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Archive for September 14th, 2008

Ike Church Cleanup

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Yesterday after Ike’s departure, Susan and I went up the street to the Lutheran church where she works. Since the minister had evacuated to Austin, we were the first ones in to check the place out for damage beyond the obvious – Ike’s wind had taken the steeple down.

Since the church was included with us as one of the lucky few to have power restored already, we returned today to help out by getting most of the water up off the carpet in the church sanctuary, putting my trusty steam cleaner to task. Best as I can estimate, I managed to get over 50 gallons of some rather unholy water up, converting long stretches of carpet from very squishy to barely damp. We expect they’ll probably still need to rip up this carpet to replace it, but getting this water up and out still helped them start their cleanup.

And gave me some well-needed exercise!

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

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Written by macheide

14 September 2008 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Adrien

Hell or High Water

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One single metric does not suffice to warn people of a pending hurricane threat. Calling Ike a 2 left far too many people unprepared. And trying to emphasize Ike was a “strong 2” just 1mph below a 3 didn’t help. Weather forecasters would do better to work toward educating people on a 4-metric system: wind – rainfall – surge – intensity. And like has been done with the existing single-metric scale, so as to build on common public understanding of relative degree of threat, construct the new metrics so that they also go from 1 through 5, exponentially.

  1. Wind – Yes, do keep the existing scale based on wind speed. Potential damage to roofs, structures, blowing debris, and other wind-related risks is obviously one critical aspect of a hurricane.
  2. Rainfall – Allison didn’t even make it to a cat 1 and accordingly posed little or no threat to structural integrity vis a vis wind damage, but was of course a sufficiently severe rainfall threat to make Allison the only tropical storm that never reached hurricane status yet had its name retired. Perhaps the metric here could be developed from the forward speed of the storm, since a stalled storm dumps far more rain.
  3. Storm Surge – Ike will be remembered more for its surge than for its winds, while its rain was hardly a shrug. For this metric, look to wave levels as the storm approaches perhaps.
  4. Intensity – Or duration, something that indicates the momentum behind the storm. Like how getting hit by a 110mph train is a hell of a difference from being hit by a 110mph feather. Ike was huge, with hurricane-force winds extending some 120 miles from center as it approached land. That meant it would last longer inland after landfall, indeed was said to have built up more kinetic energy than any other hurricane for the past 40 years. People were insufficiently warned of what that threat meant.

So Allison might have been tagged a 0-4-0-3, so residents in low-lying areas with high flash flood risk would know their threat to be very high and of somewhat extended duration. And shoreline residents might not have shrugged so much at Ike if it had been tagged a 2-1-4-5. Whereas a 4-1-1-1 would tell mobile home residents to beware even if the relative duration of the storm were to be brief. While something like a 2-2-1-5 would warn residents that storm threats would persist very far inland.

Such a system would not be overly complicated to communicate, especially if they built it up on a 5-must system similar to the existing scale. People already juggle multiple numbers in numerous situations, from blood pressure readings to stock market swings to sports standings. Is it too much to ask that we have the necessary information for something so life-threatening as a hurricane?

[Additional Ike-related aftermath content: Hurricane Ike Aftermath]

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Written by macheide

14 September 2008 at 6:24 am

Posted in macheide