barrier island. These huge, glorified sandbars are ever-shifting, transient coastal features. They gradually build up from silt and sand deposited on the coast by inland rivers. Nature designs them to disappear as they absorb the pounding from the Gulf waters. Typically, sand and silt are washed off the leading edge of the island, but are re-deposited on the back side.

Well, beach erosion in Galveston has been a long-evolving story. It's some of the most-desired property in all of Texas, because 99 percent of the time, it's all beautiful beach and clean salt air. But as the beach erodes and the vegetation line moves, beach homes that were once well off the beach, are now on public state property.

And people who can afford beach homes can also afford to lobby elected officials quite successfully. Two years ago, officials spent millions of dollars to renourish "starving" beaches on the western end of Galveston Island, adding acres of shoreline. That summer, a minor hurricane, Claudette, made landfall down the Texas coast. Although the storm only produced about 45 mph winds in Galveston, it stripped away a third of the new beach. A University of Texas study estimates that most of west Galveston Island, where the lion's share of new development is taking place, loses 9 feet of coast a year.

So even though Hurricane Rita's full fury has missed us, it will be interesting to see how much of Galveston Island will be left when all this is said and done.

* * *

I'm expecting a call from Mr. KABC at about 10:30 p.m. Central time to set up another appearance on tonight's show. I believe I'm going to be on at 9 p.m. Pacific (11 p.m. Central). The live audio stream can be found here.

posted by Gary @ 9:50 PM


At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just got back and couldn't wait to get to my computer. You explain the science of hurricane Rita so well. Shall get ready for bed and Mr. KABC and you. Hope you phone and power stay on. What a mess. Thinking of you and your wife. From Los Angeles, Margie


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

» Home

Location: Houston, Texas

Why the heck wouldn't you want to read the toxic byproducts of my mental processes? It's not like you're too busy to waste a minute or two here, you know. You ARE just killing time by mindlessly surfing the web. Pop open a brewski and stay a while.

Powered by Blogger
Design by Beccary

Listed on BlogShares

Humor Blog Top Sites