Archive for the ‘Evacuation’ Tag
What concerns me most is the number of people who will not address and act upon hurricane Sandy’s threat maturely. As a man who grew up in an environment where “being a man” meant being able to handle, support, protect, and defend – I can identify with the need to have it “together” in these types of situations. It was hard for me on the morning of 8-23-1992 to “order” my wife, two children, father-in-law, and mother-in-law into my van so that we could evacuate our two homes (separated by less than a mile) in Homestead, Florida to escape approaching hurricane Andrew. But, when we returned 3 days later we were thanking the Great Guy In the Sky that we were not there when the storm hit. It would have been a most traumatic experience and could have been deadly. Our house was a total loss and my in-laws’ house was severely damaged but not beyond repair. There are people today of all ages still suffering post traumatic stress syndrome over that hurricane of 20 years ago. Admittedly, the aftermath and rebuilding processes were extraordinarily difficult but we were together and healthy and I had very good insurance and did not lose my job. Thousands of people lost both their dwellings and their jobs! We had much for which to be grateful.
But, sometimes, in an attempt to handle, support, protect, and defend – people (men in particular, I think) tend to make macho decisions that they later regret – if they live to experience regret. One example is: Failing to evacuate dangerous areas that are subject to flooding, landslides, storm surges, etc. Believe me – there is no disgrace in fleeing in such circumstance. Sure, one wants to stay and protect his/her home and the “things” within it but such a mindset can backfire resulting in fatal consequences. Take my word for it, “things” can be replaced in time but once you lose your life of worse, that of a loved one – there is no going back or rebirth back into this dimension.
Hurricane Sandy is a storm that has it all. Oh sure, it’s not a category 5 storm as was Andrew but it is a huge storm taking up an area more than the size of Texas one and one-half times! And – it has a strong pressure gradient. It has a very long fetch (distance of water over which the wind blows) which increases significantly the potential height of the storm surge.
Just because the winds are within the category 1 range, remember that slight increases can cause exponential increases in the potential force. In fact, doubling the wind velocity quadruples the air’s potential force upon a surface that it strikes at right angles. Early on in my teaching career it because quite apparent to me that most people assume that doubling the velocity simply doubles the force. But that is far from true. For example, an 80 mile per hour wind has FOUR TIMES the potential force of a 40 mile per hour wind. So DON’T think to yourself, “I know I can deal with a 40 mile per hour wind; in fact I and my dwelling can deal with one that is 80 miles per hour because that is just two times that of a “40.” YOU WOULD BE VERY, VERY WRONG! If you are interested in more on this subject, including an equation – go here:
A great deal of precipitation over land is expected with Sandy – so much that many of the drainage systems, both natural and man-made, will not be able to handle it. Trees will be less stable because of saturation of the soil and rock into which their roots are anchored. Combined with the wind force, many will come down. Unhealthy trees will snap. Mother Nature WILL do a great amount of pruning. Electricity will be cut off due to line damage from falling debris and flooding. Water pressure may drop or reduce to zero. Even modern gravity-feed systems require boosting due to the effects of friction and that usually requires electricity. If you have an electric pump with a well and no emergency generator, you could be out of luck. If your toilet is relatively modern you will still need about 1.6 gallons per flush. “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down” might become your rule of thumb even if you have a lot of water stored (as in a tub that doesn’t slowly leak at the drain).
Since much moisture will be drawn in by the storm from off the Atlantic and much cold air will be drawn down from the north, there is a very strong chance for SNOW with this storm.
The bottom line, in my opinion is – If you are in the path of Sandy and:
- in a storm surge zone – evacuate.
- in a wooded area with big trees so close to your home that upon falling they are likely to do structural damage – evacuate.
- upon a hillside or mountainside where your area or an area above or below you has been stripped of most vegetation – evacuate. Slides are a real danger in these cases.
- in a region that can easily flood – evacuate.
- in a neighborhood where there is a lot of loose matter that could easily become damaging airborne projectiles – evacuate.
- in a mobile home or R.V. – evacuate.
- in a dwelling where, when you look out a front window you are looking down a street that is at right angles to your street – evacuate. The Venturi Effect can channel much higher winds and debris right into your dwelling!
- in any kind of a topographic restriction such as a narrow valley between two hills or mountains – evacuate for the same reason as in item 7.
- NOT prepared for many days without water service and/or electricity – evacuate.
- in an evacuation zone – evacuate!
- one who feels as though fleeing is a cowardly act – engage in a very quick but thorough attitude adjustment and ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION.
BUT DON’T EVACUATE IF THE STORM IS UPON YOU UNLESS YOU FEEL THAT THE MOVE IS ACTUALLY SAFER THAN STAYING.
I learned while watching the Weather Channel around 12:15 pm EDT that about half of the residents of Galveston are still there. That is not good news. I suspect that the wind speeds and category of the hurricane are within the range of what many people feel they can handle – but that is not sound thinking. What I fear they are failing to consider is the size of the storm. According to Dr. Jeff Masters from WeatherUnderground, the “Integrated Kinetic Energy” for Ike is 30% higher than was that of Katrina. So – a huge amount of water is being pushed (and pulled) ashore by the storm. It is not merely the wind velocity that determines the magnitude of the surge; the size of the storm is a very important factor. It’s as if you were the quarterback and you had your choice of being sacked by the fastest defender or being “stopped and stomped” by the entire front line. The linemen would represent far more total energy, even though each is slower than the fastest defender.
IT IS NOT WISE TO FOCUS ON ONE MODEL. THE FOLLOWING IMAGE IS USED FOR SAKE OF PROVIDING A GENERAL IDEA ONLY. HOWEVER, THE MODELS ARE ALL IN GREAT AGREEMENT OVER THE NEXT 32 HOURS OF MOVEMENT.
PLEASE, IF YOU ARE IN HARMS WAY – SURELY YOU HAVE BEING WARNED. IT DOESN’T ALWAYS HAPPEN TO THE OTHER GUY! THIS TIME YOU COULD BE THAT OTHER GUY! IF YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND ARE THE DECISION-MAKER WITHIN YOUR GROUP – DON’T BE MR. OR MS. MACHO! GET THE HECK OUT OF THERE! IF YOU ARE NOT THE DECISION-MAKER IN YOUR GROUP, IT’S TIME FOR A NON-VIOLENT MUTINY! GET YOUR POSTERIORS OUT OF THERE!
TWO LEFT CLICKS ON THE IMAGE BELOW SHOULD MAKE IT LARGER.
Above I have posted an image showing all of the hurricanes and tropical storms that have come within 50 statute miles of Houston, Texas from 1928 through 2007. Many verified events occurred before 1928, including the most infamous 1900 Galveston hurricane. LEFT CLICKING ON THE IMAGE WILL ENLARGE IT. I prepared this chart using a program with a menu whereby I could select the city and pick the time frame. For your information, Galveston is 45.2 statute miles from the center of Houston (as the crow flies).
It illustrates that those cities are indeed in hurricane territory and that no one should be surprised that a storm such as Ike is now threatening them (and others). Just as it is where I live in Florida, it goes with the territory. People who live in that coastal area should not be reading this now unless they have gotten out of there. If you are currently somewhere else along the Texas and West Louisiana coast, please be prepared to seek higher ground inland. My opinion is that the sooner you make a move, the better. Why risk it? Of course there are hazards involved in evacuating too and you must be sober, wide awake, and thus alert.
Though I expect this to be renewed/revised soon, here is an EXCERPT from the most recent official statement by the Galveston office of the National Hurricane Center:
Statement as of 4:19 PM CDT on September 11, 2008
… Storm surge and storm tide…
Tide levels will begin rising Friday morning and will exceed
5 feet above mean lower low water along the Upper Texas coast and
along the shorelines of the bays by mid to late morning Friday.
Water levels will rise rapidly beginning late afternoon Friday as
the storm surge moves in with water levels peaking Friday night
and early Saturday. Maximum storm tide levels are highly dependent
on the track of the storm and variations in the track of only 15
miles can make differences of several feet more or less from some
of these values.
Maximum water levels forecast:
Gulf-facing coastline west of Sargent… 5 to 8 feet
Shoreline of Matagorda Bay… 5 to 8 feet
Gulf-facing coastline Sargent to High Island
including Galveston Island… … 12 to 16 feet
Shoreline of Galveston Bay… 15 to 22 feet
Life threatening inundation likely!
All neighborhoods… and possibly entire coastal communities…
will be inundated during the period of peak storm 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 swamped… 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
What follows is an excerpt from a 1998 publication titled AMERICA’S HURRICANE THREAT under the auspices of the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium. What I’m showing you is a small part of their sobering account of what can happen to houses in the strong winds of a hurricane. The house on the left in the image above is mildly damaged compared to many in that neighborhood. I have been reading the above-mentioned report tonight due to my special interest in Hurricane Andrew. Those of you who have been following this web-log since its beginning 18 days ago might recall having read somewhere that our home was a total loss in that 1992 hurricane. In time, I have written about the experience in a recent posting dealing with window protection. Here is the excerpt from the report:
“Andrew totally destroyed 63,000 homes and partly damaged another 110,000, making 250,000 people homeless. With roofs damaged or blown off, rain following the hurricane poured inside structures, soaking and collapsing Sheetrock and destroying billions of dollars worth of furniture, carpeting, televisions, and other items. The insurance industry estimates that 25-40% of insured losses were due to slipshod construction practices.
Most homeowners do not give a second thought to their roofs-until they leak or disappear. Yet roofs are the Achilles heel of homes in hurricane-prone areas from Maine to Texas.
As strong winds strike a building, their flow is diverted, swirling over and around the structure. Think of a mountain stream roaring against a giant boulder, which deflects the current. The stream flow accelerates around the obstacle, resulting in rapids. In the same way, hurricane winds speed up around corners and edges, creating suction that pulls on building materials like a super-powerful vacuum hose. Fierce gusts and suction pressure make a dangerous combination, especially for roofs. They yank off tiles and shingles, first at the roof edge and then along its slope as you’d peel an orange. During Andrew, huge numbers of tiles were stripped from roofs this way, and carried off by high winds, they crashed through windows by tens of thousands.
If you lose a window or door during a hurricane, you’re in big trouble. Extreme winds push through an opening in a building, increasing air pressure inside like blowing up a balloon beyond its capacity. If you force enough air pressure inside a house, it can break at its weakest point, usually the roof.
As roofs are being pushed off from within, they are being pried loose from the outside. Peel away tiles or shingles and you’ll find a covering of roofing paper, under which is plywood attached to rafters. But a roof won’t stand much of a chance in hurricane-force winds if builders haphazardly tie down plywood to rafters-if they use too few nails or miss the rafters altogether with their nail ‘guns.’ After Andrew, engineers reported that many contractors had routinely missed their marks. ‘With the use of automatic nail guns, the workman lost his feel for the nailing process,’ said Saffir. ‘The result was that many nails went through the sheathing into thin air, not into the truss or rafter below. This was a common occurrence.’
If your plywood sheeting flies away in the wind, you’ve lost more than just a roof covering. You’ve also lost a portion of the house’s structural integrity. That is, plywood sheets are often the sole lateral bracing for the rafters, actually holding the roof together. So with the plywood gone, the rafters are loosely tethered in the wind.
To compound the problem, many contractors fail to tightly fasten wood gable ends-the flat ends of a pitched roof-to walls. So when a powerful gust hits an unbraced gable, the gable end can be pulled loose at the wall, allowing wind to enter the building. If the roof sheathing is pulled off at the gable end, the rafters can fall over.
During hurricane Andrew, tens of thousands of homes were damaged due to such failures in roofs.”
NOTE FROM CLOUDMAN23: Many of you reading this could be living in dwellings without adequate roof truss tie-downs and/or with poor roof sheathing attachment. Do you know what the codes were when your house was built? Do you feel confident that your dwelling was built according to code? Were the inspections thorough and particular or were they inadequate? For some, those are hard questions to answer. In any event, please evacuate if Ike is heading your way. Heed the warnings. Please.
Please visit the rest of this web-log at https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/. If you are interested in weather, there are some tutorials scattered about and more will be added in time. At the end of this page there is a cue to click to the previous page or the next page.
CAUTION – THIS POST IS TIME SENSITIVE – THE TIME ESTIMATES AND GRAPHIC NO LONGER APPLY
Though the validity date stamp on late cycle spaghetti plots is not as recent as some available to you on line, it is my opinion that they provide a more accurate picture. The following late cycle plot for Ike pretty much tells it all with regard to a Texas coast landfall. I am inclined to place a high personal degree of confidence upon this. However, hurricanes in the past have pulled some terrific surprises. If you are anywhere else along the Gulf Coast, particularly other segments of the western margin of the Gulf and the western half of the northern Gulf coast – I would not let my guard down if I were you. And, if you are, say, 50 miles inland, consider that at the nearest point, Baton Rouge is about 60 miles from the Gulf and over 100 miles from the Gulf along a line in the direction that Gustav moved. Do a search and see what a mess they are in – right now. According to the “Advocate” newspaper today, there are still 57,775 residents without electricity. And their winds were mainly tropical storm force though some gusts up to 91mph were reported.
If you are in harm’s way with Ike, I suggest you think in terms of evacuation. As I understand it, evacuation directives have already been issued along some parts of the Texas coast. Please read my September 8 post (just 2 days ago) titled “Window Protection For Hurricanes Essential.” If it’s not on this page it will be on page 2. At the apparent end of the post there is a place where you can click and read an account of my family’s experience in the aftermath of hurricane Andrew. Read it and ask yourself if you want to try to ride out a big hurricane. If you think life is stressful now – try adding the trauma of enduring the dangers of a strong hurricane and then, if you live, dealing with the high probability of post-traumatic issues. I can think of nothing material worth trying to “protect” when a storm is in progress. The time to protect “things” is before a storm. It is still not too late to do some of that and then get the heck out of there. You are far more important than any material thing.
“The Plot (below) is provided courtesy of Jonathan Vigh, Colorado State University. For more information about this graphic, click here.”
LEFT CLICK THE IMAGE TWICE FOR A LARGER VIEW