Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
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:
LIFE THREATENING INUNDATION LIKELY!
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.
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