Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
lockmat

Preparing for after effects of Major Hurricanes

Recommended Posts

What would happen if a major hurricane made a direct hit on Houston and NASA's Johnson Space Center? Researchers at the center for Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters, SSPEED, at Rice University in Houston have received a grant of $1.25 million to find out.

Hurricane Ike, which struck the Texas coast on September 13, 2008, ranks as the third-costliest hurricane in U.S. history with an estimated price tag of around $32 billion. Yet, Ike dealt Houston only a glancing blow.

SSPEED scientists want to know what would have happened if Ike had not weakened but had hit the city at full force.

"It opened a lot of eyes to the vulnerabilities we face from a big storm. The reality is that we have developed this entire region without regard to the risks of a big hurricane."

"Another thing we plan to do is couple the models for storm-surge predictions with those for rainfall-induced flooding," Bedient said. "I'm not aware of anyone that's combining these right now, but for a heavily populated watershed like Clear Creek, that is absolutely essential because the problems compound one another."

Texans need to be smarter about how they use land and develop private property that is vulnerable to storm surges. He said Texans also need to better prepare for storm recovery.

"A lot's been done with evacuation since Rita, but a good bit less attention has been paid to what to do after the storm hits,"

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2009/2009-06-22-093.asp

---------

Are we ready for a major hurricane to directly hit us? Answering this question could be just as important as any in determining our economic prosperity and future.

What do yall think?

Edited by lockmat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After what Ike did I couldn't imagine a Category 4 or 5 storm hitting Houston / Galveston... scary thought. :ph34r:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
After what Ike did I couldn't imagine a Category 4 or 5 storm hitting Houston / Galveston... scary thought. :ph34r:

No kidding. A direct hit from a Category 5? Worse than New Orleans after Katrina. Well, minus the 9ft bathtub ring from the levee failure, but it would only take a couple of feet of water to make whole sections of the city uninhabitable. Flooding much worse than Allison, over a much wider area. Wind damage 2, 3 times worse than Ike. Weeks without electricity. Compromised water suppply. The JSC, Medical Center, petro chem plants, mostly out of commission. Thousands upon thousands of desperately poor people displaced. Countless businesses would never return. Losses so high that insurers would stop writing policies, in turn depressing the housing market.

What if, right after a monster storm, we got extreme heat like we have now? Talk about misery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No kidding. A direct hit from a Category 5? Worse than New Orleans after Katrina. Well, minus the 9ft bathtub ring from the levee failure, but it would only take a couple of feet of water to make whole sections of the city uninhabitable. Flooding much worse than Allison, over a much wider area. Wind damage 2, 3 times worse than Ike. Weeks without electricity. Compromised water suppply. The JSC, Medical Center, petro chem plants, mostly out of commission. Thousands upon thousands of desperately poor people displaced. Countless businesses would never return. Losses so high that insurers would stop writing policies, in turn depressing the housing market.

What if, right after a monster storm, we got extreme heat like we have now? Talk about misery.

Actually, not too long before landfall, Hurricane Rita was a five and her eastern wall was expected to go right over my house in the Heights. Had that happened, yes Houston would been devastated. The wind in a category 5 is devastating regardless of rainfall amounts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know it would be bad, but would it really be THAT devistating? How many times has Miami been hit really hard by a huge one?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I know it would be bad, but would it really be THAT devistating? How many times has Miami been hit really hard by a huge one?

Hurricane Andrew, Category 5, completely devastated Homestead which is just south of Miami. Miami did not take a direct hit. I went to MIami shortly after Andrew hit, and had been just before. The Everglades were GONE. All the houses in Homestead were GONE. Miami had a lot of damage but nothing like it would have had had it taken a direct hit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No kidding. A direct hit from a Category 5? Worse than New Orleans after Katrina. Well, minus the 9ft bathtub ring from the levee failure, but it would only take a couple of feet of water to make whole sections of the city uninhabitable. Flooding much worse than Allison, over a much wider area. Wind damage 2, 3 times worse than Ike. Weeks without electricity. Compromised water suppply. The JSC, Medical Center, petro chem plants, mostly out of commission. Thousands upon thousands of desperately poor people displaced. Countless businesses would never return. Losses so high that insurers would stop writing policies, in turn depressing the housing market.

What if, right after a monster storm, we got extreme heat like we have now? Talk about misery.

Geez, Crunch. Forget about the depressing housing market, your comments are depressing ME. :mellow: However, they're all good points.

Remember that with Ike, we were hammered for so many hours because of the size of it. I'm not so worried about wind because they're not likly to "Blow the House Down". What is it they say Run from the water, hide from the wind?

I was here during Alicia and it was hot as hell after that storm, with no power for a week. My friend's/family's policy is to stay put during the storm to take care of your stuff and whoever has power after the storm can expect company.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hurricane Andrew, Category 5, completely devastated Homestead which is just south of Miami. Miami did not take a direct hit. I went to MIami shortly after Andrew hit, and had been just before. The Everglades were GONE. All the houses in Homestead were GONE. Miami had a lot of damage but nothing like it would have had had it taken a direct hit.

I too, drove through Homestead, on my way to Key West, after Andrew. Ignore my comment above - those houses were "Blown the Hell Down". Of course central Houston is 45-50 miles inland, where Homestead is/was not. The pine trees looked like toothpicks sticking out of the ground.

I also went to the Acadiana Music Festival in Lafayette after Andrew. It was messed up too, but nothing like Fla.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not a sarcastic question: is there ANYPLACE really safe in the U.S. to live weatherwise? My nephew's wife grew up in Nashville, and she almost faints anytime she hears the word "tornado". When they lived near San Francisco, she was afraid of earthquakes. My in-laws in California fear mudslides and wildfires. Gulf Coast has hurricanes. My friend in Omaha has tornado threats, tons of snow some winters, then a flood threat during the spring thaw. My friend in Wisconsin deals with killer winters. Is there any magical region where Mother Nature isn't out to get you? :o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not a sarcastic question: is there ANYPLACE really safe in the U.S. to live weatherwise? My nephew's wife grew up in Nashville, and she almost faints anytime she hears the word "tornado". When they lived near San Francisco, she was afraid of earthquakes. My in-laws in California fear mudslides and wildfires. Gulf Coast has hurricanes. My friend in Omaha has tornado threats, tons of snow some winters, then a flood threat during the spring thaw. My friend in Wisconsin deals with killer winters. Is there any magical region where Mother Nature isn't out to get you? :o

There was a time that I was so freaked out by tsunamis, hurricanes and avalanches that I was trying to think of the place. I couldn't come up with one. I think the lesson is that there is risk everywhere. Assess what kind you want. I like hurricanes because you have lots of warning when they are coming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the lead time to prepare as well and the chance that very little could happen, depending on what area of town one is in. I think Houston is pretty lucky in that regard. Sure, we had no power for a month because the trees in our area did so much damage, but they also broke up the straight-line winds. I'd rather have no power than no roof.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I like the lead time to prepare as well and the chance that very little could happen, depending on what area of town one is in. I think Houston is pretty lucky in that regard. Sure, we had no power for a month because the trees in our area did so much damage, but they also broke up the straight-line winds. I'd rather have no power than no roof.

I agree. Do you know there were people who wanted to cut most of our trees down after because "they" caused so much damage? Short sighted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree. Do you know there were people who wanted to cut most of our trees down after because "they" caused so much damage? Short sighted.

The neighbors across the street from me have a 100+ year old oak tree. I watched it throughout the storm and it barely moved. Of course, they keep it properly maintained and had just had it trimmed and thinned a month or so prior. My new maples were swinging in the wind!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The neighbors across the street from me have a 100+ year old oak tree. I watched it throughout the storm and it barely moved. Of course, they keep it properly maintained and had just had it trimmed and thinned a month or so prior. My new maples were swinging in the wind!

And then there is the oak on 8th Street that fell into the house, splitting it in two. You can't predict things like that...except for pine trees. They will snap guaranteed. My 2 year old maples both ended up leaning slightly to the east. I left them that way so that in future years I can point to the curve in their trunks as a reminder of Ike.

Homes built in the City of Houston will generally withstand a big hurricane. They are required to be built to withstand 115 mph winds. Because we are inland, even a huge storm will quickly degenerate to a more manageable level, sparing all but the most cheaply built homes. The problems will be away from the house itself. The aforementioned trees falling on homes and power lines, flooding of low-lying areas (though not as bad as Alison, as hurricanes produce less rain than tropical storms), interruptions in supplies of gas and food, etc. The best preparations for city dwellers, other than putting up the lawn chairs and trimming your trees, is preparing for the aftermath. Non-perishable food and water, a full tank of gas in the car, battery operated lights and radio, and perhaps a generator and a small AC unit to cool one room of the house. Unfortunately, there are not many good portable digital TVs out yet. Hopefully, some good ones will come out in the next year or so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And then there is the oak on 8th Street that fell into the house, splitting it in two. You can't predict things like that...except for pine trees. They will snap guaranteed. My 2 year old maples both ended up leaning slightly to the east. I left them that way so that in future years I can point to the curve in their trunks as a reminder of Ike.

Homes built in the City of Houston will generally withstand a big hurricane. They are required to be built to withstand 115 mph winds. Because we are inland, even a huge storm will quickly degenerate to a more manageable level, sparing all but the most cheaply built homes. The problems will be away from the house itself. The aforementioned trees falling on homes and power lines, flooding of low-lying areas (though not as bad as Alison, as hurricanes produce less rain than tropical storms), interruptions in supplies of gas and food, etc. The best preparations for city dwellers, other than putting up the lawn chairs and trimming your trees, is preparing for the aftermath. Non-perishable food and water, a full tank of gas in the car, battery operated lights and radio, and perhaps a generator and a small AC unit to cool one room of the house. Unfortunately, there are not many good portable digital TVs out yet. Hopefully, some good ones will come out in the next year or so.

And remember this, normally it is as high as 100 degrees after a hurricane and terribly terribly still - breezewise. Think the very first night after the hurricane. We were so incredibly lucky to get the cool front that we did, and for it to last as long as it did. We didn't suffer ANYTHING like New Orleans has with Katrina. People died from the heat alone.

I disagree with the downgrading of the storm if it came to Houston. If it is a large storm like Rita was, it would not downgrade but maybe one or at the most two categories, if at all, before hitting Houston. REmember, when Ike came in, it came into Galveston as a Category 2. Think of three categories above that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And remember this, normally it is as high as 100 degrees after a hurricane and terribly terribly still - breezewise. Think the very first night after the hurricane. We were so incredibly lucky to get the cool front that we did, and for it to last as long as it did. We didn't suffer ANYTHING like New Orleans has with Katrina. People died from the heat alone.

I disagree with the downgrading of the storm if it came to Houston. If it is a large storm like Rita was, it would not downgrade but maybe one or at the most two categories, if at all, before hitting Houston. REmember, when Ike came in, it came into Galveston as a Category 2. Think of three categories above that.

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/wind/gulf_144.shtml

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think you are looking at the chart correctly. The maximum windspeed of a 144 mph storm at landfall drops to no more than 109 mph within about 10-15 miles of the coast. By the time it reaches I-10, all but the fastest moving storms will drop to 92 mph maximum windspeed. Also, Cat 5 hurricanes are notoriously unstable. Given their unstable nature, and the fact that the Gulf is very shallow in front of Galveston, it is unlikely that a storm would even be a Cat 5 at landfall.

This is not to say that 109 mph winds are not dangerous. Ike blew through the Heights at mid-80s. It is merely to say that current City of Houston building codes are sufficient for virtually all storms that might hit the area. The problems will come from unincorporated areas without hurricane straps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ike was a unique storm. So much so that this year they will change the way the Saffir Simpson Scale is calculated.

There have been a bunch of studies and articles on this but this was the easiest to lay my hands on at the moment. A direct hit Cat 5 "normal" storm would have had more wind damage and less surge damage. I'll take wind damage if I have the option to choose.

Here's the hurricane center's justification:

The current Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (SSHS) dates to 1975 and is based on expected hurricane wind speed but includes storm surge ranges and other storm-related information. The inclusion of storm surge information is scientifically inaccurate because surge is a product of many factors not considered in the scale such as storm size and forward speed, and bathymetry. Storm surge values for each category are frequently incorrect. A most recent example of this is Hurricane Ike in 2008. The storm made landfall with Category 2 winds. However, the storm surge at Galveston was equivalent to what is currently defined for the Category 4 -5 storm range.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) and Weather Forecast Office (WFO) Houston provided deterministic forecasts in their products on the extreme storm surge, but reports from Emergency Managers came back with many residents stating they would not evacuate because the storm was only a SSHS Category 2 or 3.

http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/200...onal_hurric.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...