August 26, 2017

Houston vs #Harvey (blasting Beaumont)


Harvey's projected longer-term path is firming up.
Weather Underground storm tracking map is linked to its updates, is live, not static.
A nightmare scenario first broached by the National Weather Service late Friday seems to be taking firmer shape, per midday Saturday forecasts and projections.

And, per the various sets of updates, the nightmare on rain has already happened and hasn't finished. It now looks like Harvey will ride the Gulf coastline until early Wednesday, eventually making its second landfall somewhere near Port Arthur, and pumping yet more rain into southeast Texas until then, perhaps another 15 inches northeast of Houston, and half that much, at least, closer into the city.

Parts of Harris County were STILL getting half an inch an hour of rain Tuesday morning. An inch an hour was falling to the east and north.

Update 3 p.m. Tuesday
6 p.m. Tuesday  — offshore 60 miles SSE of Galveston
6 a.m. Wednesday — landfall due south of Lake Charles
6 p.m. Wednesday — SSW of Alexandria, Louisiana
6 a.m. Thursday —  Due south of Monroe, Louisiana
6 a.m. Friday —  Oxford, Mississippi

Update 7 a.m. Tuesday — trajectory shifted yet eastward
Noon Wednesday — landfall SW of Lake Charles, Louisiana
Midnight, Wednesday/Thursday — Alexandria, Louisiana
Midnight, Thursday/Friday — above Greenville, Mississippi

Update 10 p.m. Monday — trajectory shifting eastward
6 a.m. Tuesday — Offshore due south of Houston
6 p.m. Tuesday — Closer offshore, due south of Galveston
6 a.m Wednesday — Just offshore of Port Arthur
6 p.m. Wednesday — North of Lake Charles, Louisiana
6 p.m. Thursday — SE Arkansas

Update, 10 a.m. Monday —  There has been a bit of a shift eastward, with the general paths remaining the same. Whether this will make thing better or worse for Houston? It could move rain bands away from Houston, but it could shove some sort of storm surge right up the Houston Ship Channel. In short, Houston is now in a situation similar to that with Ike nine years ago.
6 a.m. Tuesday — Offshore due south of Houston
6 p.m. Tuesday — Closer offshore, due south of Galveston
6 a.m. Wednesday — Near landfall on Bolivar Peninsula
6 a.m. Thursday — On the Toledo Bend Reservoir
6 a.m. Friday — Southern Arkansas

The latest models continue to show an accelerating clear-out after Harvey's second landfall.

And, speaking of "similar to Ike," no, it's not too soon to raise planning issues and the politics related to them.

Update, 10 p.m. Sunday (confirmed on 1 a.m. Monday update) — A bit of saving grace, perhaps. Harvey is expected to gain movement speed after making landfall again. That may mean a little less rain for Houston later in the week, but more before then, and longer over water.
Latest predictions:
Monday, noon — Matagorda or east
Monday/Tuesday midnight — Matagorda Bay
Tuesday, noon — Lake Jackson offshore
Tuesday/Wednesday, midnight — Freeport offshore, making landfall again
Wednesday/Thursday, midnight — East of Huntsville near Livingston
Thursday/Friday, midnight — near Ruston, Louisiana, southeast of Shreveport
Friday/Saturday, midnight — south-central Arkansas

Update, 4 p.m. Sunday — Latest NWS forecast is continuing to firm up and tighten.

By cities of larger size, here are approximates for storm center location through Friday:
Monday, 6 p.m. — Port O'Connor
Tuesday 6 p.m. — Offshore just off Lake Jackson
Wednesday 6 p.m. — Houston dead center
Thursday, 6 p.m. — Nacogdoches
Friday, 6 p.m. — Texarkana

Parts of Houston could get ANOTHER 15-25 inches of rain on top of what has already fallen. Petrochemical Alley could take a big hit.

(Contra a post from Space City Weather, I personally have not seen anybody claiming this will re-intensify to hurricane strength.)

Update, 11 a.m. Sunday: Per the NWS' 10 a.m. Sunday update, it's saying that its predictions from late last night are firming up, BUT, with part of the initial prediction coming back into play.

First, will come the semi-backup, or loop, out to Matagorda Bay. Then, moving inland NNE to NE. In fact, the backup has already started. Current movement is SSE.

Gasoline may become a factor as well. eXXXon is shutting its Baytown refinery. Houston Hobby airport closed. HISD closed all week. Some people are evacuating already.

Update, midnight Saturday/Sunday: now the NWS is saying it will head north-northeast by Wednesday, not due north. Houston not yet totally out of the woods, relatively speaking. NWS latitude and longitude put the eye, tentatively, over Franklin late Thursday night. And, I know where that is (due north of College Station) because I've been there before.

Update, 8 p.m. Saturday: The most recent forecasts, per the updated map, call for it to NOT back out, but slowly head northward.

Otherwise, this appears to be back to worst-case scenario for Houston. Houston ISD is already closing all week.

As of early Sunday afternoon, predictions look like they're starting to firm up for a longer-term path. Harvey should come JUST BARELY west of Houston on a NNE-to-NE path, then track about dead center over Huntsville, then head to Tyler.

Predictions still call for at least 20 inches of rain in the core area and now, as much as 40 inches in spots.

Gov. Greg Abbott was wrong last Friday about thinking Houstonians should evacuate already then. But, looking ahead to Wednesday night at the earliest, Friday morning at the latest, I think he's now shaping up to be right.

Indeed. Some of Houston's major freeways and parkways were reporting high-water closures already on Saturday. Pearland had 10 inches in 90 minutes late Saturday night. And we're a long ways away from next Wednesday.

Especially if you look at this ProPublica/Texas Tribune piece from a year ago, capped by this shorter follow-up specific to Harvey, about how Houston has become engineered by willful stubbornness to be a laboratory for human-induced floods, with elected officials from both Houston and Harris County spineless, and climate deniers running the county's flood control program, 20-plus inches of rain, continuing longer than those from named and unnamed storms of the past few years?

(Stephen Costello, Mayor Sylvester Turner's flood control czar for Houston, also appears to be a climate change denier.)

Not a chance.

Plus, per Weather Underground, if part of Harvey is hanging out over the Gulf for that full trip up to Houston, you'll have a continuous storm surge preventing rivers, creeks and bayous from fully and quickly draining. It's going to be a giant water backup.

Add in that parts of Houston are at, maybe slightly below, sea level to land subsidence from groundwater pumping?

I laugh sardonically now more than ever at former Houston Mayor Annise Parker's claim, while still in office, that Houston would pass Chicago in size in the not-too-distant future.

Wrong!

Chicago doesn't flood and it does have zoning. Something like Harvey, mixed with sluggishness in the energy petrochemicals, oil and gas, sector (ignoring possible damages from Harvey to boot) lack of green energy development in Houston, and Greg Abbott's Texas miracle turning as much to sand as Rick Perry's did, and Houston could get kind of unattractive.

Houston mayors haven't been kleptocratic thugs, unlike Rahm Emanuel. That's about the only thing going for them. And Harris County is simply a hotbed of hackery.

And, I haven't yet even discussed (h/t Brains and Eggs) the fictitious "Hurricane Isaiah" modeled in a New York Times Sunday Review piece a year ago.

Harvey will certainly not be THAT bad. But, it almost surely is going to be far worse than Ike. Ike was nearly a decade ago. Houston, Harris County, and the state of Texas have all had plenty of time to prepare.

And have failed.

No, we're scratching that.

And have refused.

At all levels of government, it's been "open for business" business as usual. Plus climate change denialism, tinged with touches of Agenda 21 conspiracies and more.

Speaking of, the "Isaiah" story gets some things wrong. It doesn't even mention the "carbon tax + carbon tariff" idea that would, contra its claims near the end, force the whole world on one page on climate change. And, rather than mention Houston and Harris County adding permeability and reducing concrete, it touts two different options on Venice Lagoon type dikes or gates.

Wrong.

They might stop an Isaiah, but as the main Pro Publica story shows, they wouldn't do a damn thing to fix rain-induced flooding.

For more on the issues faced by Houston, and how both recent and older politics have contributed, read this collection of articles by the Chronicle.

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Related on disorganization/update: Brains says "no," the gov is wrong on the evacuation issue, and links to his personal experience evacuating from Rita. That said, Brains notes that Houston was unprepared for evacuation then. Theoretically, on things like lane counterflow, city, state and county are better set this time. After all, there were evacuations from Ike, which, per Wiki, went reasonably well other than those who refused to evacuate because of the Rita clusterfuck.

And, if you REALLY can't get that many people evacuated? Per Ed Abbey's "growth for growth's sake is the theology of the cancer cell," you got too damned many people there.

And, new FEMA head Brock Long (maybe he's also a climate change denier) is also among the politically connected useless idiots:
“You could not draw this forecast up. You could not dream this forecast up.”

Bullshit. Not only do we have ProPublica/Texas Tribune document Houston and Harris County exacerbating flooding, we have, from a year ago, the New York Times Sunday Review with a fictional-for-now essay modeling a Hurricane Isaiah far stronger than this. 

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