This storm is going to change very quickly over the next few hours and things have changed quite a bit in the last 24 hours. Ike is pickng up speed as it comes ashore and is now predicted to make landfall MUCH earlier than previously predicted. Not early Saturday morning but perhaps within the next few hours well before midnight as it is only 110 miles now off the coast of Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula. The peninsula looks to take the full brunt of the storm as it is in the way of the very powerful Northeast Quadrant of the storm which historically is the most dangerous part of any hurricane.
I got an email from a subscriber this afternoon about storm surge.
“Why are they (the media) saying that the storm surge in Galveston will be over 20 feet but further down the coast only up to 7 feet. Why is it so different even though it’s within a 20 mile area?”
First, thanks for your very adroit question and second, the reason is simply geography. As in tsunami conditions, as the waves come in the water is coming up the continental shelf. Therefore you’ll see greater damage where there is less resistance e.g. where the shelf has a longer sloping, gentle grade.
That storm surge will be much greater and catastrophic in destruction than where the shelf has a sharper drop off.
That’s one reason. Another reason is in this case parts of the Houston area could see CAT 4 style storm surge because the land is low lying (bayou wetland areas) and indeed at a lower elevation than at seaside. In addition, coastal communities south of the Houston area down the coast will not receive as much of a punch from the wind as from the eye landfall area and the Northeast Quadrant. The eye is roughly 75 miles wide at present.
According to the latest reports from KHOU in Houston, there are more than 24,000 folks that stayed to ride out the storm on Galveston Island. Hurricane force winds should begin to hit the island by 6:00 pm CDT this evening and going through the night until daybreak. When will it end? The current prediction is sometime Saturday afternoon.