Happy #WeatherWednesday everyone! This weekly blog has taken a brief hiatus as Texas was being affected by Hurricane Harvey and Florida by Hurricane Irma. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by these tragic storms. Things have settled down for now, just in time to discuss a piece of Texas weather history.
Today is the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Ike’s landfall in Galveston, TX. Before 2017, Ike was the third most costly Atlantic tropical system. It likely won’t hold this placement after the official cost assessment of recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is announced. Ike really messed up Haiti and killed 74, cost a lot of damage in the US and killed 113, and overall killed 195 people. Here is the path with color-coded intensities:
Ike made landfall in Cuba as a Category 4. On this day at 2AM 9 years ago, after a trip through the Gulf of Mexico, Ike made landfall in Galveston as a high end Cat-2 with 110mph winds! Ike didn’t dissipate until it blew past the Great Lakes and well into Quebec on the 15th. It affected the Houston/Galveston metro, the Ozarks, and the Lower Ohio Valley/Great Lakes with damaging winds and dangerous flooding. This wind damage actually tied the Xenia tornado outbreak as the costliest storm event in Ohio (1.1 billion USD). Canada also had record setting flash flooding from Ike. It had one of the most impressive track lengths and intensities across the North American continent than other landfalling storms in some time.
Texas had serious issues with Ike since it went right through Houston and the Galveston Island. President Bush issued an emergency declaration for federal aid well before landfall. A mandatory evacuation was issued for Galveston Island just two days before landfall, owning to necessary contraflow on I-45 to the north from Galveston to Houston. Traffic was absolutely insane, as seen below.
Some areas in Houston recorded up to 18 inches of rainfall from Ike, while Galveston found themselves 6-8 feet underwater from storm surge. Wind damage was bad as Greater Houston got hit by Ike’s eyewall where the fastest winds were.
Until last month (Harvey), Ike was the last hurricane to strike Texas since 2008. Tropical storms like Hermine (2010), Bill (2015), and Cindy (2017) have caused mischief in Texas since then, however. As the summer winds down, hurricanes in the western Gulf become increasingly unlikely. Hopefully it’s a long time again before Texas sees a greater magnitude storm like Ike or Harvey!