August 05, 2008
Nothing to do but wait

Just a few hours out now.

Tropical Storm Edouard, whose sudden emergence from the Gulf of Mexico forced coastal residents and state officials to spend much of Monday making last-minute preparations, was expected to make landfall along the upper Texas coast around noon today, by which time it should be a strong tropical storm.

Businesses, schools and government offices across Southeast Texas were closed, and people were urged to stay off the roads because of high winds and rising water. Although significant damage was not expected, power outages are a possibility and localized flooding is a potential problem, especially in areas experiencing the wetter side of the storm -- or if the storm slows as it passes through the area.

Residents also tended to their pre-storm chores, loading up on goods from tuna to batteries to water. Motorists also wisely topped off their gas tanks, but in doing so, left some stations dry. While drivers reported sporadic fuel outages at gas stations around the Houston and Galveston area, officials said there was no shortage of fuel.

Forecasters say Edouard is likely to hit the upper Texas Coast. This morning, the National Weather Service lifted the tropical storm watch to places south of Sargent, effectively giving an all-clear sign to Matagorda and Calhoun counties.

I just finished walking the dog, figuring I'd better do that sort of thing now while he's still willing to go outside; once the thunder and lightning starts, he won't budge from whatever safe place he'll have wedged himself into. At 5:30 AM, you wouldn't know there was a major storm out there - it's calm and cool-for-August, with clear skies. Enjoy it while it lasts - they're already feeling it in Beaumont.

It occurs to me that while I've lived in Houston 20 years and I've seen many a nasty storm, I've not been in Houston for a named storm in a long time. We bugged out for Hurricane Rita, enjoying a lovely 18-hour drive to Dallas along the way. We happened to be in Chicago the weekend Tropical Storm Allison hit in 2001 - I didn't even realize what was happening until our friend Andrea called to tell us our house was okay. Tiffany and her family lived through Hurricane Alicia in 1983; being without power for a week was no fun. I was a newly-arrived graduate student, living in a garage apartment, when a Cat 5 Hurricane Gilbert took dead aim at Houston. As I was completely unprepared for anything remotely like that, it was just as well that it wound up mostly missing here; my buddies in San Antonio had it much worse. I sort of don't know what to expect.

I hope everyone stays safe, I hope there's no major damage in the affected areas, I hope we don't lose power, and I hope some much-needed rain falls in drought areas. Connectivity permitting, I'll post updates later.

UPDATE: 8 AM. Everyone is awake. Looks like some light rain has fallen. Now to keep the girls occupied for the next 24 hours...

UPDATE: Here's SciGuy's morning report. More rain, maybe less wind. I can live with that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 05, 2008 to Hurricane Katrina
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