Just finished moving all of our outside stuff into the garage. There really ought to be a law against 95 degree weather in the days preceding a hurricane.
I'm a "non-essential personnel" person at work, so I'm officially off till at least Monday. Good thing, 'cause I wasn't going to be there anyway.
I've had two offers from readers of this blog - one of whom I've met once, the other never - to house me and my family during the hurricane. I can't tell you how touched I am by their generosity.
Now for the bad news: Rita is a category five storm.
DATA FROM RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT INDICATE THAT RITA HAS REACHED
CATEGORY FIVE INTENSITY WITH ESTIMATED MAXIMUM SUSTAINED SURFACE
WINDS OF 165 MPH. THIS WILL BE REFLECTED IN THE 4 PM CDT ADVISORY.
Here's the good news:
- - - - WIND SPEED PROBABILITIES FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS - - - -
FROM FROM FROM FROM FROM FROM FROM
TIME 06Z WED 18Z WED 06Z THU 18Z THU 06Z FRI 06Z SAT 06Z SUN
PERIODS TO TO TO TO TO TO TO
18Z WED 06Z THU 18Z THU 06Z FRI 06Z SAT 06Z SUN 06Z MON
FORECAST HOUR (12) (24) (36) (48) (72) (96) (120)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
HOUSTON TX 34 X X( X) 1( 1) 9(10) 33(43) 16(59) 2(61)
HOUSTON TX 50 X X( X) X( X) 2( 2) 17(19) 9(28) 2(30)
HOUSTON TX 64 X X( X) X( X) X( X) 9( 9) 5(14) 1(15)
Houston has given the mandatory evacuation order for people in storm surge zones.
Mayor Bill White and County Judge Robert Eckels said at a morning briefing that some mandatory evacuations would begin at 6 p.m. today. They encouraged residents to leave voluntarily if possible before the evacuations become mandatory.
After some initial confusion over what areas would be affected by the order, officials provided this schedule, based on storm surge zones, for mandatory evacuations as of noon today. :
* 6 p.m. today: Storm surge zone A, which includes low-lying areas along the coast and the southern part of Galveston Bay.
* 2 a.m. Thursday: Storm surge zone B, which includes the Clear Lake area of Houston and other parts of southeast Harris and south Brazoria counties.
* 6 a.m. Thursday: Storm surge zone C, which includes the Ship Channel area of Houston as far west as the East Loop.
The evacuation so far is voluntary for those living in a 100-year flood plain or in areas that have flooded in past.
Hospital and nursing home patients were evacuated and as many as 1 million other people were ordered to clear out along the Gulf Coast today as Hurricane Rita intensified into a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds that could batter Texas and bring more misery to New Orleans by week's end.
Galveston, vulnerable sections of Houston and a mostly emptied-out New Orleans were under mandatory evacuation orders, one day after Rita sideswiped the Florida Keys as a Category 2 storm and caused minor damage.
Having seen what 145-mph Hurricane Katrina did three weeks ago, many people were taking no chances.
"After this killer in New Orleans, Katrina, I just cannot fathom staying," 59-year-old Ldyyan Jean Jocque said before sunrise as she waited for an evacuation bus outside the Galveston Community Center. She had packed her Bible, some music and clothes into plastic bags and loaded her dog into a pet carrier.
Christina Ybarrashe, 61, boarded up the family home in Galveston with plywood and planned to drive inland. "We just want to go way out there, to be sure we are far enough away," she said.
Who's staying and who's not? If you're staying, the Chron wants to hear from you.
Do you have a blog, live in the Houston-Galveston area and plan to ride the storm out?
If so, we'd like your help with an experiment in citizen journalism.
We're launching a blog this afternoon called Stormwatchers. We'd like volunteers in key parts of the area with experience blogging to tell us what they're seeing as the Hurricane Rita comes closer, makes landfall and moves on.
We're particularly interested in bloggers who live in the I-45 South corridor; in the Freeport/Angleton area; and the southwest area, including Katy.
If you're interested, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Stormwatchers." Include a link to your blog, detailed information about your location and a landline or cell phone number where you can be reached. If you go by a pseudonym in your blog, we'll need your real name.
Also include a 3-4 paragraph blog entry detailing what you're doing to prepare.
We'll pick our stormwatchers based on geographic location, quality of your blog and writing ability.
Other links of interest are here.
Eileen is in Austin, but bringing a little Ghostbusters into the discussion made me smile, and I needed that.
Listen to Tom, everybody:
As all grizzled veterans of Hurricane Alicia in 1983 know (related Chronicle story is here), this is a serious situation for the Texas Gulf coast and it is time to prepare to batten down the hatches. If you are a relative newcomer to this area and have never been through an intense hurricane before, do not fall into the trap of thinking that the media and others are crying "wolf." This is a deadly serious storm that has the potential to be every bit as devastating to the Texas Gulf coast as Katrina was to the Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama Gulf coast. As destructive as Alicia was in 1983 (it's eye came in on Galveston's West Beach and tore through the middle of Houston on a track that essentially followed I-45), it was a minimal category 3 storm. In comparison, Rita is shaping up to be a much more powerful storm that is comparable to Hurricane Carla, which was a category 4 (winds of 133-155 mph) storm that caused incredible damage to Houston and the upper Texas Gulf coast on September 11, 1961. Carla had the same minimum barometric pressure as the great 1900 storm that killed over 6,000 people in Galveston.
I hope I have gotten your attention.
Jay Lee has some practical advice for you whether you stay or leave.
I took the digital camera and shot pictures of the house (both inside and out) for insurance purposes. I burned these images to a few CD's. One CD to keep with me and another is going into my safety deposit box.
I also copied off my important digital documents and images to a portable hard drive that I will be keeping with me.
I will be taking my desktops and laptops and wrapping them in plastic trash bags and putting them up on a shelf in the hopes of protecting them from water damage. I have removed the hard drives and wrapped them separately.
Last, but not least: At some point this evening, and I don't care when it is, I will watch the season premier of Lost. I mean, I don't know when my next chance to do it will be, so tonight's the night.Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 21, 2005 to Hurricane Katrina | TrackBack