I wasn't going to blog the storm, but I've gotten a kind comment from Dorita, and a couple of emails from regular friends/readers who have my email, so I'm gonna take some time today and just do a little quick writing. (and dorita, if you can figure out a way to trade email addresses without making them too public, I'm game. After the storm.)
First let me say that despite my obvious happiness that this storm is now projected to land a good ways east of here, somewhere between Beaumont/Port Arthur and far West Louisiana, this is still a really big storm that is going to do some severe damage on its near east side, probably up into Lake Charles.
And I'll write a separate post on all the traffic/evacuation problems later today/tonight. My sister and her family tried to evacuate late Wednesday night, and just turned around 45 miles north of Houston and came back around 5:30 PM yesterday. I'll tell the story later.
But, I'm gonna concentrate on Houston and conditions here because that is where I have the most information.
Briefly, current projections say that East Houston on the water, Galveston bay and the ship channel area will only see a 4-6 foot rise in water level, and because that area is behind the barrier islands, it shouldn't see very big waves on top of that rise. So probably flooding, but comparatively slight compared to what we were looking at 24-48 hours ago. It looks like the Port Arthur through Lake Charles area are going to take the brunt of the east side of the storm. 20' storm surge with big waves on top of that. So, pray for them, they're taking the bullet on this one.
Expecting some minor to moderate flooding in Galveston and Bolivar, coming from the backside(mainland side) but the island is not going completely under water which was predicted about 36 hours ago. And the seawall should hold against the predicted tides.
Predicted winds are 90 mph gusting to 110mph on Galveston coast. In central/west Houston/ Harris County about 50 miles inland, we are currently predicted to have 60-65mph winds gusting to 75mph. And somewhere around 5-6" of rain. So, we're just getting a pretty nasty storm here, not the city killer that we were looking at 36 hours ago.
So, basically, we should all be in pretty good shape in Houston. Tree limbs down, and power outages are now the biggest concern. So if I stop posting here, it's not cause I'm floating out to sea, but because we've lost power. But in 95 degree heat and 100% humidity, that lack of air and water is a pretty big deal. But, on the water front, anecdotal information in Houston tells me that most people did a pretty good job preparing, the images of Katrina scaring the bejesus out of everybody. Plus, short of some downed limbs and trees, access to our area should be pretty easy for relief efforts.
But I gotta say this, the people at the point of the storm on the TX/LA border might be less prepared. They didn't start evacuating til late, cause the storm turned towards them late, so I would guess that they also didn't start gathering supplies til late.
But it appears they did a hell of a job evacuating the Beaumont area, I've seen no info from Lake Charles. But, afterwards, relief from the north should be significantly faster than Katrina both because of geographical differences, and because you can bet that the Bush admin is going to just pour supplies in after all the Katrina press.
And there is one more concern in general. I'm sure the national media is covering the New Orleans levee breaks, so you probably have more info than I do, I've been focused on us, but Rita is currently projected to stall out in NE Texas and NW Louisiana, and rain heavy for DAYS, dropping 12-24+ inches of rain in upper La. And alot of that water is going to flow back down into the Mississippi and potentially into New Orleans. So that situation may get much worse in the next week.
Okay, enough for now. I promise I will post later on the traffic and evacuation. And thanks everbody for the concern, but it looks like the most were going to suffer is major inconveniences. Turn your well wishes towards the people on the near east side of the storm. This thing looks like it is going to do some pretty serious damage. I just hope that alot of that water is poured into some of the less populated areas.
UPDATE/INCLUSION: I forgot. Current conditions where I am. Hot, humid, and a little grey. Just guessing 90-92 degrees 90-100% humidity, wind gusting to 15 mph, solid cloudy but not ominous. No rain yet, and no visible signs of change looking Southeast towards the storm. And no sign of any animals, other than my 16 year old dog. No squirrels, no birds, no movement/ no sound. 3:45PM local Houston/central time.