Ike's record storm surge pushing into Texas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:26 PM GMT on September 12, 2008

Share this Blog
6
+

Hurricane Ike is closing in on Texas, and stands poised to become one of the most damaging hurricanes of all time. Despite Ike's rated Category 2 strength, the hurricane is much larger and more powerful than Category 5 Katrina or Category 5 Rita. The storm surge from Ike could rival Katrina's, inundating a 200-mile stretch of coast from Galveston to Cameron, Louisiana with waters over 15 feet high. This massive storm surge is due to the exceptional size of Ike. According to the latest wind field estimate (Figure 1), the diameter of Ike's tropical storm and hurricane force winds are 550 and 240 miles, respectively. For comparison, Katrina numbers at landfall were 440 and 210 miles, respectively. As I discussed in yesterday's blog entry, a good measure of the storm surge potential is Integrated Kinetic Energy (IKE). Ike continues to grow larger and has intensified slightly since yesterday, and the hurricane's Integrated Kinetic Energy has increased from 134 to 149 Terajoules. This is 30% higher than Katrina's total energy at landfall. All this extra energy has gone into piling up a vast storm surge that will probably be higher than anything in recorded history along the Texas coast. Storm surge heights of 20-25 feet are possible from Galveston northwards to the Louisiana border. The Texas storm surge record is held by Hurricane Carla of 1961. Carla was a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds at landfall, and drove a 10 foot or higher storm surge to a 180-mile stretch of Texas coast. A maximum storm surge of 22 feet was recorded at Port Lavaca, Texas.


Figure 1. Experimental wind field analysis for Ike at 9:30 am EDT 09/12/08. The area of hurricane force winds is inside the heavy black line where the yellow color begins (64 knots). The area of tropical storm force winds is inside the heavy black line at 35 knots (turquoise colors). The total Integrated Kinetic Energy was 149 Terajoules, which makes Ike's storm surge potential a 5.4 on a scale of 1 to 6. Image credit: NOAA Hurricane Research Division.

The forecast
Ike's small inner eyewall has completely collapsed, leaving Ike with no eyewall. Creation of a new eyewall is being hampered by some dry air to the storm's west, and the presence of about 10 knots of wind shear. However, Ike is beginning to look better organized on satellite imagery, and may still intensify by 5-10 mph before landfall. Ike will not inflict extreme wind damage like Katrina's or Rita's. The big story with Ike will be the storm surge.

Ike's winds
An oil rig in Ike's path measured sustained winds of 125 mph, at 6:45 am CDT. Lower winds of 105 mph were occurring at the surface, since the rig is at an elevation of 400 feet. The Hurricane Hunters are still reporting maximum winds of 105 mph over a large region of the surface.

Ike's storm surge
According to the NOAA tide gauges, storm tides along the Mississippi coast peaked at about 6 feet above normal yesterday, with a 7 foot storm tide observed on the east side of New Orleans at Shell Beach in Lake Borgne. At 10 am CDT, storm tides of 5-6 feet were being seen in western Louisiana, and were 5 feet at Freeport, Texas, and 5.5 feet at Galveston. According to the latest NWS forecast from the Galveston office, we can expect the following storm surges in Texas:

Gulf-facing coastline west of Sargent... 4 to 6 feet

Shoreline of Matagorda Bay... 2 to 5 feet

Gulf-facing coastline from Sargent to San Luis Pass... 12 to 15 feet

Gulf-facing coastline San Luis Pass to High Island including Galveston Island... ... 15 to 20 feet

Shoreline of Galveston Bay...15 to 25 feet

NOAA's experimental storm surge forecast is calling for a 10% chance that the storm tide from Ike will reach 27-30 feet on the south and east sides of Houston. The exact track of Ike is key in determining if Galveston's 17-foot sea wall gets overtopped, flooding the city. A slight wobble 30 miles to the north of Galveston would put the city into offshore winds from Ike, possibly saving it from inundation. The situation is grim for Port Arthur, Texas, on the Louisiana border. The expected storm surge of 15-20 feet will overtop the city's seawall by six feet, resulting in flooding of the city and a number of major oil refineries. Expect a significant tightening of gas supplies in coming months, due to extensive damage to the oil refineries in the Houston and Port Arthur area.

Ike's winds in Houston and inland
Winds in the Houston metro area will increase to tropical storm force--39 mph--by about 4 pm CDT today, and remain that strong for about 24 hours. Category 1 hurricane force winds of about 75-85 mph will affect the city for about an 8-hour period from midnight to 8 am on Saturday. People in well-built homes will suffer only minor damage, but mobile homes and homes not build to code will suffer significant damage. The extremely long duration of the hurricane force winds will cause much greater damage than is typical for a hurricane of this strength.

Winds and damage in Houston should will be slightly greater than was experienced during Hurricane Alicia of 1983. Alica had higher winds at landfall, but was a smaller storm that weakened relatively quickly inland. Ike's damage will cover a much wider area and spread farther inland, due to the large size of the storm. During Alicia, Houston Hobby Airport on the south side of the city recorded top winds of 89 mph, gusting to 99 mph. The strongest winds recorded at Houston International Airport, on the north side of the city, were 51 mph, gusting to 78 mph. Winds from Ike will probably be sustained at 85-90 mph at Houston Hobby, and 75-80 mph at Houston International Airport.

A good guess on what kind of winds inland areas will experience can be had by using the Inland Wind Model developed by NOAA scientists Mark DeMaria and John Kaplan. This simple model shows the expected winds inland from the coast for the five Category hurricanes moving at different speeds. Plotted below (Figure 2) is the inland wind model plot that best fits the type of winds I expect will penetrate inland from Ike. I think Ike will be a strong Category 2 hurricane moving at about 15 mph at landfall, but the hurricane's strongest winds will penetrate farther inland than is typical due to the huge size of the storm. Thus, I picked a slightly stronger storm with a higher forward speed to base my inland wind estimate on. I expect hurricane force winds of 74 mph will penetrate about 110 miles inland, near the cities of Huntsville and Livingston to the north of Galveston, and not quite reaching Lufkin. We can expect Ike to cause the largest and longest-lived power outage in Texas history, with power knocked out along a 200-mile wide swath in eastern Texas and extreme western Louisiana extending 300 miles inland to I-20. Dallas will be at the fringe of the region of widespread power outages, and should not suffer major power failures.


Figure 2. Inland penetration of tropical storm and hurricane force winds from a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds moving perpendicular to the Gulf Coast at a forward speed of 17 mph. Image credit: NOAA.

Tornadoes from Ike
Texas hurricanes have a history of producing strong tornadoes. Hurricane Alica spawned 23 tornadoes when it hit, including one strong F2 tornado. Hurricane Carla of 1961 unleashed 26 tornadoes, including the only violent F4 tornado ever spawned by a hurricane. The tornado hit Galveston, killing between 6 and 12 people.

Rain
Heavy rain from Ike will be the least of Texas' concerns, since the hurricane is not expected to stall, and will move quickly northwards out of the state by Sunday. The latest NOAA/HPC rain forecast (Figure 3) predicts the swath of heaviest rains of six inches or more will cover an area about 100 miles square.


Figure 3. Predicted 5-day rainfall totals along the path of Ike, beginning at 8am EDT Friday September 12, 2008. Image credit: NOAA Hydrometeorological Prediction Center.

For more information
I recommend Texas residents consult NHC's wind probability product to determine their odds of getting hurricane force winds.

For storm surge evacuation zone information, consult the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

For storm surge heights, consult our Storm surge risk for the Texas coast page.

Links to follow
Galveston, TX weather
Port Arthur, TX weather
Houston, TX weather
Tide gauges along the Gulf Coast
Long-range radar out of Galveston, TX
wundermap of weather stations near Ike
Buoy observations near Ike from the National Data Buoy Center.

Tropical disturbance 91L north of Puerto Rico
An area of disturbed weather (91L) is located a few hundred miles north of the Dominican Republic. Satellite loops show that 91L's heavy thunderstorm has shown a modest increase this morning, but these thunderstorm are not well organized and cover a limited area. This morning's QuikSCAT pass missed 91L, but last night's pass showed no evidence of a surface circulation, and none is apparent on visible satellite imagery.

The disturbance is under about 10 knots of wind shear, and is also having trouble with some dry air to the west. There is an upper-level low pressure just to the west of 91L that is creating shear and pumping dry air into the system, similar to the situation Hanna had to deal with in its formative stages. Shear is expected to remain 10-20 knots though Monday, which may allow some gradual development. None of the models are developing 91L, but the Bahamas can expect heavy rain and strong gusty wind over the next three days as 91L tracks west-northwest towards the east coast of Florida. NHC is giving this disturbance a low (<20% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday.

Jeff Masters

Very angry surf (mywrk)
Pensacola Beach when Ike was hundreds of miles south. And still no rain this week.
Very angry surf

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

Sign In or Register Sign In or Register

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 877 - 827

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26Blog Index

877. steve4christ
7:33 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Link Lake Charles Nexrad
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
876. myway
7:33 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting boatdrinkz:
THESE PEOPLE ARE PRICE GOUGING AT THESE GAS STATIONS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY !!!


Wholesale gas prices started rising yesterday. One third of the refining capability lie in the path of the storm. If we llose refineries we will be paying much higher prices for a very long time. The last refinery built in the us was in 1976.
Like many other things. Nobody wants them in their backyard.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
875. quakeman55
7:34 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting boatdrinkz:
THESE PEOPLE ARE PRICE GOUGING AT THESE GAS STATIONS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY !!!


If so, then that's illegal...anyone caught doing so needs to be reported to the authorities.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
873. jdjnola
7:34 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
A rather beautiful NASA satellite image of this terrifying storm:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
872. AtmosphericWrath
7:33 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting djti:


1st off..there is no eye. only a vast center of circulation. the very center of this vast open circulation is not about to make landfall at the tx/la border, it is still heading direcly towards galveston


No eye yet, but the convection sure has made progress wrapping now to the W-SW side of Ike... Still some dry air feeding into the SW-S COC. Eye wall is trying to close off, but unsure if it will succeed.
Member Since: September 6, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 34
871. gecko
7:27 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting bayoubrotha:
Patrap may have posted this link already, but the NWS Lake Charles long range radar has a good loop of Ike as he passes to the south.

Link


So, eyeballing the progress of the eye, isn't that 3-4 hours to landfall, not 2am landfall... or am I remembering the old prediction wrong?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
870. tiggeriffic
7:33 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
legally it is NOT price gouging unless a state of emergency has been issued...sorry =(
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3666
867. djti
7:33 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting boatdrinkz:
THESE PEOPLE ARE PRICE GOUGING AT THESE GAS STATIONS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY !!!


no. simply not the case. wholesale prices of gasoline are skyrocketing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
866. InsuranceMan
7:28 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting sarahjola:
i am looking at channel 6 news radar and i see the eye about to approach landfall on tx/la boarder. what do you all think. and what kind of effects will it have on us in Louisiana? go to wdsu.com and look at the interactive radar. it has def. gone more north. as i said before tx/la boarder. its coming fast too!!


it would if it was going north. but from what i have learned on this site it is not. GALVESTON
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
865. Orcasystems
7:32 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
16 Coast Guard helicopters and two Ospreys are now being used to evacuate several hundred people off of the Seawall.

Off the seawall
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
864. RadarRich
7:33 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
855. WLSTampa 7:32 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Does anyone know if that guy who said he was going to stay in a parking structure on Gaveston Isl. is still there?

Yeah, thinking the same, has anyone heard from him????
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
863. Fshhead
7:32 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting djti:


1st off..there is no eye. only a vast center of circulation. the very center of this vast open circulation is not about to make landfall at the tx/la border, it is still heading direcly towards galveston


I agree, its right on the forecast points & there is NO closed eye.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
862. tiggeriffic
7:31 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
90 billion too high for such an event? don't think so...dont forget to add at least 10 states to that budget (all the rains as it moves to the NE...flooding expected all the way to NE), and the fact that what was not damaged or destroyed by Gustav now could be...and all the etc...90 bill seems a little low to me
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3666
861. ThePatient
7:33 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
860. CatastrophicDL
7:27 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Anyone who can help with this question. CIMSS looks like the anti-cyclone we were expecting earlier is just inland between CC and Galveston. Won't this set-up allow Ike to maintain strength a little longer over land? Could he possibly be attracted to it? Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
859. boatdrinkz
7:27 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
THESE PEOPLE ARE PRICE GOUGING AT THESE GAS STATIONS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY !!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
857. RadarRich
7:27 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
819. fire831rescue 7:25 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
The reason I asked that question is IF Ike starts to turn now, it is possible he could ride back Eastward down the coast. That's whay I said it would be a whole new ballgame... And he possibly wouldn't lose much strength.



Wow, just a little too far fetched, but that would be very scary, to say the least..
Probably less than a 1 percent chance of that scenario occuring though, thank God. My reasoning for that not happening is from the many computer models, and none have that happening.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
856. djti
7:30 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting sarahjola:
i am looking at channel 6 news radar and i see the eye about to approach landfall on tx/la boarder. what do you all think. and what kind of effects will it have on us in Louisiana? go to wdsu.com and look at the interactive radar. it has def. gone more north. as i said before tx/la boarder. its coming fast too!!


1st off..there is no eye. only a vast center of circulation. the very center of this vast open circulation is not about to make landfall at the tx/la border, it is still heading direcly towards galveston
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
855. WLSTampa
7:30 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Does anyone know if that guy who said he was going to stay in a parking structure on Gaveston Isl. is still there?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
854. TRed
7:29 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting sarahjola:
i am looking at channel 6 news radar and i see the eye about to approach landfall on tx/la boarder. what do you all think. and what kind of effects will it have on us in Louisiana? go to wdsu.com and look at the interactive radar. it has def. gone more north. as i said before tx/la boarder. its coming fast too!!


ok good so fire831 and I are not the only ones that see this.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
853. BiloxiGirl
7:31 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
No problem Fire. Just trying to figure out your wheels too. LOL. Keep us posted.
Member Since: August 15, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 56
852. steve4christ
7:30 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Live news from Galveston Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
851. LeopardMoth
2:31 PM CDT on September 12, 2008
I've got to go for now... BBL

Stay safe... or get safe...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
850. rwdobson
7:29 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
836. Sure Ike will turn east, but not until it is well on shore.
Member Since: June 12, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 1592
849. BiloxiGirl
7:29 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
TexasGulf - nothing like some good solid reality to make people at least think about what they might be about to experience.Not sure enough people are thinking it out that far.
Member Since: August 15, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 56
848. OUFan919
7:30 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Couple explosions of storms around the COC
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
847. RobbWilder
3:29 PM EDT on September 12, 2008
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Funny how each US cane to hit the US have a main event to them

Dolly was a wind event
Gustav was a water event (rain and winds)
Ike's going to be a Horrible and likely catastrophic storm surge event.


I just hope this is the last major event. Those are the basis for hurricane damage. Wind, Rain and Surge. I hope the next one is not a combo of all.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
846. Stormchaser2007
7:29 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting CybrTeddy:
I think we could end up seeing damage in the 90 Billions.


I dont..LOL thats VERY high.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
845. fire831rescue
7:29 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting BiloxiGirl:
Fire - I am not sure I follow you. I mean I could see Ike going more north, but do you really think it will turn east at all?


No. But stranger things have happened. Don't be alarmed by my questions... LOL. I'm just trying to figure out something here.... Wheels turning in my mind...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
844. Patrap
2:28 PM CDT on September 12, 2008
Short Floater - Rainbow Color Infrared Loop Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 433 Comments: 132801
843. Drakoen
7:26 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Good afternoon. Ike structure has grown less impressive and it's likely that the dry air on the continent is suppressing some of the convection. Probably won't become a major hurricane though with such a large wind field hurricane force conditions will be felt through a broad area.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
842. CJ5
7:20 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting WatchingInHouston:
Why are insults being thrown at the people who didn't leave but a dancing bear is absolutely hilarious?


Because that is exactly what it is. A dancing bear in a news feed with crashing waves in the backdrop is funny. An interview with dumb parents and several kids talking about riding it out is not. Simple.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
841. TexasGulf
7:25 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
If you are still on Galveston Island... too late to evacuate.

Go to the hospital nearest the seawall. I'm a structural engineer and have been in that concrete parking garage many times. Drive in, park in the 3rd or 4th level... then just head to one of the interior reinforced concrete stairwells to sit out the storm.

If you tried getting into the hospital for safety, security will get really upset. In fact, the hospital will probably be closed to entry during the storm.

The parking garage is still open now, and it was designed for the high winds. It also will give you elevation above the flooding regardless of surge.

It's better than sitting on your roof waiting for rescue. Also, the concrete garage will block the sun and stay relatively cool for the 2-3 days you will likely have to stay there.

Just good advice, but it is an option.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
840. weathermanwannabe
3:26 PM EDT on September 12, 2008
Quoting djti:


in dallas, apples to apples stations: 3.35 to 3.59 thus far. i passed at 11am and it was 3.46, coming back at 1:30 it was 3.59.



I work in Tallahassee, a relativley small college town, and folks are "panic buying" gas....Lines at the 10+ stations I passed when I stepped out for lunch....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
839. fire831rescue
7:27 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Just posing a question. So far, this season's been screwy. So far, I've learned darn near anything can happen.......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
838. CybrTeddy
7:27 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Funny how each US cane to hit the US have a main event to them

Dolly was a wind event
Gustav was a water event (rain and winds)
Ike's going to be a Horrible and likely catastrophic storm surge event.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
837. steve4christ
7:26 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Geostationary
Satellite ImagesLink
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
836. BiloxiGirl
7:27 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Fire - I am not sure I follow you. I mean I could see Ike going more north, but do you really think it will turn east at all?
Member Since: August 15, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 56
835. Patrap
2:25 PM CDT on September 12, 2008
If you can,,

In The Watch and warned areas, Charge your cell Phones to MAX Charge Now.

Makes sure you have a FLashlight and Keep together.
Stay Indoors.

DO not venture out during the Hurricane.

Sounds and Noises you have never heard before will be coming soon.

Hunker down time is closing in.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 433 Comments: 132801
833. sarahjola
7:17 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
i am looking at channel 6 news radar and i see the eye about to approach landfall on tx/la boarder. what do you all think. and what kind of effects will it have on us in Louisiana? go to wdsu.com and look at the interactive radar. it has def. gone more north. as i said before tx/la boarder. its coming fast too!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
832. AtmosphericWrath
7:25 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Member Since: September 6, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 34
831. rwdobson
7:26 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
"The reason I asked that question is IF Ike starts to turn now, it is possible he could ride back Eastward down the coast"

not happening. the trough will pull the storm north, not just east along the coast.
Member Since: June 12, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 1592
830. rlpellegrin
7:14 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Quoting BigTuna:


MHS '94 here. I hear the lakefront is swamped like it was back during Andrew. I remember walking around in chest-high water and the police were trying to scare people away by claiming there were open manhole covers. Ah, the stupidity of youth... love it.


MHS 96 here....I didn't think it was this bad for Andrew? Looks like it could be worse?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
829. CybrTeddy
7:26 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
I think we could end up seeing damage in the 90 Billions.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
828. tiggeriffic
7:25 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Gas up in Charleston SC also just as I said it would be yesterday...some of the chains even putting a 10 gal limit on purchase...
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3666
827. melianthus
7:00 PM GMT on September 12, 2008
Officials in Terrebone Parish Louisiana have called for a mandatory evacuation for most of lower Terrebone due to flooding. The waters continue to rise well past what was projected by the National Weather Service. Did y'all get that? The NWS UNDERPROJECTED the amount of water that is now being seen in Southeast Louisiana. So much for people believing that NWS hypes everything.

The water levels are less than a foot from where they were during Rita, and are still rising. There are lots of levee breaches in other parishes as well. Things are looking really bad in some areas south of N.O.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 877 - 827

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
63 °F
Mostly Cloudy

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Dunham Lake Sunset
Carrot Nose in Danger
Deep Snow in Brookline, MA
Sunset at Fort DeSoto