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WeatherInsights®: The Weather Channel Blog

September 17, 2008
A Category 2 brings untold misery
Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist

Where to start? I guess with that satellite image from when Ike was sprawled across the Gulf of Mexico last Thursday evening. Oftentimes meteorologists will caution that the extent of clouds is giving an erroneous impression of how large in size a given tropical cyclone's circulation is, as high clouds can extend well beyond that. In this case, as expansive as Ike appears in this image, tropical storm force winds extended to the north and northeast beyond the orange-enhanced cloud canopy.

It was that size that had me stunned in my first and follow-up pre-landfall entries, and still has me in awe. The maximum radius of tropical storm force winds at landfall (extending 275 miles from the center) was quite a bit larger than even that of Katrina (230), and even though Ike was not as strong as Katrina, its maximum radius of hurricane-force winds was almost as big (120 vs. 125 miles). For perspective, hurricane force winds in Andrew, much more intense wind-wise but a very compact hurricane, were estimated to have extended out only about 30 miles from the center as it approached South Florida.

The moral of Ike's story is pretty well summed up by the interviewee in this video clip, taken on the day before landfall.

"Why didn't you evacuate?"

"Cat 2. "

The Saffir-Simpson Scale was a tremendous advance in the 1970s that still serves its purpose. But it does have its limitations, as Dr. Lyons wrote about nearly three years ago.

Ike's namesake, IKE (Integrated Kinetic Energy), offers an alternative to the Saffir-Simpson Scale, but it has not yet received wide usage, and it has its own share of limitations and thus it too is not a panacea. And aside from the complexities of wind and surge/waves, rainfall can be extreme even with "weak" tropical cyclones.

The scale's categories are defined by the wind speeds associated with them; other elements such as surge heights and central pressure vary from hurricane to hurricane. Compare the water rise of Category 2 Ike, which was at least in the 10-15 feet range with some unofficial reports of higher levels (assessments are ongoing), with traditional rules of thumb such as 6-8 feet for a Cat 2 as indicated in this NOAA graphic:

Ike's large expanse of wind stirred up massive waves, which outran the hurricane and resulted in that initial significant rise in water levels on the upper Texas coast Thursday night and Friday morning (and previously as far east as the Florida Panhandle). That's known as "wave setup," a phenomenon which Dr. Lyons also wrote about a couple of years ago.

That gave additional oomph to the subsequent surge on the Texas coast directly produced by the wind as Ike's center made landfall during the wee hours early in the morning on Saturday, September 13. Also, the size of the wind field extended the surge all the way across the Louisiana coast, which isn't prone to waves but is very vulnerable to surge.

Furthermore, the size of Ike caused tree, power line, and structural damage from wind to be widespread, and even though there's the perception that a hurricane suddenly becomes much worse when going from Cat 2 to Cat 3 in intensity because now it's a "major" hurricane, in reality there's not that much difference between a high-end Category 2 and a low-end Category 3.

There is, however, a big difference between one in that range and a Category 4 or 5 (or for that matter even a high-end Category 3). So a worst-case intensity scenario would have been for Ike to have not only been as big as Katrina but also as strong as Katrina or Rita were when they were large Category 5s over the Gulf, and then make landfall while at peak strength.

And this wasn't quite the worst-case scenario track for Houston or Galveston; slightly to the left, and the more intense winds would have enveloped the whole Houston metro area including the western suburbs, and the surge on the west side of Galveston Bay and in the Ship Channel would have been higher as it would also have been on Galveston Island.

But regardless of all of that, the point is that as it was, Ike was potent enough to cause significant wind and water damage across a large area; this was the worst-case track scenario for some locations; and for everyone this was pretty much the worst-case size scenario.

[Above: a wild-looking Ike as it menaces the Gulf Coast shortly prior to landfall.]

And speaking of worst-case scenarios, that leads me to segue out of the first part of the title of this entry (Category 2) and into the second part: the misery which is untold, in both senses of the definition of that word (being beyond description, and the literal meaning of "not told").

On Saturday, I couldn't believe what was happening. Maybe I was hallucinating, having not slept the night before? Surely I didn't actually hear/read stuff on the teevee/web that things weren't as bad as forecasters thought they would be. But then I got some sleep Saturday night and Sunday night, and so it couldn't be my imagination that since then there has been an infinitesimally small amount of media coverage of the aftermath of Ike compared to that of Katrina. In fact, for awhile yesterday on the news portal page of a major search engine's website, there wasn't one word about Ike included amongst all the featured stories.

Now I know that there have been other things going on which I don't want to minimize the importance of, such as the Presidential election campaign and a really, really bad day for the stock market ... but a weather disaster of enormous scope has just occurred.

Let's start with that business about a bullet having been dodged.

The storm surge wasn't as bad as expected?!

We'll have to wait and see what the final verdict is on exactly what the highest water level rise was and how that compares to what was forecast. And as noted above, if Ike had intensified a bit more and made landfall just slightly farther southwest, the surge heights in Houston on the west side of Galveston Bay, and in Galveston, would have been higher. But my goodness, they were high enough! Not as high as Katrina's, but a 28'+ surge was not necessary for Ike to cause a catastrophe. Regardless of the specific numbers, what's important is what the resultant impact is.

The effects from Ike were severe in the bayside portions of Houston and in Surfside Beach, the next town down from Galveston on the Gulf, and particularly bad on portions of the west end of Galveston Island. Even in the seawall area the damage was extensive and the situation is grim, with the mayor warning that her city was heading toward a "downward spiral" and is not fit for habitation.

The Galveston seawall, built in the wake of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the nation's deadliest with an estimated 8,000 to possibly as many as 12,000 fatalities, had only really been tested a couple of other times, from a direct hit by a Category 4 hurricane in 1915 and indirectly by Category 4 Carla in 1961, whose center made landfall well down the coast.

Alicia in 1983 was another example of the issues with size, the Saffir-Simpson Scale, etc. Although Alicia, which also damaged the skyscrapers in downtown Houston, was a "major" Category 3 hurricane, its measured winds on land weren't even that much stronger than Ike's, and Alicia was much smaller so the exent of wind damage was narrower and the surge and waves didn't even begin to compare with Ike's.

So while there's no doubt the seawall mitigated the destruction landward from it during Ike, one wonders whether it gave a false sense of security in regard to the overall degree to which it would protect the city from disaster.

Now let's move to the northeast side of Galveston Bay, specifically on the shores of its Trinity Bay offshoot, in Anahuac. The Associated Press is reporting that 98% of the homes there were destroyed.

[AP Photo / Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Earl Nottingham: Mike Casanova displays a flag on the remains of his home in Oak Island, Texas on the shore of Trinity Bay near Anahuac, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008.]

And now to the Bolivar Peninsula, next up the coast from Galveston on the Gulf. It is being described as now consisting of three islands, rather than a peninsula. And although so-named, High Island was not previously actually an island. Note also the oily sheen to the water on the photograph below.

[AP Photo / Smiley N. Pool: High Island, Texas, on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008]

Another community on the Bolivar Peninsula (or at least what used to be that), the town of Gilchrist, is essentially gone.

The devastation there is reminiscent of what Hurricane Rita did to Holly Beach, Louisiana in 2005 and what the EF5 tornado did to Greensburg, Kansas last year. But note how in a photo of Greensburg after the tornado, many of the destroyed buildings had a portion of their structure remaining, and there were piles of debris, whereas in Gilchrist all of the buildings (other than the few still standing) and debris have been completely swept away. That's a testament to the power of water and in particular waves.

[AP Photo / David J. Phillip: Gilchrist, Texas on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008]

The Gilchrist photo above is similar to the one taken in Hiroshima immediately below it. On Monday I sent the photos I'm embedding in this blog around in an email to the operational staff at TWC as well as some others that now reside in a slide show on weather.com, and one of my colleagues noted that a distinction between Gilchrist and Hiroshima is that the latter was a large city. That's true, and of course there are other profound differences.

But the utter annihilation of most of the buildings that had previously been present is the same, and the fact that Gilchrist is (was?) a small town is one of the key points here: the aftermath in small communities ought not be ignored just because they're not big cities like New Orleans or Houston. The media is not giving the aftermath of Ike nearly the same level of attention as that of Katrina, yet to folks in places such as Gilchrist, this was just as apocalyptic as Katrina was to the communities it devastated.

One might argue, though, that in terms of the sheer scope of the disaster, this doesn't rival Katrina, does it? Well, so far the death toll doesn't even remotely come close, and for that we are grateful (yet we fear how much higher it might go). And we need to keep in mind the perspective relative to the scale of other recent tropical cyclone calamaties such as Nargis in Myanmar (Burma), which is estimated to have killed almost 140,000 people, and Sidr in Bangladesh.

However, that doesn't make this disaster any less real. I've already noted the extent of the damage in the Houston/Galveston area, and the Bolivar Peninsula, and now let's move up the coast.

At Sabine Pass on the border between Texas and Louisiana, the surge height reached 12 1/2 feet (green line on the graph below), which set a record for that location and thus was higher than from either Rita or 1957's Audrey.

That's approximately 70 miles from where the center of Ike made landfall and thus is again representative of the hurricane's size, and it's that portion of the surge -- near the TX/LA border and on into southwest Louisiana -- which affected places such as Orange and Bridge City in Texas, and Cameron and Hackberry and Lake Charles in Louisiana. And it didn't stop there.

To give you an idea of the incredible breadth of Ike's surge, here are post-hurricane images from Delcambre, Louisiana, and Plaquemines Parish, which are 210 and 325 miles, respectively, from Surfside Beach, that town near Galveston.

[AP Photo / Richard Alan Hannon: Delcambre, La. Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008]

[AP Photo / The Times-Picayune, Michael DeMocker: Plaquemines Parish, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008]

High surge values were recorded across Louisiana including all the way to Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain, and earlier Ike had produced elevated water levels on the Alabama & Mississippi coasts and the Florida Panhandle.

And that's just the surge and waves. Then there was the wind from Ike and its remnants which blasted everywhere from Houston & Galveston to upstate New York; and flooding rains from Houston (directly a result of Ike) to Missouri to Chicago (which Ike's remnants exacerbated).

There aren't many hurricanes in U.S. history with that totality of severe impacts, and Ike had already left a horrific legacy in other countries.

But does anyone outside the affected areas care? This is reminiscent of when relatively little attention was focused on Mississippi after Katrina; or, as I blogged about again and again and again, southwest Louisiana after Rita; or as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, interior Louisiana after Gustav.

The key is to neither sensationalize nor underplay. In April 2007 I expressed concern over the media's hype of an upcoming storm and then afterward in analyzing the outcome I noted that "the details of images (still or video), words, and sound all help to shape perception. What people see/read/hear helps to shape their view of the 'truth,' and that includes about weather events." ... "That ability resides with websites and newspapers and radio and TV stations, and yes, that includes TWC and even this blog!"

It's not like there's no attention whatsoever being given to Ike's legacy by the national and international media -- there have been some dramatic images shown, and even though The Weather Channel video network is primarily forecast-oriented, quite a few on-air segments last evening were focused on Ike's aftermath -- but I'm trying to use this blog to further raise awareness about what happened and keep it front and center.

The recovery is going to be long and difficult, and take not days or weeks, but months and years, and of course there's the passion-igniting issue of whether destroyed coastal locations should even rebuild. Also present is the matter of the number of people who didn't evacuate, and other controversial goings-on such as the amount of communication allowed to the press by Galveston officials.

Be all that as it may, countless people are reeling, and I'm not sure the rest of the nation and world realize the nature of the disaster in Galveston and other individual communities much less the total magnitude of the catastrophe in the U.S. and elsewhere. Many lives of people and animals have been lost, many homes and businesses no longer exist, many others have sustained major damage as have many boats (and several offshore oil platforms), and many folks face an unpleasant recovery exacerbated in the near-term by an ongoing a lack of electricity. And while dealing with all the debris and mud, and damaged furniture and appliances and roofs, the threat of disease is a concern, as is carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.

At least we have a break following the recent month-long meteorological paroxysm, which started with Fay. This will (or at least it should) be the first time since names have been given to tropical storms and hurricanes that four in a row are retired because of the death and/or destruction they brought (Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike).

2008 is also the first season since storms have been named in which six consecutive ones made landfall in the United States (Cristobal's center stayed just offshore), and other countries have been hit very hard as well. This illustrates once again, by the way, the limitations of preseason outlooks, as it doesn't matter how many storms and hurricanes develop, it's what they do once they form: the details of their tracks, intensity ... and size.

Finally, though, for the first time since mid-August there are no hurricanes, tropical storms, or even tropical depressions in the Atlantic, Caribbean, or Gulf ... but we're still within the climatological peak of the season, and we'll need to remain vigilant ...


Check out this tale of survival from Crystal Beach, which is the next town down from Gilchrist on the Bolivar Peninsula ...


The article to which I linked above referred to "several" offshore platforms having been destroyed, but the AP is now reporting the number to be "at least 49."

The AP also reports this (click on that link for the full article; this is just an excerpt):

"Hundreds of people whose beachfront homes were wrecked by Hurricane Ike may be barred from rebuilding under a little-noticed Texas law. And even those whose houses were spared could end up seeing them condemned by the state. Now here's the saltwater in the wound: It could be a year before the state tells these homeowners what they may or may not do. Worse, if these homeowners do lose their beachfront property, they may get nothing in compensation from the state. The reason: A 1959 law known as the Texas Open Beaches Act."


Here's the story of that lone house still standing in the Gilchrist photo above.


And, if you hadn't seen this, an interesting aside which demonstrates the breadth of the impact of Ike's waves is a shipwreck which was uncovered way over on the Alabama coast.

Posted at 2:35 am ET
Comments on this entry (60)
It is hard for most people to understand what happens in a flood alone, much less a hurricane; that is because they have only seen the pictures on TV, and they have not experienced it themselves. For the people that have had their entire home destroyed, there are no words to describe their situation. Words like they will have to rebuilt are empty, in most cases stupid words. It takes money to do that. Where do they live in the meantime? Have we forgotten Katrina. For those who merely had flood water in their home, MERELY is a misnomer. Merely? That's a laugh. Everything touches the floor. So, EVERTHING is destroyed. The mold? Oh, the mold. In a hot, wet climate where there is no power for weeks. Did you ever try to kill mold? Floors have to come out. Walls have to come out. Don't forget the insulation. Probably even the ceilings. Cleaning products. Oh, that is really funny. Do you think that the water was nice and clean? Yucky, black water and mud is more like it with debris and vermin mixed in . Why do these people continue to live there? PLEASE! Who can afford to relocate? Then they have jobs, and we all know they are easy to find. NOT. How would you go about getting a home loan? Hmmm. Not simple answers, are they?
Posted by Joanne | September 26, 2008
If illegal immigrants can walk across 100 miles of desert in no shoes and go find a job and make a new home in a new place through sheer effort, why can't those "poor" people living in harms way do the same thing and relocate inland. My heart DOESN'T go out to people that choose to make bad life decisions.
Posted by Janet Arosta | September 22, 2008
To those who have made comments concerning where people choose to live or comments concerning the need for assistance ... Many of the areas most devastated by the storm were populated by low income working families. People who were born within 10 miles of where they currently live and who do not have the means to relocate let alone rebuild. People who must choose between flood insurance or clothes for the kids. Many of these people live in harms way because the land and houses are cheap ... because no one with the money to live elsewhere would want to live in a river bottom or on the edge of a swamp. But low income individuals have no choice if they are to own their own home. With the cost of living rising faster than income many of the affected people were having trouble paying their light bills even though they were working 40 hours a week and some cases working 2 jobs to make ends meet. Evacuating was not financially possible for many. Even though we heard about convoys of buses evacuating people these buses were deployed to metropolitan areas such as Galveston and Kema. What about the small low lying rural areas? How many buses went there? How were people notified that evacuation assistance was available in the smaller forgotten towns? Please don't condem others unless you have "walked a mile in their shoes."
Posted by GrannyN | September 21, 2008
Stu, thanks so much for this article. I have been perplexed by the lack of news coverage and wondering if I was the only one feeling this way. I live in the Pineywoods of East Texas, but my son and sister live in Houston and Beaumont, respectively, and my husband was working on one of the emergency crews sent to Orange. After our power was restored, I anxiously sought news of the aftermath of Ike only to find hardly any at all! Thanks again.
Posted by Teresa | September 21, 2008
We that live along the gulf area are not looking for handout from american people. We all pay taxes and try to support our families. We are not a whinny bunch. We work hard to live a decent life like everyone else. Ive heard people ask why we live here. My husband's job is in the refineries that give everyone else in the U.S. their gas and fuels. A a horrible act of naature can happen anywhere here in the south or in the north. I always hope the hurricanes will miss us but at the same time I don't want anyone else to feel its impact either. My brother called the other day to tell us his yard and basement were flooded (he lives by chicago Il) now says hell never again ask that stupid question of why I live here. IT can happen anywhere. People need to have some compassion for everyone. People that have been devastated by these storms are normal everyday people we are trying to feed our families, rebuild our lives, our homes, and work our jobs the ones that are still available to go to. Don't judge us for trying to get our lives back in order. I have never gotten help from fema nor ask for it. Some people need it alot more than others. They are tax paying citizens like everyone els. If we can bail out every other country and everyother big business I feel that our government should help our citizens everywhere in the U.S not just down here in the Gulf. I guess I'm just saying use a little sense when being rude about people who live in hurricane affected areas. It could be you
Posted by Anonymous | September 21, 2008
The big difference between Katrina & Ike (besides media coverage) is that 3 years from now we Texans won't be whining and feeling sorry for ourselves as Katrina victims are still doing. Rita was just as bad as Katrina, and most hit by Rita were also hit by Ike, but you don't hear them crying about it. Why? Because we are Texans. We are strong and we know sitting around crying and feeling sorry for ourselves isn't going to help us recover. And to Jack... I don't know where you are reading or hearing about subdivisions being wiped out; I see nothing about "subdivisions". Entire cities and towns were wiped out. And again, Katrina was 3 years ago, enough of the whining about it.
Posted by Proud Texan | September 21, 2008
how can one house be standing? it must ge well built!
Posted by joe | September 20, 2008
Yes this is a hurricane area but if no one lived here where would YOU get your gasoline as most of it is produced here and refined here. If we all moved out because of the chance of storms the rest of the world would not be a good place. Think of all the things that come through Houston ship channel and all the refineries here. Now think of all the things that YOU will have to do without because no one is here. Now think of where all of us millions will live. Tell us where to move that is not in a area that can have a major disaster. We are proud to be able to contribute to America's bounty. Maybe the next time a disaster happens elswere all of Texas should not help you. Just think of all YOU will not get. We are Texas proud here and feel very hurt by the way we are ignored and we do have long memories. May God bless YOU and not bring any problems to you.
Posted by Texasanproud | September 20, 2008
The sick, children, and the elderly should be the only that a mandatory evacuation should be issued for. hurricanes are natural disasters. key word natural. if your going to build your propery and live your life in a place volnurable to hurricanes then most ppl should just have to ball up and ride out the storm. panic sets in, ohh its frightening, dangerous, give me a break, in the early 1900's noone had any warnings, evacuation plans, etc.... they just fought mother nature and stayed with what they owned and what theyed worked all their lives to get. if everything gets destroyed, so be it. its not like leaving is going to prevent your house n property from being damaged. when we know its coming. we have time to prepare and know what we need to survive. ppl that leave and run from the innevitable will never know what it takes to survive in life threatening situations. which someday may not have such advanced warnings, preperations and guidlines to follow provided by sumone else. experiencing the wrath of mother nature is just somthing thats meant to happen. and to me in sum cases can be beautiful and extraordinarily excited. however my heart and prayers go out to those whos homes and property has been destroyed, as long as theyve worked hard to get it. just stay strong.
Posted by Anonymous | September 20, 2008
Untold Misery! That is the truth! Thanks Stu for this site. We followed these storms until we lost power and cable, with you. Hurricanes Ike and Gustav devastated the Gulf Coast, and many other areas of this Country. People can not imagine the lost to property and lives. It will take years to rebuild both. Thank you to everyone who is concerned, and have helped with these disasters. The disruption from everyday life, that all Americans enjoy, electricity, water, food, and energy are a luxury for the people of these storms. Flick a switch and we have lights! Start your car and drive to work, feed the kids, to the ball game we go. Things have changed here! It sure makes you appreciate what you had, when it's gone. It will be hard, but we can do it again. Rebuild our communities, which support the industries we all rely on in this country. We work here! Our lives and families are here, and we service the the country with agricultural, and energy, for YOU! Thank you for what you are doing to help us! I have not asked FEMA for one dime, but there are many who need it! Thank you! These Hurricanes have been devastating to a huge area, and it truly is an untold story! I believe that the Great people of this Country, truly care for their neighbor, and if people where told how devastating it truly is, more would help! We may never know how many lives have been lost. Live Everyday to it's fullest! Many thanks to ALL for Helping in the recovery, and Thank You, STU!
Posted by WOW | September 20, 2008
To ALL, thanks for your prayers, and more are needed. We have a major crisis from these storms. I cannot comment on your individual situations, only to say thank you for your concern, or you would not be here on this site. Having survived Hurricanes Andrew, Lili, Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike, I can appreciate all, each person does, to help each other. Having help evacuate hospitals, unload helicopters with critically ill patiences, (being evacuated from other hospitals), board up and prepare, I can sympathize with all that have lived through these storms. Hurricanes Ike and Gustav have had very little coverage, probably because of a Presidential campaign, and financial crisis on Wall street. Unfortunately, the financial crisis here on the coast, or any where else these storms past, have created devastation of a different kind. Citys and towns have been wiped off the map, as if they did not exist, but they did. Many people are without a job, or home. Industries have been cripped, Farming, cattle, oil rigs lost, offshore platforms gone, timber destroyed, Shrimp boats, crew boats, cars, building, homes, stores, and lives have been lost. I have been blessed, having survived all of these storms. We have had losses, and we have helped others as well. Do what you can to always help others! As they say on the Weather Channel, "This could happen to you"! This is the Greatest Country on Earth! Forget the media! Help each other! GOD BLESS AMERICA! Need a Job? There's work to be done
Posted by Blessed | September 19, 2008
As we approach one full week since Ike hit, my 76-year-old mother still is without electricity in her home in Ohio. Yet when I pray for her every night, I also lift up prayers for the people of Louisiana, Texas, and other areas affected. May the Lord be with you.
Posted by OHMarcus | September 19, 2008
Thank you Stu for your words of truth and wisdom. No matter what the disaster, we should never shirk our responsibility as a human being and help others who need it. What else are we are on earth for?
Posted by Karen | September 19, 2008
I thank you for the wonderful blog on Ike, and I also thank everyone who has extended their blessings to everyone affected. I was born and raised in between Houston and Galveston. I moved out-of-state 3 weeks before Ike, and the rest of my family is still in the area. Some of my family chose to evacuate, while others chose to ride it out. I understand not wanting to leave, as that is your home, and I, myself, spent 26.5 hours in my car evacuating from Rita. The focus should not be on whether or not people chose to leave right now, but instead focusing on how to rebuild and get the affected areas up and going again. It sickens me to see the comments of "anonymous" persons saying that there shouldn't be any attention given. No one is asking for charity, not to open your wallets. And considering how much of the bulk of the US was affected by this storm, it should be a headline. Why? This is your country, whether you live in that area or not. You decide where you live and whether or not you listen to what is going on, but to imply that people got what was coming to them by living in a specific area or saying that people just want your money is beyond ignorant. People who live no where near the coast were affected and I think that if it was shown more, it might encourage people to get into the meteorological field and potentially make sense of Ike's size mystery. Thank you again, and good luck and God bless to ALL of those in so many states that were affected in some way by Ike.
Posted by Ashley | September 19, 2008
That's an excellent article. However, I am distressed by the possibility of a much larger death toll than the 56 or so which is being quoted in the media. The storm surge (like a 10-15 ft wind-induced tsunami), together with the extensive area of hurricane force winds obliterated entire neighborhoods for miles upon miles of Texas coastline. Thousands of homes have disappeared. Many thousands of people did not evacuate, and forecasters warned that people in the most vulnerable areas could face "certain death" if they stayed. Well, many thousands of people did stay, and there are now many missing persons. The list of missing is growing by the minute; one "missing persons locator" was put up on Wednesday http://ktrk.typepad.com/abc13/locator/index.html and to date some 500 people have already used it to inquire about missing loved ones. This is probably the tip of the iceberg, as regards missing persons. Where are these people, and how long will it take to find them? Will we ever know the true death toll from Hurricane Ike?
Posted by NIk Green | September 19, 2008
Stu, Great story. I am a big fan of yours and the weather channel as a whole. I think Ike is another great case for the need for a new ranking for Hurricanes. I have a crude idea, but I think some work with professional meteorologists and historical data could make this ranking system very effective. Basically the new ranking system would be a continous scale based on the following components: 1 Central pressure 2 Maximum sustained wind speed 3a Hurricane Windfield Factor (based on area of hurricane winds extending from the center) 3b Tropical storm Windfield Factor Here is an example to illustrate: Hurrican STU is Cat 3 on the SS scale Central Pressure 916 mb and Maximum wind speed is 130 mph New ranking scale developed (maybe) by a major weather network ranks Hurricane STU as follows: 1 Cent. Press of 917 mb is 5.1 on pressure scale (870 mb would be 6.0 and so on) 2 Wind speed of 130 is 3.9 on new wind scale 3a Hurricane wind field for STU is 150 miles, which is one of the largest ever and is a 5.0 on the wind factor 3b Tropical force wind field is also large for STU and is 300 miles and is also 5.0 for TS wind factor Then new ranking is 1/3 of each part: 1/3 * 5.1 1/3*3.9 1/3* (5/2 5/2)= 4.67 Hurricane STU is a 4.67 on the new scale instead of a 3 on the SS scale. With the above windfield and CP, One would expect the damage from STU to be one of the strongest historically-much more like a strong 4 or 5 storm-not a Cat 3. Thanks, Brian
Posted by Brian | September 19, 2008
It is a little annoying to see how little media coverage we're getting nationally. Ike was a devestating storm all along its path and has totally destroyed entire communities. Crystal Beach, Ghilcrest, Winnie and Orange were pretty much wiped from the face of the Earth. I live in Seabrook, Tx., and it looks like a bomb went off doen there. I evacuated because I didn't want to be slapped in the face by the storm surge as it came into my home. Many of the people who did NOT evac,a nd were in the mandatory zones, didn't do so because of the mess that was caused during Rita. Maybe now they'll listen next time. I don't want FEMA here, and I don't think the Government should be helping us nor should every American have to help us. I believe that its up to state and local officials and the affected community to roll up their sleeves, stop whining and felling sorry for themselves and HELP EACH OTHER. On that note though, I just want to say a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to all of the power companys that have come in and helped us get power back more quickly. Its a beaurecratic NIGHTMARE and many of these out of state workers are being forced to sit and watch as local companies fight them over jobs sp that they can get paid, but they did come to help and should be thanked. Word from Galveston officials is that the Island will NOT be inhabitable before the end of the year.
Posted by Channing | September 19, 2008
Fine reports
Posted by Mac Moseman | September 19, 2008
Thank you for this blog. America read below "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. First off it is easy not to care when these events do not effect your way of life as long as you have your internet your food,water,electricty,gas,job the things that sustain your way of life. We have disasters all over this country from Califorina fires and earthquakes to the mid west Tornados to the Gulf coast Hurricanes which effect hundreds of miles inland.So where would you have us all move to. I am a Captain and I work in the Gulf of Mexico in the oil field I was in Morgan City La. when Gustav made land fall and rode out the storm there.When I got off the boat I saw the destruction in that town as well as Houma La. where our transpertation center is . I then went home where I live in Porter Texas in Montgomery County. Where I rode out Ike in my home there. That was 12 hours of hell. I am fourtunate to have a home where others don't. When you see your friends and Neighbours pull their resources together to take care of each other it touches your soul deeply and that my friend is what America was founded on
Posted by Swampman | September 19, 2008
this is for those that say we choose to live in a hurricane area and so why should you pay for us to rebuild? Well first of all yes I choose to live here but I don't need a handout from You or from FEMA or from the governmet. I don't need your tax dollars to help me rebuild either, I can manage fine thanks.. BUT.. i'm not sure where you all live but the next time an earthquake or a tornado or a Wildfire rages across the countryside and burns your house down I don't feel my tax dollars should pay for the Firemen to be out there battling the blaze, I mean afterall You choose to live in a Fire zone, Tornado Alley, or on a fault line.. I did evacuate but NO we weren't given alot of time here in Orange County Texas.. We were told Approx 36 hours before lanfal to evacuate( before that we were told the storm was going someplace else) But still 36 hrs is NOT alot of time to move 2 million people on roads that were built without any future population increase in mind..
Posted by kenneth | September 19, 2008
While I agree that it is horribly tragic that thousands of families have lost their homes, I fail to see why it is the rest of the country's job to fix their issues. Why must we continue to still support Katrina victims to this day? Why are the rest of us expected to just open our wallets or cut a check for this destruction? These people chose where they lived. They knew the dangers going into it. They should have had the forethought to buy insurance. I know it is not the cheapest thing, but if I lived in a flood plain, or a coastal region, I would definitely make sure that I was covered in the event of one of these disasters. And yes, I know some things are irreplaceable. But it is a give and take situation. If you want to live somewhere you have to understand, DISASTERS HAPPEN! They always have and they always will. It doesn’t matter where you live. Don't depend on your government, neighbors, or people thousands of miles away to take care of you. Take care of yourself.
Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008
hurricane was pretty bad i am from florida and i have been in bad hurricanes to. hope you guys get better. and thoose who didn't leave and still alive your pretty lucky!
Posted by faith | September 18, 2008
I think that it's natural to feel a little neglected when the media ignores the situation that we are going through down here. I live in Beaumont. TX and this is the 2nd time in 3 years we've been devastated by hurricanes. (Rita) We just evacuated 2 weeks ago for hurricane Gustav. The financial toll that these evacuations take on us are overwhelming. People are so broke from dealing with Rita and Gustav that they just couldn't evacuate this time. Therefor the suffering has been twice as bad because we have no utilities. No clean water, ice, food is hard to find. The lines just to get food or gas are unbearable. It's slowly getting better though. We'll make it, just like we did after Rita. With or without media attention.
Posted by Southern Boy | September 18, 2008
Stu, I had noticed the same thing as you did. Ike is getting very little coverage. It is as if there is no aftermath. People on a large scale are left without water, food, power, even their homes. But it is not "big news" anymore. When the media can make a storm "sensational", they give it lots of coverage. When it is over, they go on to something else. For many, there is nothing to come back to.
Posted by Joanne | September 18, 2008
What more attention does it need. I guess i dont understand. It is what it is.People were givin plenty of warning, thanx to the media, is the way i would look at it. Its a vulnerable area for disaster.Nobody is forced to live there or, go back and, or stay for the disaster for that matter.For the people that stayed and were rescued i think it was pretty selfish of them to put the ones saving them in danger. All the victims though my heart does go out too.
Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008
Even a category 1 hurricane can be quite severe. I remember hurricane Agnes in 1972, a Cat 1. It did tremendous damage along the East Coast. There are even some tropical storms that have wreaked havoc. Moral: whenever the NWS says a storm is approaching, heed the warning.
Posted by Walter Ring | September 18, 2008
What's the old saw? If a dog bites a man, its not fit to print, but if a man bites a dog, that's news. I wonder if the attitude of the press and the national mind has shifted such that Ike's devastation is now considered a "dog bites man" story. Chunk of coastline wiped out, people dead, people homeless, towns destroyed, large area's uninhabitable for the forseable future - happens every year.
Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008
It is devasting to anyone who lives in the Gulf Coast or along the east coast of our country when storms of this magnitude cause so much damage and interrupt the lives of so many people.For so many of us who are not affected by the storms it is still difficult to watch and wait out when you have family in that area and are concerned about their well being. For those who evacuated you have chosen to keep your families safe and alive, away from an area that will need time to clean up and rebuild again. It is much eaiser and faster for those who need to assist all those affected if they can do so without having to worry about further injury to people who stay even if they are at risk. Will be thinking of all the people affected by the storms and keeping them in our prayers.
Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008
I'm not sure what "Proud to Live in SWLA" 's point was, but they need to read the suggestion from Ray B. about a news channel dedicated to disaster news, public service announcements and relief effort information - it's a great idea! I worked with victims from Hurricane Katrina and never forgot the stories of each experience, so I watched this story very closely. It makes a big difference when people can see for themselves, even in pictures, the true extent of people's suffering as well as their efforts to overcome it. Media coverage made THE difference in relief efforts after Katrina, but once Ike passed by Houston it passed from the news as well. No one that I know would be dumb enough to think less of those who need a helping hand after being knocked flat by this natural disaster. Why does "Proud to Live in SWLA" assume they are the only person picking themselves up to do what needs to be done and not whining about it? Just because you want to pat yourself on the back in a public forum doesn't mean you have to put down anyone who has a genuine interest in learning the full extent of the story, or wants their story to be told. Sneering self-congratulation has no place at any time, but especially now.
Posted by Caring in Chicago | September 18, 2008
I do apologize to the good people of Louisiana that I picked on in my comments yesterday. I realize that the media sensationalizes what they want us to know. It's just when you see such devastation and so many people suffering you just want a little compassion from others. It is amazing to see our community getting put back together so quickly and if any of you out there know anyone on the electric crews and timber clearing crews that have come from other areas to help us out, please tell them how very grateful we are to them and their families for disrupting their own lives to help others. Thank you just doesn't seem enough. It is an AMAZING effort from all over the country. We have seen crews from New Jersey, Ohio, North Carolina, San Antonio, just to mention a few. God Bless All of You! And, once again, I sincerely apologize for my comments about Louisiana. I know you are victims too. Thanks Stu for opening this "sounding board" The humbled Texan
Posted by CB | September 18, 2008
thank you stu for pointing out how little attention this disaster has gotten. its appaling to me that even as the hurricane was making landfall, news agencies were interrupting coverage for the latest on the presidential race while entire towns were being destroyed. it is also amazing to me that ohio, my home state, has gotten almost no attention whatsoever. damage here is the worst we've seen in decades; cars crushed by trees, houses with siding and shingles ripped off, streets closed for nearly a week, not to mention that thousands of people are not supposed to get power until saturday. there were also injuries, a 14 year old boy down the street from me was nearly killed by a falling tree. if a disaster like this fails to create media interest, id hate to see what would.
Posted by Brian | September 18, 2008
Thank you, Stu. I always enjoy reading what you say, because you illustrate so well for us the reality of these storms and their damage. I have been disturbed at how blase people have been about Ike. My daughter, who lives in an area of Houston not terribly devastated, still had to drive 30 miles to find milk for her small children. And, she is fortunate to have the resources to do that. Others - thousands of others - have lost all and may lack resources to rebuild.
Posted by mamacat81 | September 18, 2008
I, too, would like to express my sympathy to all those who have suffered losses. As for the "punishment" idea, I don't go for punishment but prefer education. I realize the public has a poor to limited understanding of climate change, aka global warming, but if you go to mainstream scientific sites like NASA's Goddard Institute for Space studies or NOAA's, and read, again, mainstream science, you will see that scientists have predicted larger more intense storms because of warmer global temperatures and warmer ocean waters that fuel hurricanes. The National Climatic Data Center has seen such a trend. The gases that result from burning fossil fuels trap heat in the atmosphere and last for hundreds of years. (basic high school chemistry) We need to use alternative energy so that we reduce the amount of heat trapping gases we emit, and include solar energy which could provide distributed power that would be less vulnerable to interruption in storms. The coverage of the role of climate change is an even more egregious oversite of the media. Speedy recovery to all...
Posted by Anonymous | September 18, 2008
Stu, this is genius. Thanks for putting into words what the storm has done to so many of us. It is a tremendous tragedy and I haven't been able to articulate the way this storm has treated so many in Texas, LA, and many other states to people that asked about what we went through. The thing is, if you think we all got it bad, consider the pictures and reports from Haiti and Cuba. They took the full hit form this monster storm and a nightmare would be to think about what would have happened if this storm had not been clipped by those islands. Your blog is among the best I've read on the web. Good work dude.
Posted by Davek | September 18, 2008
Is the aftermath of IKE less newsworthy because FEMA finally got its act together - few screwups to report? Or possibly because it's become less unusual for victims of weather disaster to live without power, water, etc for lengthy periods of time? Or is it because the media perceives that people are less willing to donate due to shaky economy? Whatever the reason, the media has always chosen to highlight the disaster areas that are most dramatic. Case in point: Florida during Wilma ... Katrina was so newsworthy that Wilma victims rarely got mentioned even though the power was out for weeks, FEMA didn't have enough ice or water or volunteers left to help much, and there was much damage that wasn't covered by insurance. The biggest voids I see in the current news coverage are the lack of reporting on how people outside the area can help and access to video feeds that evacuees can use better determine how bad their neighborhoods are hit.
Posted by Valerie | September 17, 2008
I would like to correct CB. I understand the devastation that the Texans are going thru. Most of South Louisiana not only suffered the rath of Gustav. We also felt the effect of Ike, some areas more than others. There are still some in Louisiana that are still without electricity from Gustav. We too, cannot flush our toilets, have no gas, etc. I understand how frustrating the aftermath of hurricanes can be. But, please don't attack the citizens of Louisiana. I was without electricity for 9 days. Power was restored and then I lost the power again 1 and 1/2 days later for another 3 days. My neighbor, brother and a dear friends lost their homes. I also had a relative die during 2 days after Gustav.
Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2008
I don't understand why the media should give so much coverage to certain areas and completely ignore others...It was really disgusting when this one newsperson made this horribly sarcastic report on Ike;the newswoman compltely downplayed the damage on Bolivar, sneered at a crying woman who was lamenting the loss of her friend, and with a smile relayed the news of dead horses and cats floating in the water. Really, it couldn't kill the media to report that (heard this from a friend of the family who lives their) the Woodlands, a rich suburb of Houston, is without power for two weeks, and why hasn't anybody mentioned help for the Galveston branch of A and M? I find it saddening that the media doesn't also give us nyumbers or contacts we can use to donate clothes, time, anything to the people hit. Also, Gustav got negligable coverage..so is the catagory all that matters to the media?
Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2008
A couple thoughts.... first, my heart (and cash) pours out to the victims of the spate of storms over the last few years, including (but not limited to) Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Ike, Hanna, Faye and Gustav. I live inland enough that we are simply praying for rain and getting little to none. I cannot imagine the depth of the despair running through these communities from Florida to Texas (and all points in between), whether they are on the coast or miles inland. Seeing just a few pictures of the devastation is cause for pause, prayer, and generous donation. As Stu noted in the blog, it looks similar to a Cat 5 tornado (like Jarrell, TX for example) devastation, entire towns, neighborhoods wiped. Has anyone ever thought of building a seawall the length of the coast, only, say, a half mile inland? Another thought....we have TV channels for EVERYTHING. Why not have one for disaster aftermath information/photos/public service announcements like where to donate. Some may call it tasteless, but many are craving information other networks don't think is worthy of broadcast time. Stu,thanks for a fantastic article,with links to keep me busy for days. As always, you are the quintessential professional, and I always enjoy your work. Keep on bloggin'!! People of America...give generously, the next disaster could be yours!
Posted by Ray B fr Dallas | September 17, 2008
I just saw your on-air talent pointing out the horror of Ike's damage. The side by side of the Bolivar Penninsula is off by two bocks, blocks which are gone!! Don't line up the water - line up the streets/houses that are left. You will really see the true horror of it then. Sadly, I predict bodies will be found in Trinity Bay for another two weeks. Bolivar took the worst, the right eye wall, keeping the surge in the Bay and on the Island below the worst prediction. They would have come true if the 'pump' was up the ship channel instead of over the Penninsula. A few miles tpo the left and Houston would have another 10-15 feet.
Posted by Michael Cowan | September 17, 2008
I am a recent transplant to Texas and live in Ike's warpath. Although I am too busy to keep trying to get through on the phone to more than closest family and friends, I have been shocked at the lack of concern from the home I left behind on the other side of the country. I finally got a cell connection and asked my friend why no one seemed to care. Her response was "Oh, I had no idea anything major happened. So, it knocked out your electricity?" I only wish that was all it did. I got online to search and see what was being published only to find one short article listing the death toll and a couple pictures for each news media venue. American media disgusts me. I believe the American people would care and offer help if they understood what really happened. It hurts my heart to have been "forgotten" here in Texas - as if human life here just doesn't matter as much as Senator Clinton not showing up for a public rally as silent protest. What is wrong with the media? They have no heart and no morals.
Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2008
I have a whole new respect for hurricanes. I'm from Ohio-- and the remnants of Ike hit in the form of a wind storm. The damage here is like a tornado-- but much more wide-scale. If it was this bad here, I cannot even fathom the misery of those in TExas and Louisiana. I am so sorry for all of you. I will be praying for you.
Posted by Kate | September 17, 2008
I am from Galveston and attend school elsewhere. It is incredibly frustrating for my family staying with me to have to rely on the Internet for news when they lost their computer to Ike. Has anyone even thought of mentioning Texas A&M University Galveston or the UTMB med school, physician's assistant school, nursing school, physical therapy school, etc...? After Katrina we heard about all of the students being relocated to other schools and offers of help were endless but these students have heard nothing and received nothing. Please show them compassion. They, as students, do not have money to replace anything they lost.
Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2008
This hurricane hit lots of people. We all know this now. Yes, Ohio (my hometown,) we know you got hit and have a million out of power and it's been three days. I'm in Houston and we still have 2M people out of power - that's ONLY Houston. If it hit you so hard in Ohio, etc, just imagine what it must have been like here. Life can be hard. My power went out at 2:30 AM Saturday and came back on 7:10 PM Tuesday. Water was out until Monday night. We're all in the same boat, except that here, entire towns were leveled. There are places that very literally do no exist anymore. Places where if you owned a beach-home that was 3 rows back, you now have beachfront property with an unobstructed view (from your shattered concrete slab.)
Posted by Justin | September 17, 2008
To comments by CB, please know that not all of Louisiana are looking for a free ride. Many of us have had damages over and over and used our hard earned money to start over and also donate time and money to other parts of the countries disasters. There are good people everywhere, the media just tends to show the negatives for hype and ratings.
Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2008
God will takecare
Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2008
Hurricane Ike is a punishment from God because Texans aren't supporting John McCain enough! VOTE MCCAIN!
Posted by Nessa | September 17, 2008
To the person that said "open our wallets", consider the fact that these people haven't opened their wallets to us as their beach properties soared in value and cost us more tax money to augment the insurance industry. Just like the Nolatards who made bad life choices, I say they can just DEAL WITH IT.
Posted by Your Favorite Uncle | September 17, 2008
Posted by PROUD TO LIVE IN SWLA | September 17, 2008
They do not mention the 500 workers from around the country that are in Texas, Louisiana, and all surrounding states that are working around the clock to fix the damage. Most of them have been gone since Gustav and may not be home until after Christmas.
Posted by Blair | September 17, 2008
I am in Ohio and we have had no power for 3 days. Most people who lost power are still without it! Schools are closed, traffic lights are not working... Our gutters were ripped off and there are trees fallen everywhere. I cannot believe that we are not hearing more about this disaster. For us to experience this kind of aftermath from a hurricane that hit TX is unheard of, and it makes us wonder just how horrific the consequences are for people who got on Ike's way before it got to us... It's just terrifying.
Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2008
I really appreciate Stu Ostro's insightful analysis of the aftermath of hurricane Ike. I agree that the media has covered this very poorly. Thanks to TWC for publishing his blog. I own property along the Alabama coast and we experienced perhaps 4 feet of high water the day before Ike hit Texas. During Katrina, we had about 14 feet of storm surge which destroyed my house and a bridge to the house. The town of Bayou la Batre was devastated, and this was not really reported in the media. The same is now occurring regarding smaller communities on the eastern Texas coast and the south Louisiana coast. Worse yet, areas that are unincorporated, where many people may live, are not eligible for certain types of grants, and suffer even more in the months and years following a storm like Ike or Katrina. An example is the area known as Portersville, east of Bayou la Batre, which has not really recovered from the damage of Katrina. I assume the same will occur for many areas of Texas and Louisiana. Finally, I think we can expect more storms of this size and destructive power to hit the gulf coast in the future. Some areas may need to be abandoned as far as residential use, and research needs to be done on how to make buildings and coastal communities more able to survive such storms. For now, though, I'm just feeling sadness and sympathy for all those folks hurt by Ike.
Posted by Drew Henderson | September 17, 2008
I'm surprised no pictures have been posted of the devastation of the Mississippi coastline and southeast Louisiana from Katrina. In Ike, the quote I've seen is about "entire subdivisions" being wiped out; in Katrina, it was entire towns. Waveland MS in particular was practically gone after Katrina. Several of the small Mississippi River towns in Louisiana (Buras, Pilottown) suffered similar fates. Pass Christian, Bay St. Louis, and Long Beach MS were scoured completely flat for at least two blocks inland, as much as a mile inland in many areas. I have pictures from the area, but others might have better ones. Anyone?
Posted by Jack | September 17, 2008
The aftermath of Ike should not be down-played. As pointed out by Mr. Ostro, small towns were 'wiped off the map'. It doesn't matter if they aren't major cities. These people lost everything. We as a nation should be just as concerned for them as for other past hurricane victims. Any donations, whether food, water, money, should be provided for Ike's victims. The major media organizations should continue coverage. As stated in the article, communities hundreds of miles from Ike's landfall suffered untold damage, too. We need to realize that 'but for the grace of G-d, there go I.
Posted by Liz | September 17, 2008
I loved the article by Stu Ostro because he told it like it is! Where is all the media coverage of the aftermath of Ike? We live in a rural community in the piney woods of East Texas. Ike left its trail of devastion here and so many are without power, water, and gas! We are SICK of hearing about KATRINA victims. Our area incurred damage and massive problems from Huriicane Rita, did the mdeia care? NO. Now, following yet another Louisiana hit,Gustav, where is the coverage of the aftermath of Ike. We probably don't hear anything because we are not whiners. We are TEXANS and we work together to get things done, with or without government assistance. We understand that northern states were hit and are now without power because so many of their electric crews were sent south to help Texas. While we are grateful, I am so sorry that they are having to feel this aftermath too. Stu brought tears to my eyes because he understood the frustration we feel that the media doesn't care about us. America deserves to know that there are many more victims to these hurricanes than those who live in Louisiana. What about Florida, Mississippi, Alabama? To all you media that dare to say, that Ike "could have been worse", if you ever find yourself in a situation without the finer things in life such as the priviledge of flushing your commode, just hope you are in Louisiana where the &#@ flows freely. Worn out in Texas.
Posted by CB | September 17, 2008
From a person who lives in NJ just outside Phila. The pictures and destruction of this and other storms are just that..... Pictures!!!We can not even imagine what it is like to evacuate only to come home to nothing but a slab where your house once was!! I feel for these people and only hope and pray they have the strength and money to rebuild their lives!!!! To all the weathermen that get caught up in the story...get down there and help these people!!! If I could I would!!!
Posted by Duane | September 17, 2008
This is heartbreaking. May we in America open our wallets, give of our time, and stand with our fellow citizens in their hour of need. We can sort out who should have done what later and it will need to be sorted out.
Posted by Joy Wharton | September 17, 2008
Why isn't anyone really talking about what happen in the northern states like Indiana and ohio that got hit my the wind from Ike and how someone ppl still dont have power and its been like 3 days. Yes texas got hit hard but you can't forget about all the other states that got hit too.
Posted by Stephanie | September 17, 2008
Hey Stu, the new Gulf of Mexico starts 6 miles North of Hackberry LA. The mosquitoes are almost as big as cats, the fire ants are nasty as ever. The flood waters are everywhere. The stench of mildew is awful. Your guy Cantore has no idea of what cleanup is and how difficult it is. Death toll Ike(47) Gustav (46). Be glad you live in the Atl and be thankful of what yall have***** Uninhabitable is the word from hurricane zones in 08!!
Posted by PCM | September 17, 2008
I read where alligators are eating all the dead cows. How cool is that?
Posted by Shirley | September 17, 2008
for a little perspective, please also add your original path predictions for these storms also. hmmm...
Posted by Doit Youwont | September 17, 2008

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