September 20, 2005
The Galveston evacuation

The voluntary evacuation of Galveston, which was announced yesterday, is in full swing.

Galveston may no longer be the most likely target for Hurricane Rita, but the island remains well within the danger zone and the city has begun a voluntary evacuation, with a mandatory evacuation likely on Wednesday. Brazoria County is doing the same.

Galveston officials said today they anticipate calling the city's first mandatory evacuation ever at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Evacuation buses are to begin rolling out of town Wednesday morning with hundreds or even thousands of people on board as shelters open to Galveston evacuees in Huntsville.

"You may and should begin to leave the island now," Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said shortly after 11 a.m.

Brazoria County, just south of Galveston County, called for a voluntary evacuation at 2 p.m. today and will consider the latest forecasts before deciding on a mandatory evacuation for some areas on Wednesday.

To give families time to evacuate before the storm hits Texas Friday night, the Galveston Independent School District has called off classes for the rest of the week, as have the Clear Creek, Pasadena, Deer Park, Hitchcock, Anahuac, Alvin, Brazosport, Brazoria, Angleton, Columbia-Brazoria and Sweeny districts.

Authorities said those living near the coast or in low-lying areas are better off evacuating now than later. Those who leave right away can take any route they choose, but once mandatory evacuation begins, some routes will be restricted.

Rita is already a Category 2 hurricane. It's also moving pretty rapidly westward, which may work in Houston's favor, as long as the high-pressure system we currently have holds together.

SciGuy keeps posting good stuff. Read this, this, and this. The Chron also now has a Hurricane Rita blog.

Banjo reports from his neighborhood. Tom notes that the oil and gas markets are going crazy again. No surprise there.

Governor Perry has declared Texas a disaster area and has requested federal aid for the counties that will be affected.

I just got an email from our day care provider saying that if Rita maintains its path and speed, they'll likely be closed on Friday. All I can say is that if that's the case, we wouldn't be needing them on Friday anyway because we'd be on our way out of here. I guess we'll know more tomorrow.

UPDATE: Here's an update from StormTrack. According to KHOU, tropical storm force winds could reach the island by 10 a.m. Friday. Norbizness remembers living through Hurricane Alicia in 1983.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 20, 2005 to Hurricane Katrina | TrackBack

As an old fart that was in Victoria for the direct hit of Hurricane Carla in 1961 at age 4 (if you're into figuring out ages, YOU do the math), if it's a category 4, batton down the hatches folks. That sucker is serious.

Posted by: David R. Block on September 20, 2005 10:12 PM