Thursday, September 11, 2008

Texas, Time to "Hunker Down"!

Having experienced several hurricanes during my life, I have a healthy respect for these storms. I lived in Houston during both Hurricanes Carla (1961) and Alicia (1983). During Carla, I was eight years old, yet I have vivid memories of it. When Alicia hit, the Lovely Spouse and I had a new baby. Since we had no power for days after the storm passed, we used a gasoline-powered camp stove to sterilize bottles. It appears that Ike is more on the scale of Carla, much bigger than Alicia was. Carla reached Category 5 status, and hit the Texas coast at Galveston as a Category 4. I remember the beach at Galveston littered with huge boulders that had been pushed out of the sea, and dead jellyfish splattered all over the place after Carla moved out. It was such a catastrophic storm that the name was retired from further use.

This satellite image of Hurricane Ike, shows how far out cloud bands can extend. You can see clouds from the storm reaching from Belize to Cuba, Florida, and the New Orleans area. There are not storm conditions out this far, but the system itself is quite large. With the storm now projected to make landfall near Freeport, Texas, my thoughts turn to my parents who live in Houston. They are in their 70s and less mobile than they once were, so I always have concern when a hurricane enters the Gulf. I can say that I am glad for modern satellite imagery and weather radar, which gives advance warning and gives one time to make preparations. In earlier times, there were no such forecasting tools. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 killed about 8,000 people. Despite the seawall, a huge storm today could put Galveston Island under the water even today.

So while I am glad to be living at over a mile above sea level and a thousand miles inland, I am keeping an eye on the situation. For all of you on the Texas coast; evacuate if you are in a storm surge area or live in a mobile home; otherwise "hunker down" as they say down there. And stay away from parts of your homes near trees.