Hurricane Rita. It would make one hell of a drink... but it could be a frightening cousin to Katrina. Just three weeks since Hurricane Katrina unleashed catastrophe on the Central Gulf Coast, this new storm threatens still more destruction. She is entering the September Gulf tonight where water temperatures are edging upwards of 88 deg F. The Gulf of Mexico is like gasoline for storm combustion at the moment and early projections for this storm aim it right at my heartland. The entirety of my clan exists between Houston and Austin and currently, they are facing a world of hurt if this storm lights fire and plows into the Texas Coast. The immediate destruction of sustained winds, and the accompanying storm surge are formidable enough. But as the storm reaches inland unloading its contents, flash flooding is certain. The Guadalupe, Colorado, Brazos, and Trinity Rivers are some of the main tributaries to be headed. But, anyone from Central Texas knows that a trickling branch can turn into a raging torrent within minutes. Then there are tornados.
In Texas alone, 3 major cities lie in this storm's path, along with two smaller ones. Houston, and Corpus Christi hug the coast - north and south respectively. Galveston hangs out in the Gulf on a barrier island at the mouth of the Ship Channel (Oops.. geographic correction. That is Trinity Bay). San Antonio and Austin are about 180 miles inland and typically bear the brunt of flooding and tornado damage as happened in Austin in 1980 when Hurricane Allen spawned a deadly tornado that caused $100 million dollars in damage.
Many of these cities are already hosting refugees from Katrina's destruction, and now face tribulations of their own as do their unfortunate guests.
As with Katrina, we'll hope for the best and expect the worst. I am off for a week of vacation. Nevertheless, I intend to keep track of this storm as best I can through news, web and other blogs as well as direct accounts for family and friends both before and after. I will convey that information to our readers as the opportunity permits, so keep checking back here through the week and into the weekend for updates, as well as new posts from my fellow Sandmen.
I guess I should go home and thank the fetching Mrs. Atos. If I had one the coin toss, we would have been heading for Port Aransas this weekend instead of New England.
Stay tuned. Meantime, here are some resources that can provide real-time information about Hurricane Rita:
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Free Republic Live Thread
AP:Forecasters fear Hurricane Rita's strength
KEY WEST, Fla. - Rapidly strengthening Hurricane Rita lashed the Florida Keys on Tuesday and headed into the Gulf of Mexico, where forecasters feared it could develop into another blockbuster storm targeting Texas or Louisiana.UPDATE:
Oh my God! Here are Storm surge projections using video animation for Galvestion, Texas City, and La Porte. (HT: Freeper Hobson) Click on 'Storm Surge,' and cycle through 'Next.' Then pick a specific location and watch. If you live there, make plans to get out. If you doubt, go pick up a copy of Erik Larson's book and read it tomorrow.
Hurricane Rita has ignited in the Gulf. As of Wednesday morning she is already a Category 4 with sustained winds in excess of 130mph. From the AP, Rita, now Category 4, heads for Gulf Coast.
Rita intensified into a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday with wind of 135 mph, deepening concerns that the storm could devastate coastal Texas and already-battered Louisiana by week's end.
Mandatory evacuations already have been ordered for New Orleans and Galveston, Texas, one day after Rita skirted the Florida Keys as a Category 2 storm, causing minimal damage.
And her journey across the Gulf has just begun. See the latest 5-day cone from NOAA
Michelle Malkin is Blogging Rita as well with constant updates and great links. She's the bomb... her own perfect storm of news and information.
All eyes are on Galveston and Houston, but as the updated tracks keep indicating, this storm seems to be tacking west' getting ever closer to Corpus Christi. From the Corpus Christi Caller-Times:
The Port of Corpus Christi has started emergency preparedness procedures and is working with the U.S. Coast Guard to prioritize ship dockings in the Inner Harbor of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. The port's plan includes steps should the storm surge, flooding and strong winds breach the seawall, according a port-issued news release.Military equipment will be relocated to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and the port is setting up a secondary command post up town in Corpus Christi and a third post at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio.Port personnel have access to satellite phones and Yahoo e-mail addresses should they experience a power failure. All non-essential personnel will leave Thursday and the port will be locked Friday, according to the port
The Naval Air Station is being evacuated as well,
Navy Region South has ordered an evacuation of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Naval Station Ingleside and Naval Air Station Kingsville no later than noon Thursday.
Between Corpus and Galveston there is a long stretch of nothing, with the exception of smaller coastal towns. That is an ideal strike zone for this storm. It wont spare the State from flash flooding and tornados, but the effect of the destructive winds and tidal surge would be minimized. I wouldn't want to be in Victoria on Friday night, that's for sure.