All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Houston, we have a problem...

Well, Hurricane Ike heading right for Bubba Crosby's house. Ike is projected to pass just west of Galveston (which is where Bellaire, Texas is). It's also the worst possible track for Houston/Galveston. (It means the city gets the "dirty" side of the storm - the stronger side.) Though the NHC is predicting it will make landfall as a Category 3, some forecasters are predicting it will be a Category 4.

There's also an interesting new measure of hurricanes. (Call it hurricane sabermetrics.) Jeff Masters describes a new scale coincidentally called IKE (Integrated Kinetic Energy), that is supposed to be a better measure of a hurricane's power than the Saffir-Simpson scale. By that measure, Ike is the powerful Atlantic hurricane in 40 years.

The good news is that it's avoiding the major oil infrastructure. The bad news is that there are many refineries in the Houston area. They are being shut down and evacuated. The Gulf area is not fully recovered from Gustav, and now they're having to shut down again.

Not surprisingly, wholesale gasoline had a record-setting price spike today. Actual shortages are a possibility, since so many refineries are shut down. (It takes a couple of weeks for refinery products from the Gulf to reach the northeast, so if there are problems, they won't be immediate.)

This looks like it's going to be a bad storm, and it's probably not possible to evacuate Houston at this point. They are concentrating on evacuating only the lowest-lying areas, and asking everyone else to "shelter in place" in order to keep the roads clear for those who must evacuate. Reports from Houston are that the highways are bumper-to-bumper, and many gas stations are out of gas.

The warnings from the National Hurricane Center are very stark:


All neighborhoods...and possibly entire coastal communities...will be inundated during high tide. Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single family one or two story homes will face certain death. Many residences of average construction directly on the coast will be destroyed. Widespread and devastating personal property damage is likely elsewhere. Vehicles left behind will likely be swept away. Numerous roads will be wwamped...some may be washed away by the water. Entire flood prone coastal communities will be cutoff. Water levels may exceed 9 feet for more than a mile inland. Coastal residents in multi-story facilities risk being cutoff. Conditions will be worsened by battering waves. Such waves will exacerbate property damage...with massive destruction of homes...including those of block construction. Damage from beach erosion could take years to repair.

As you might expect, Ike is wreaking havoc on sports schedules. The Washington State-Baylor football game has been moved up to Friday night. Texas-Arkansas has been postponed, TCU-Stanford has been moved up, and Houston-Air Force was moved from Houston to Dallas.

The Houston Astros really, really wanted to get their series against the Cubs in this weekend. They have a roof, so they've never had a weather cancellation. They have a chance to make the postseason, and they didn't want to give up home field advantage in this key series.

However, a Category 4 hurricane is not exactly your typical inclement weather. The Cubs balked, not wanting to get stuck in Houston during a hurricane. Eventually, the Astros saw reason (or Bud Selig stepped in). The games have been postponed.

According to a friend of mine in Houston many businesses told their employees to go home at lunch time today, so they could prepare for the hurricane.

But many did not. There could be a lot of people unprepared this time, because this hurricane was very hard to predict, and they didn’t want to evacuate a big city like Houston if there was no reason. There are also reports that many who were told to evacuate Galveston Island are refusing - which could be a fatal mistake.

Galveston after the Hurricane of 1900. This storm was a big reason for the rise of Houston. People wanted to move to higher ground.

I also heard an unconfirmed report that Roger Clemens bailed out of a dinner last night, presumably to go board up his mansion.

posted by BubbaFan, 6:45 PM


Add a comment