All eyes on are Galveston and Houston, Texas this morning as the lastest NHC forecast tracks for Rita call for a direct strike on Galveston Bay. Rita is still maintaining Category 5 status at the 11am update and made it to the 3rd strongest hurricane in recorded history last night at 897mb. Forecast tracks have slowly shifted north and east the last few advisories, which is really a worst case scenario. Traffic congestion and gas problems for people trying to escape the path of this storm in Houston are really unbelievable today. Below are my biggest concerns for this storm and how it may play out over the next 2 days.
1. The latest forecast tracks have this storm headed towards the most populated area on the Texas coast. The cost of the storm will approach Katrina type numbers and will be #2 all time behind Katrina.
2. Galveston will suffer a massive storm surge and a large part of that barrier island will be gone. I expect the storm surge to be over 20 feet. The sea wall will easily be breached.
3. Downtown Houston will suffer major wind damage and will be raining glass as windows are blown out of the buildings downtown.
4. Inland flooding will be a huge problem as the storm stalls over NE Texas and SE Oklahoma after landfall. Over 15 inches of rain can be expected in this area.
5. Bay Island, which houses Exxon's largest oil refinery will be flooded. Gas prices will go over $4.00 a gallon after the storm once refinery damage becomes clear.
6. Houston will have the same refugee problem that New Orleans had, but in lesser numbers. A large percentage of residents on the coast will lose their homes due to the storm surge. Power outages will last for weeks.
7. New Orleans will suffer flooding and massive rainfall from a stalled storm. It is very likely the Levee system will fail and the city will flood again.
100 years ago Galveston suffered the worst hurricane in this countries history for loss of life. If people do not evacuate these barrier islands around Galveston, they will suffer the same fate as those did in 1900. Watching this play out on TV the next 3 days is going to be amazing.
Live video streams out of Houston can be viewed from NBC and KHOU. Galveston is streaming live radio. Jim Williams at Hurricane City will be talking about this storm tonight at 9pm EST.