Texas Troubles

Some thoughts on Rita:

My mother has disappeared into the mass of people evacuating themselves from Houston. The cell phone system is overloaded so nobody has heard from her since 3pm.

This sucks.

Still, if it’s a contest between Mom and a hurricane, I’m betting on Mom.

In looking at the news I don’t think that a lot of people outside the state realize that conditions are most likely going to much different and possibly much worse than in Katrina.

Hurricanes that come ashore up the Mississippi valley and eastward tend to be pushed east and north by prevailing winds. They move rapidly across any given area. It is not unusual to see sunshine and clear skies just 4-6 hours after the storm passes.

Hurricanes that come ashore west and south of the Mississippi, however, tend to pile into prevailing winds and “stall.” They just disintegrate in place and rain themselves out over a period of several days. The rains create flooding over a huge area. Rita is expected to dump 15 to 30 inches (38 to 72 cm) within 48 hours. The eastern 3rd of Texas, basically from Dallas south and from Austin east, will see flooding conditions everywhere. That is what happened with Alicia in ’83.

So the storm will trash the coast, move inland, stall and then flood everything. The part of the State most likely to flood drains down to Port Arthur and Houston/Galveston. There won’t be any masses of helicopter rescues as with Katrina. It is quit possible that all light aircraft will be grounded for days. Ground based rescue and relief will have to fight through flood waters to get help into areas where storm surges and wind have wrecked everything.

I am confident that the intense phase of emergency will last longer than we saw with Katrina. People could be on their own much longer than 72 hours and the affected area could be much, much larger.

[update: Mom turned back. Traffic was to heavy. She’s going to try again early tomorrow.]

7 thoughts on “Texas Troubles”

  1. My best wishes to your mom. I’m sure she’s fine, but as you note it’s no fun being unable to reach each other.

    I sure hope you’re wrong about the extent of the damage to come.

  2. Good luck to your mother. Does she have to stick to the main roads? Without rain yet the back roads are not in bad shape. (People were arriving here & at my mother-in-laws for the last two days and they had quite different experiences depending on the way & time they came.)

  3. My family and I live in the area that Katrina plowed through and we decided the things we missed the most were (in this order):
    1.) Not being able to use our phones to contact loved ones to let them know we were safe.
    2.) Air conditioning!!!!
    3.) Washing machine
    That is pretty drastic when you miss something more than A.C. in Louisiana. I understand your pain.

  4. Shannon,
    I got a vision of a grandmotherly figure wearing an apron, combat boots and punching mitts going a round with the hurricane.

    I’m sure she’ll be fine. My friends were stuck in the exodus from Houston yesterday and they said everyone was helping everyone. There was a spirit of comraderie, a real we’re-all-in-this-togetherness. Hang tough.

  5. Steve,

    “I got a vision of a grandmotherly figure wearing an apron, combat boots and punching mitts going a round with the hurricane.”

    Actually, my mother is rather a lot like May West or Ms Piggy. She can’t cook, drives a red, two-seater convertible and dates a Houston PD motorcycle cop who is only a few years older than I am.

    Your stereotypical grandmother, she ain’t.

    She wouldn’t have evacuated at all except that she has Lupus and is no longer heat tolerant. She expected to lose power and didn’t think she could stand 90+ degree heat at %100 humidity.

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