Thread: Rita

  1. #26
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    Feb. 20, 2005, 1:09AM

    Models show 'massive devastation' in Houston
    Damages could cost up to $50 billion -- 10 times Allison's cost
    By ERIC BERGER
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    Houston's perfect storm would feed on late summer's warm waters as it barreled northward across the Gulf of Mexico, slamming into the coast near Freeport.

    A landfall here would allow its powerful upper-right quadrant, where the waves move in the same direction as the storm, to overflow Galveston Bay. Within an hour or two, a storm surge, topping out at 20 feet or more, would flood the homes of 600,000 people in Harris County. The surge also would block the natural drainage of flooded inland bayous and streams for a day or more.

    Coastal residents who ignored warnings to flee would have no hope of escape as waters swelled and winds roiled around their homes. Very likely, hundreds, perhaps even thousands, would die.

    Meanwhile, as the storm moved over western Harris County, its most dangerous winds, well in excess of 120 mph even inland, would lash the Interstate 45 corridor, including Clear Lake, the Texas Medical Center and downtown.

    Many older buildings could not withstand such winds.

    Anything not tied down, from trees to mobile homes to light poles, would become missiles, surreally tumbling and flying through the air, flattening small houses, shattering skyscraper windows and puncturing roofs.

    "Unfortunately, we're looking at massive devastation," said Roy Dodson, president of the engineering firm Dodson & Associates, which Harris County asked to model realistic "worst-case scenarios" for a major hurricane hitting the area.

    Dodson's firm modeled more than 100 storms of varying power, speed and landfall. It concluded that a large Category 4 or Category 5 -- a storm only moderately larger than the four that struck Florida last summer -- would cause as much as $40 billion to $50 billion in damage. That's 10 times the cost of Tropical Storm Allison and approximately the city of Houston's entire budget for the next 15 years.

    And this wasn't an academic exercise. Of the 17 Category 4 and Category 5 storms that have struck the United States since 1900, three, all Category 4 storms, have hit the Greater Houston area -- unnamed storms in 1900 and 1915 and Carla in 1961.



    Coastal development

    With considerable coastal development since then and lower elevations because of groundwater pumping, no one knows what will happen when a major storm hits. But what's clear is that models of a hurricane's three modes of destruction -- winds, storm surge and inland flooding from heavy rainfall -- offer little comfort.

    With sustained winds between 131 mph and 155 mph, the power of a Category 4 storm exceeds that of most building codes.

    Houston's commercial building rules call for structures to withstand three-second bursts of at least 110 mph, said Dennis Wittry, managing director of Houston Structural Operations at Walter P. Moore, an engineering firm.

    Newer skyscrapers, including many built during Houston's downtown boom in the '80s, were modeled in wind tunnels to determine their performance in extreme weather events. Most should survive the storm, Wittry said. And the downtown window loss like that experienced during Hurricane Alicia, a Category 3 storm that struck in 1983, actually could be less in a bigger storm.

    That's because roofs that were then anchored by gravel -- which become bullets in high winds -- are now held down by specialized concrete that should not blow off, Wittry said.

    Residential homes, built with less exacting standards and lesser materials, would fare worse.

    "You'll definitely see more significant damage in residential construction," he said. "Lower-end homes, or some homes in older areas, would probably be completely destroyed."

    Tie-downs, a structural device that prevents wind blowing over a structure, creating a vortex and sucking off the roof, have been mandatory only since the late 1980s, Wittry said.

    Various studies of a large storm hitting the Houston area have estimated that 100,000 to 125,000 homes would be destroyed.



    20-foot wall of water


    More devastation would be caused by winds blowing over the Gulf of Mexico and pushing surface water inland -- creating up to a 20-foot storm surge. Such a wall of water would swamp most development near Galveston Bay, including Texas City, Kemah and Johnson Space Center. Varying levels of water would flood much of the area between Sam Houston Parkway and the bay.

    On Galveston Island, the seawall could hold back much of the storm surge, but at some point the water would creep onto the island from the bay side. The island's highest point is just 22 feet above sea level.

    Much like a river becomes deeper and more turbulent when it narrows, a storm surge also can increase in height and intensity when its source of water narrows. Dodson said this has profound implications for the Port of Houston. Some models ended with a 30-foot wall of water in the Ship Channel near the port's turning basin, he said. "It would be huge," he said. "It could overwhelm chemical storage facilities, water treatment plants and other sensitive areas."

    The port's severe-weather plan calls for most cargo ships to exit the facility and weather the storm at sea in preparation for the possibility of flooded buildings.


    Wave modeling
    Another, perhaps even-now-unanticipated effect is large waves accompanying the storm surge.

    A waves expert at Texas A&M University at Galveston, Vijay Panchang, said he and colleagues were surprised when they observed wave data associated with Hurricane Ivan shortly before it slammed into Alabama last September.

    A wave-measuring buoy about 60 miles south of Dauphin Island, before it snapped, registered an average wave height of about 50 feet, Panchang said. That means the biggest waves were a staggering 100 feet tall. Such wave heights, according to his modeling, should only occur every 300 years or so.

    Either Ivan's waves were a freak event, or hurricane forecasters may need to adjust their wave expectations for large storms in the warm Gulf waters.

    "This is from a storm that hit only a few hundred miles to the east of us," he said. "There's nothing to say that another storm won't create really big waves for us."

    These large waves caused by Ivan may have been as responsible, if not more so, than the storm surge for severely damaging the I-10 bridge bear Pensacola, Fla., Panchang said.



    Surprises after landfall

    Engineers and forecasters say the most unpredictable element of a storm comes after landfall, when it either dumps rain and floods creeks and bayous or moves quickly enough that relatively little rain falls.

    Tropical Storm Allison probably isn't a good model for what to expect. The system was so poorly organized and slow moving that some hurricane forecasters say it wasn't a tropical storm. In some areas of the city, enough rain fell to classify Allison as a 10,000-year rainfall event. Still, because a large hurricane's storm surge likely would block the flow of bayou waters into Galveston Bay, any significant rainfall could back up into inland streets and homes quickly, Dodson said.

    The last major hurricane most Houston residents remember was Alicia, which made landfall on the west end of Galveston Island in August 1983.

    Unfortunately, planners say, as devastating as that storm was, it's a poor predictor of what to expect from a larger, Category 4 or bigger storm.

    Alicia's highest sustained winds on land were measured at 96 mph. Most of the Greater Houston area received just 5 inches of rain. Storm surges across much of the area were less than 10 feet, although Seabrook measured 12 feet.

    The storm spawned 23 tornadoes, killed 21 people and destroyed 2,300 homes.

    "Alicia was a marginal Category 3," Dodson said. "Its rainfall doesn't come close to this area's top 20 historical floods.

    "I guess what I'm saying is that I hope people don't ignore evacuation warnings because they remember that things weren't apocalyptic during Alicia."

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    They're predicting a landing and path over the east side of Houston. Last night the eye was going to be coming right over our house, now we're in the TS wind range on the SW side.

    Keep the folks over there in your thoughts, that storm surge they're talking about will be bad. One of our guys is a paramedic in Clear Lake, and he said he's there until at least Monday, and they're in the Cat 4 surge zone. I'll be at the station as soon as it's passed and the family is alright, but keep the prayers going for those that are on duty and staying in house while everyone else takes off.

    The good thing is people are getting out. Not quickly though, it's a 24 hour jaunt to Dallas now, slightly up from the normal 4.

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    They have just downgraded to a Cat. 4. I am sure that it will bounce around. Wishful thinking, but hopefully it will continue to "peter" out before landfall.
    YGBSM!
    Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

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  4. #29
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    Default She's going to be a HUGE BEE-ACH !!!!!!!!

    been watching all while at my part time gig ...Rich be safe I will be thinkin about you. I suspect no matter how you cut it .............this too is going to SUCK !............I did watch Mr Pauilson come on the news and give some good basic info in a press conference and status report................albeit one hurricane too late. But I was impressed none the less.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
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    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Unhappy

    We,r praying for you. I45 looks like a parking lot. Just think the season doesn't end until NOVEMBER. What a year sad sad sad.
    Stay Safe ~ The Dragon Still Bites!

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    Default What's in a name, haha.

    Thanks Mikey for the correction. Really haven't heard it for decades, and just sorta remembered it, haha.

    Wow, any Meterologist that would even say that, much less think so...would serve us better if he went out on a little boat and reported from there???

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    You know this is gonna be a bad one. I am in East Texas 300 miles from the coast(Longview). They are talking that when the storm hits us it will stall out and stay for 36-48 hours. Rain fall will be 12"-20". Cat 1 hurricane conditions 300 miles from the coast? The entire dept. is on emergency stand by and mandatory call back could be in effect. I think it is gonna get rough even up this way.
    A "Good" fire is not measured by how big it is, but by the fact that everyone is going home safe, and that we possibly learned something new about firefighting. Member:IACOJ

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    Quote Originally Posted by Station2Capt
    You know this is gonna be a bad one. I am in East Texas 300 miles from the coast(Longview). They are talking that when the storm hits us it will stall out and stay for 36-48 hours. Rain fall will be 12"-20". Cat 1 hurricane conditions 300 miles from the coast? The entire dept. is on emergency stand by and mandatory call back could be in effect. I think it is gonna get rough even up this way.
    That is what they predicted when Katrina arrived in our neck of the woods. The Cat. 1 resulted in roughly 80 mph gusts with unGodly rain when the eye passed over our county


    Thoughts and prayers are with those in the path of Rita.
    YGBSM!
    Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

    If all you have is a hammer, then your problems start to look like nails.
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    Some good news its down to cat 3
    Firefighter for Vestal 32-2

    American Red Cross Volunteer

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    Quote Originally Posted by dave29
    Some good news its down to cat 3
    Since when..I'm watching the news right now and its still a 4
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

    Ryan

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    Goo luck down there brothers. As always remember that the rest of the fire service has your back.

    The company I work for has an installation in Baytown. I was told today that I may end up down there depending on the damage.
    We struck down evil with the mighty sword of teamwork and the hammer of not bickering.

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    I stand corrected...lol..It is a Cat 3 afterall...None the less best of luck to everyone down there and be safe
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

    Ryan

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    First off,if you can't get out of town,then prepare,hunker down and pray to stay safe.

    The problem is that with instant access to weather and news updates,you here this"up,down,up down up down....."routine like we're back in boot camp.
    I've seen them upgrade and downgrade several times a day on CNN and MSNBC to my great annoyance.
    It they have to downgrade it they should wait a while before announcing it to ensure that it wasn't a localized effect that caused it to lose strength.Otherwise,people will stop paying attention to the weather alerts and we'll have another episode of people not leaving while the gettin's good.


    Quote Originally Posted by ndvfdff33
    I stand corrected...lol..It is a Cat 3 afterall...None the less best of luck to everyone down there and be safe

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    Default What's in a number?

    Well She has rocked back an forth, where the determination is made. So 3 0r 4 isn't the difference one would worry about. It's still gonna be lousy whenever she figures out to start landfall. Hopefully She doesn't just sit on one site, or loop around and hit somewhere again.

    Gettin' tough here in the DFW Metroplex. Shelters are full again already, and many gas stations are waiting on deliveries. Yikes. Back during the concerns during in the "9-11" period, I asked a State official to ensure that Emergency Personnel were considered for ability to get fuel even during a crisis. She hasn't answered me this time, but I hope she remembers that.

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    Our guys needed an LE escort yesterday to a station with gas to fill up the cans for the saws and the small fleet. None of the stations near my house have any gas, and all of the stores are closed.

    There really isn't anyone left in the lowlying areas anymore. About the only good thing coming out of Katrina is that people got out early. God help New Orleans though, they've been getting pounded with rain again and I thought I heard the levy broke again. All of this water down here and there's a drought everywhere else in the country practically.

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    reporting a LARGE HI-RISE fire in Galveston ..............3 buildings going ........
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Quote Originally Posted by Weruj1
    reporting a LARGE HI-RISE fire in Galveston ..............3 buildings going ........

    Josh, I saw what looked like a 2 or 3 story on the weather channel, is that the one or is there another?

    The one I saw was rippin' in the wind.....
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    Default Fires

    Yeah, according to Live reports, Galveston is working on at least their second Fire scene tonight. The first I saw reported, did involve an old Lodge (meeting hall) building, and at least another (art gallery). A citizen in the art gallery was burned. At least one early report had a Firefighter listed with a lesser injury. After this first Fire fight, more Resources came over the Causeway (tricky in the winds!!), to augment the Galveston force. I saw where some Ladder pipes were finally operating, so hopefully that means the winds have dropped to a level permitting aerials.

    Since then, it's been reported that Houston had a Fire in apartments, near the Gulf Freeway (Interstate 45, South). Busy times.

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    As the night goes on (1:15am PST) and Rita makes her presence known, all I can do is pray you all are staying safe through this nightmare.
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    She's not done yet! Several reports of a tornado touch-down in Belzoni, Mississippi. Several injuries and one fatality reported.

    At one time today I counted no less than 9 tornado warnings at one time in the state.
    Looks like the next band of strong storms is due in our area about 7:30 or 8:00 tonight.
    Chief
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    One of the buildings in Galveston was built in 1905, right after the big one hit down there. They believe a light pole went down into the buildings and started it.

    HFD had a 2 alarmer in SE Houston at an apartment complex, and Pasadena VFD had a good portion of a strip mall ripping also. It started in the Dollar General and went into the AutoZone, and with the fire load in there they let it burn. Less problem with runoff that way too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arhaney
    She's not done yet! Several reports of a tornado touch-down in Belzoni, Mississippi. Several injuries and one fatality reported.

    At one time today I counted no less than 9 tornado warnings at one time in the state.
    Looks like the next band of strong storms is due in our area about 7:30 or 8:00 tonight.
    .....batten down thine hatches caller ! ..be safe I will be thinkin about you ..........
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    A link to the local weather radar: Local Station WTVA

    Click on weather (DUH) for the latest warnings and radar image.
    Last edited by arhaney; 09-24-2005 at 09:16 PM.
    Chief
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    http://www.wrenfiredepartment.4t.com/

    In Memory of:
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    "Rest in peace James, you now have the ultimate set of wings on you."

    Thanks, LeuitEFDems

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    Quote Originally Posted by Weruj1
    .....batten down thine hatches caller ! ..be safe I will be thinkin about you ..........

    Thanks, Brother.....
    Chief
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    http://www.wrenfiredepartment.4t.com/

    In Memory of:
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    1946-2005
    "Rest in peace James, you now have the ultimate set of wings on you."

    Thanks, LeuitEFDems

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    Well, I'll be darn............the witch Rita is coming to my house!

    Just got off the NHC web site and saw this graphic:
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Chief
    Wren Volunteer Fire Department
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    http://www.wrenfiredepartment.4t.com/

    In Memory of:
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    "Rest in peace James, you now have the ultimate set of wings on you."

    Thanks, LeuitEFDems

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