Study concludes: "major hurricane could devastate the Houston/Galveston region"

A major hurricane could devastate the Houston/Galveston region? Whooda thunk? Thank goodness they consulted the all knowing supercomputer model to figure this fact out: “it could easily have caused $100 billion in damage“.

Or, they could have simply consulted history to arrive at the same conclusion and saved a boatload of money and electricity. Nah, history ain’t sexy, modeling is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for hurricane safety preparation, but this didn’t require a multi-university consortium and a supercomputer model to figure out.

File:1900 Galveston hurricane track.png

The 1900 Galveston hurricane track, which follows the color scheme from the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

Free history from Wikipedia - in 2005 "Katrina dollars"

Via press release from Eurekalert. Study: Major hurricane could devastate Houston

Post-Ike study by Rice’s SSPEED Center details vulnerabilities

With the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season less than a week away, a new analysis from experts at several Texas universities is warning that a major hurricane could devastate the Houston/Galveston region. A report issued today by the Rice University-based Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters Center (SSPEED) indicates that even a moderately powerful hurricane could endanger tens of thousands of lives and cripple the Houston Ship Channel, which is home to about one-quarter of U.S. refineries.

SSPEED’s report was unveiled today at the 2010 Coastal Resilience Symposium, a one-day workshop at Rice that brought together regional, national and international experts to discuss how the Houston region can be made more resilient to severe storm impacts.

“There are warning signs across the board,” said SSPEED Director Phil Bedient, Rice’s Herman Brown Professor of Engineering and a co-author of the new report. “Ike was a Category 2 hurricane, and it caused $30 billion in damage. Had that same storm struck 30 miles farther south, it could easily have caused $100 billion in damage. Had it struck that location as a Category 4 storm, like Carla, the results would have been catastrophic.”

The new report comes from an ongoing two-year study commissioned from SSPEED in 2009 by the nonprofit Houston Endowment. SSPEED has assembled a team of more than a dozen leading experts from Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, the University of Houston, Texas Southern University and several other institutions to examine flood risks, evacuation readiness, industrial vulnerability and both structural and nonstructural approaches for mitigating storm impact.

SSPEED’s report indicates:

  • Existing dikes and levees along the Houston Ship Channel were barely adequate during Hurricane Ike and would not protect all refineries from the storm surge of a more powerful hurricane or even an Ike-like Category 2 hurricane striking farther south.
  • More than 65 percent of water-crossing bridges in the Galveston Bay area may be especially vulnerable to damage from a powerful hurricane like Katrina.
  • Highway infrastructure to evacuate the 1 million residents living in evacuation zones today is inadequate, and 500,000 more are expected to move into these zones by 2035.
  • There is a “major disconnect” between the level of coastal flooding that would be caused by a major hurricane and the 100-year floodplains that flood insurance is based upon.

Bedient said one need look no further than the Houston Ship Channel to get a clear sense of the region’s vulnerability. The ship channel is home to one of the nation’s busiest ports and about one-quarter of U.S. refineries. The Coast Guard estimates a one-month closure of a major port like Houston would cost the national economy $60 billion.

Despite this, government regulations require dikes and levees that can protect ship channel facilities against only the 100-year flood of 14-15 feet. Bedient said that based upon results from supercomputer models at the University of Texas, Austin, Ike could have caused a 20- to 25-foot storm surge along the ship channel if it had struck about 30 miles farther south.

“Our team is taking an in-depth, scientific look at structural proposals like the Ike Dike and other dike solutions, as well as nonstructural proposals related to land use,” said Rice’s Jim Blackburn, professor in the practice of environmental law and co-author of the new report. “Our work so far has revealed a number of different structural and nonstructural solutions. There are dozens of communities along the coast, and each is unique in some way. We are attempting to identify the most cost-effective and environmentally acceptable methods of providing a basic level of protection, including both structural barriers and nonstructural approaches that take advantage of natural features like barrier islands and storm-surge storage in wetlands.”

Blackburn said SSPEED’s goal is to propose policy options to decision makers at the state, local and federal level with an unbiased assessment of the economic and environmental costs and benefits of all approaches so that an informed decision on the future of the region can be made.

“And make no mistake about it – the solutions that are chosen to deal with this flood-surge problem will determine the landscape of the future for the upper Texas coast,” Blackburn said.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
TD TS 1 2 3 4 5
English: 1900 Galveston hurricane track. Uses the color scheme from the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.
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90 thoughts on “Study concludes: "major hurricane could devastate the Houston/Galveston region"

  1. Silly.
    Living here in Houston for the last 16 years, it’s pretty apparent that a hurricane can cause major damage. No power for 10 days after Ike two years ago seems to be more of an indicator than the modeling. Why does one need a model to tell you this? Just remembering the tropical storms (pretty large loss of life as well in 2001) and hurricanes on the gulf coast since I’ve been here says enough.
    Really, nothing more than more scare tactics about how ‘hot’ the sea surface temperature is and how global warming will crush Houston. I’m more concerned about the oil that will be pushed up WAY on shore during a tropical storm at this point, then the storm itself.
    Jerry

  2. These areas are extraordinarily unprepared for a major Hurricane. That is when you will see the 500 year flood zone stressed as well as the complete inadequacy of building codes and architectural design. Those glass towers will turn into death. And it is not just Houston. Honolulu will be in exactly the same fix.

  3. With the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season less than a week away, a new analysis from experts at several Texas universities is warning that a major hurricane could devastate the Houston/Galveston region.

    Meanwhile experts predict that there may or may not be a serious earthquake somewhere in the world soon or possibly in the distant future, probably in or very near an earthquake zone but possibly elsewhere.
    Rain is also forecast for the UK.

  4. Just knew there had to be some Aggies involved. I hope Texas Tech didn’t have anything to do with it. My daughter starts there in the fall.

  5. “but this didn’t require a multi-university consortium and a supercomputer model to figure out.”
    Not to mention copious amounts of grant money. Appalling to see funds frittered away on this kind of nonsense that could be applied to a multitude of other areas to better scientific understanding.

  6. Time for them to focus on Part 2 of their study: Category 3 or higher Hurricane could devastate Louisiana and Mississippi.

  7. “Ike was a Category 2 hurricane, and it caused $30 billion in damage.”
    Yes, Ike was a cat 2, but it was a strong cat 2, just barely below cat 3. But you have to look past the wind speeds. Ike was massive, and had a lot of energy. After Ike, many hurricane experts started proposing updates to the Saffir-Simpson scale because they didn’t feel it adequately reflected Ike’s true power.
    My point is that it’s possible for storms to be more powerful than Ike, but not by very much. And Houston survived Ike quite well (the parts of Galveston not protected by the seawall is another story). After going through Ike, I’m not as concerned about hurricanes as I used to be. You leave, you come back, you live without electricity for awhile, you fix everything and then get on with your life. I don’t expect Houston to be “devastated” during my lifetime.

  8. If you would build with concrete there would be no problem but also no business for the insurance companies and wooden house builders. So enjoy it!

  9. Take a look at the historical hurricane tracks vs. population density on the Texas Gulf coast. Hurricanes NEVER hit unpopulated areas. A study of this phenomenon might yield some useful results. And confirm UHI.
    1919 Indianola was unpopulated afterwards, but that don’t count.
    Just sayin’.

  10. “■There is a “major disconnect” between the level of coastal flooding that would be caused by a major hurricane and the 100-year floodplains that flood insurance is based upon.”
    Houston, YOU have a problem. A massive increase in insurance rates may be the biggest impact of this study

  11. I really think that there are things more devasting than hurricanes: Green Policies.

  12. OT but at least one politician may have her head screwed on straight or, perhaps, has listened to some voters instead of the usual crowd of alarmists!
    “Connecticut governor vetoes energy reform bill
    HARTFORD, Conn.
    Gov. M. Jodi Rell has vetoed a massive bill that would have overhauled Connecticut’ energy policy, saying the legislation would have led to higher rates for electric customers.
    Rell vetoed the 129-page bill on Tuesday, as expected.
    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9FUHC7O1.htm

  13. A major hurricane will devastate any area it hits . It’s almost time to start watching “Tropical Update” a couple of times a day – too bad that TWC is the only game in town ( over the top agw bias ) .
    Anthony , I’m about to get a new laptop . Does Storm Predator require Pentium , or is it compatible with with whatever HP uses ? Thanks .

    REPLY:
    It works with whatever CPU you have, any OS From Win XP on, though do yourself a favor and don’t get Vista. Windows 7 is well done and works much better. – A

  14. Jim Blackburn’s not a researcher, he’s a Marxist Law professor. Just look at this jargon laden sentence.
    “Blackburn said SSPEED’s goal is to propose policy options to decision makers at the state, local and federal level with an unbiased assessment of the economic and environmental costs and benefits of all approaches so that an informed decision on the future of the region can be made.”
    This study is not about protecting human life. Its all about using scare tactics to further Marxist goals, namely the elimination of private property rights, one parcel at a time.

  15. Galveston is on there how many times?
    Next study… “Building vulnerable cities where hurricanes hit…a mistake?”.

  16. I have a hunch that a volcano could erupt in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and kill thousands of extras. May I have a major grant to study the problem? (Hey, it could happen; I saw it in a movie once!)

  17. “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself” and a few tens of thousands of irresponsible idiots who wish to profit from our fear. It seems very apparent, during these days of severe economic disruption and excessive government borrowing and soon to be horrendous taxation, that we can do ourselves an awful lot of good by eliminating an awful lot of government studies and other very wasteful give-aways. Hummmmm… wonder if it would be only just that easy? You don’t suppose that all the idiots at NOAA and NASA and the UN, and a thousand other little deadbeat outfits around the world, would have any trouble finding another job if we put them on the unemployment list, do you? After all, as smart as they claim to be, they’d probably get a job way before some truck driver or plumber, right? So, what say you? Are you game?

  18. Cost is a bad method for assessing the impact and damage of a hurricane. If the area that the hurricane hits is already appropriately prepared for it, the cost of the damage will be less. Ike darn near devastated Galveston and did some serious damage in Houston, yet doesn’t blip on this chart b/c the cities of Houston and Galveston were much better prepared than the cities (in their day and age) on this chart.

  19. Numerous reports have mentioned that the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season is rapidly approaching. That, however, is a date and of no real consequence. When the first hurricane forms in the Atlantic Ocean let me know.
    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ No tropical cyclones at this time

  20. Study concludes: “major hurricane could devastate the Houston/Galveston region”
    When?
    Mike in Houston

  21. Anything to appear even slightest bit relevant… and if its not spent this year, it comes off of next years tax payer stipend.

  22. What has three legs and could kill you if it fell on you out of a tree?
    Answer… a grand piano.
    Of course a hurricane COULD devastate …. wherever. What a non-issue.

  23. In other news Providence RI has been put on a state of high alert after they simulated the 1938 hurricane.

  24. In the UK, panic about floods and a too broadbrush mapping of possible flood areas by the Dept of Environment (I think it was) has resulted in some folk not being able to get house insurance at all, despite no actual likelihood of there particular house flooding…. this “study” good for insurance hikes, surely!

  25. With the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season less than a week away,
    There is no magic switch that prevents hurricanes before June 1, and none that causes them after June 1. June and July are often quite quiet – August, September, and October are when the real action happens. See http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pastprofile.shtml for a frequency plot and many good other images.
    Early hurricanes tend to form in the Gulf of Mexico, it takes a while for the eastern Atlantic to warm up before the major Cape Verge hurricanes get going.
    “And make no mistake about it – the solutions that are chosen to deal with this flood-surge problem will determine the landscape of the future for the upper Texas coast,” Blackburn said.
    More likely it will be the hurricanes that determine the landscape of the future.
    One thing that’s intriguing about the high activity period that started in 1995 is that New England has been largely spared so far. I don’t know if that’s just luck or if something else is involved.
    In the last high activity period, we had:
    * 1953 September – Hurricane Carol (the First)-category one. Maine landfall with considerable wind losses in Eastport, Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. This hurricane was eclipsed by the extreme damage of another Carol (the second) the very next year.135 mph at Block Island, R.I. and 125 at Milton, Ma.
    * 1954 August – Hurricane Carol – category 3- wind gusts of category four strength in southeast Rhode Island and south coastal Massachusetts in the Buzzards Bay area west of Cape Cod. 60 killed. Extreme damage in coastal south Rhode island and south coastal Massachusetts. Buzzards Bay damage rivaled 1938 storm.
    * 1954 September – Hurricane Edna – second category 3 hurricane in two weeks in New England made two landfalls, eye over Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod then again on coast of Maine where very severe losses occurred. Winds recorded at the hourly reading at 90 mph New Bedford Airport, New Bedford, Ma; 100 mph at Taunton, Ma. 112 mph at Milton Ma, and 125 mph at Chilmark, Marthas Vineyard Island.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_England_hurricanes

  26. DesertYote says:
    May 28, 2010 at 10:01 am
    Jim Blackburn’s not a researcher, he’s a Marxist Law professor.
    Where’s the jargon in his statement? “costs” “benefits” “informed decision”? How the heck is that Marxist? Wanting to protect people from hurricanes is Marxist?

  27. FWIW , I live on the Southeast coast , and tropical systems do pop up early in the season , although it’s rare . It pays to keep an eye on things , especially since it won’t take a major hurricane to do a tremendous amount of damage around these parts .
    Anthony , thanks for the info .

  28. Okay, where do I go to get paid by this group? I have known this little nugget of information since I was a kid.

  29. Well damn.Next they are going to be telling us that hurricanes start in the south Atlantic and move north towards land!Build a fence around Cuba to stop them!Hint for the stupid.You build on or below sealevel,you get flooded.Oh.And here in Edmonton,we may have a hurricane next year…NOT.The only crap we get here is from yukaflux parties.

  30. OMG! Luckily my grandparents are dead or else they might be killed by this possible, future storm. Phew!

  31. The chart of top 10 costliest U S Atlantic hurricanes shows only 2 after 1979.
    Did someone forget to Manipulate the data to get it to conform to the idea that we should be having bigger and stronger storms since 1979?

  32. It seems you didn’t put your whole heart into your conclusion.
    Here’s a more, per the day, proper reasoning:
    So one major hurricane could essentially wipe out half of US population in one swell swoop.
    Some 150 million people left dead or dying!
    With a more proper, per the day, conclusion: O M F G ! ! !
    Save yourselves … 😉

  33. When these kind of c*ap analysis are published, it means too much government funding going down. Time to cut back the climate funding hose from “full stop on” to “normal”.

  34. Glad someone else’s reaction was “duh”. Anyone with any knowledge of hurricane history would realize that the Houston / Galveston area is one of the most at risk areas. Combining likelihood with how devastating a storm could be, the most at risk areas are probably New Orleans, Miami, Houston / Galveston, Tampa Bay, and New York/ New Jersey/Connecticut, Maybe someone will actually do something to improve the protections in the area instead of doing nothing like happened in New Orleans when everyone with a clue knew the devastation that could happen.

  35. We moved from Seabrook (a southern suburb of Houston) about 9 years ago when I looked closely at a hurricane map that showed our town house would be under 20 ft of water during a Cat 1 Hurricane. Knowing that would happen with reasonable certainty we decided Denver was safer. (I was also tired of running the AC 10 months out of 12). Anyone in the Houston area that isn’t aware of the danger is simply not paying attention.
    This study didn’t add anything one could not have determined for themselves.

  36. Before Katrina, the USGS rated New Orleans as the most likely place in the USA for a natural disaster to cause major damage and loss of life. As far as I know, they used no supercomputer to figure that out. Nobody paid attention.

  37. Ric Werme says:
    May 28, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Yes New England could be hit – but if a group of universities want to make headlines they need to talk about the cost of a cat 3 hurricane landfall just East of Long Island onto Manhattan. All too possible and the costs of wind damage and a constrained storm surge would make even Texan eyes water.
    This kind of doom research is easy – but there are better odds of an asteroid impacting Earth than there are of winning even a small state lottery. The difference is that with some ‘dooms’ there are things that can be taxed and with others all that can be done is to worry. Politicians like taxable dooms and will sponsor as much research as is necessary to make them public or private cash cows.

  38. Hmmmm. Strange.
    Didnt anybody notice which country that hurricane will wipe out first?
    Cuba. Lots of marxists there. Strange the AGW’ers dont give a warning to Cuba?

  39. [snip – not interested in your personal labeling of this blog and the people who visit it – if you don’t like it here don’t visit. I don’t take kindly to your use of the publicly funded EPA network on the taxpayers dime to disparage citizens with ad hominem attacks. – Anthony]

  40. This didn’t strike me the way it apparently strikes many of you. I’ve been involved (on a small scale) in emergency planning related to natural disasters, and this kind of information can be extremely helpful. Even if many of the conclusions seem obvious, it’s useful to have a lot of information consolidated into a single report. Also, please note that the authors are trying to anticipate conditions under an extremely severe storm scenario, so that reasonable steps to minimize damage from such a storm can be identified and implemented well beforehand. One of the things you have to do in order to make these preparations is to inform and persuade people at many different political levels, and a document like this can be useful in that respect as well. If the state of Louisiana had conducted a study like this ten years ago, and actually acted on the results, New Orleans might be in better shape today.

  41. Let’s have some “linear fit fun” with the top ten hurricane hits just the like warmists do with their trendlines:
    Using a bin size of 22 years, I get the following numbers ($billions in 2005):
    1900-1921 = 167.4
    1922-1943 = 229.8
    1944-1965 = 65.5
    1966-1987 = 21.2
    1988-2009 = 136.8
    That gives a slope of -1.22 $bil/yr, so obviously storm damage must be going down, disproving that claim of CAGW! (Note, using a bin size of 10 yrs and starting with 1900, the slope is -0.71 $bil/yr). The 95% confidence interval crosses into positive values, but who cares, LOL!
    In all seriousness though, here’s some “hard evidence” to use against those that claim Katrina was caused by CAGW.
    -Scott

  42. My response to this news is “No shet!” It takes millions to take a firm grasp of the obvious?

  43. How to avoid problems like this in the future.
    Step 1. Evacuate the faculty from all major universities NOW before its too late.
    Step 2. Replace them with non-idiots.
    Step 3. Act prudently, relax. You are in no more danger than you were before the study wasted so much money.

  44. First time poster. Long time admirer…
    I agree with Robert Kral. Why pick on this study?
    This from the press release: “Our team is taking an in-depth, scientific look at structural proposals like the Ike Dike and other dike solutions, as well as nonstructural proposals related to land use,” …
    Do we not want to inventory our vulnerabilities? Can a model not provide some engineering guidance?
    REPLY: As I said in the lead in, I’m all for hurricane safety, but when you headline via press release something coming out of a computer model that is already a known i.e. “100 billion for a hit on Houston” it deserves some ribbing. -A

  45. Issac’s Storm was a good read. Especially the part where the Cubans in Havana had a better sense of the hurricane than the Americans, after all they had been in the Hurricane business a lot longer.

  46. Off Topic: Anthony, I couldn’t get your tips section to work so here goes:
    I am in no way qualified to evaluate this article or its supporting documents but I’ve read it and find it very, VERY interesting. Particularily some of the references. So I’m passing it on so that more educated eyes than mine can check it out. Concerns NASA and their black body calculations and thermodynamic assumptios.
    http://climaterealists.com/?id=5783

  47. Did I miss something? Where does it talk about modelling and supercomputers?
    REPLY: yes you did, here’s the connection -A
    Ike was a Category 2 hurricane, and it caused $30 billion in damage. Had that same storm struck 30 miles farther south, it could easily have caused $100 billion in damage.
    Bedient said that based upon results from supercomputer models at the University of Texas, Austin, Ike could have caused a 20- to 25-foot storm surge along the ship channel if it had struck about 30 miles farther south.

  48. Does a hurricane generate weight?
    It does push water ahead of it, so gravity must pull down on it.

  49. There was a very good book written about it.
    It was interesting to read, in these days of “tsunami” fixated weather forecasters,
    that although most of the deaths were by water, there was never a tidal wave.
    The book relates how, in the teeth of the high winds, the sea water just slowly rose, and rose, and rose….until it was past the first floors of houses.
    The Wiki report gives a pointer to this when it says there was extended periods of Easterly winds, which of course could well cause a sea water rise.

  50. Climate change may raise sea levels 16 inches in a hundred years. We are told we need to spend trillions to stop this danger. New York City’s mayor and Senators agree. A Category 2 hurricane that hit NYC in 1893 sent a 30 foot storm surge- at low tide- across Brooklyn and Queens. How much are we spending on infrastructure improvements to get ready for the next one? Next to nothing. When is the next one- NOAA says we are due for a Cat 3. The last Cat 3 hit western Long Island in 1938 fortunately it was sparsely populated at the time as the storm surge washed across it.
    A Cat 3 storm once passing Hatteras (due to some weather/hydrodynamic factors I don’t understand) picks up tremendous forward speed that can exceed 60 miles an hour. This forward speed when added to the wind speed makes a northeast hurricane pack more punch per category. The forward speed also makes evacuation of the City practically impossible. Skyscrapers make hurricanes more problematic as wind speeds are twice ground speed at 30 stories. The concern is that as some of the older windows are “sucked out” of their frames- flying office furniture will start a chain reaction of raining glass. And the scenarios just get worse. The NYC hurricane plan is basically an admission we’re screwed.
    If New York elected officials do nothing about this near term and more probable threat- why should I believe them when they want to spend us into oblivion to protect us from a threat 100 years from now?

  51. WOW. Just what in the PR suggests AGW advocacy behind the study. I see no claim the study modeled changing likelihood of hurricane strike location or storm severity. Nor do I see any basis for inference the study was funded with tax dollars.
    From the press release,
    <
    The new report comes from an ongoing two-year study commissioned from SSPEED in 2009 by the nonprofit Houston Endowment. SSPEED has assembled a team of more than a dozen leading experts from Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, the University of Houston, Texas Southern University and several other institutions to examine flood risks, evacuation readiness, industrial vulnerability and both structural and nonstructural approaches for mitigating storm impact.
    <
    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Endowment_Inc.,
    <
    Houston Endowment Inc. was founded in 1937 by Jesse H. Jones and Mary Gibbs Jones as an extension of their personal philanthropy to help establish institutions and organizations that help facilitate the growth of Houston and develop its people. It was the principal beneficiary of Jesse and Mary Jones' estates after their deaths.
    <
    And, the study objective(s) were stated clearly in the press release.
    <
    Blackburn said SSPEED's goal is to propose policy options to decision makers at the state, local and federal level with an unbiased assessment of the economic and environmental costs and benefits of all approaches so that an informed decision on the future of the region can be made.
    <
    REPLY: Well you missed the point, if you headline a press release with “Houston could be devastated by major hurricane” doesn’t that scream of overstating the obvious to you? And, last time I checked, the listed “Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, the University of Houston, Texas Southern University and several other institutions” are publicly funded. I’m sure the use of these facilities and staff qualify for publix use of tax dollars. Now if the PR said it was done entirely by the non profit NGO, that would be clearly not connected to publicly funded facilities in any way.
    The whole point is the ridiculously obvious headline and overstating the obvious using a computer model to determine what is already known from history, but you miss that. – A

  52. Not exactly a major prediction. If they told me that a major hurricane could devastate say for example Pittsburgh…….and it happened, I’d be all in for modeling.

  53. “results from supercomputer models at the University of Texas, Austin, Ike could have caused a 20- to 25-foot storm surge along the ship channel”
    Well, that’s just routine CFD analysis of coastal structures – probably just from a published paper. I can’t see any indication that this report is based on modelling or supercomputers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.
    REPLY: There’s plenty wrong with it when it wastes taxpayer money to produce a result so obvious and with historical precedent that you can find the exact same damage number on Wikipedia for a hurricane in the past. But you can’t see that, like you couldn’t see the words modeling and supercomputer at first. -A

  54. This is part of the media setting the American people up for a Global Warming scare. Houston/Galveston has always been set for devastation from a hurricane. Ask the people in 1900. If you read this story http://wp.me/pduTk-2G4 then you see a collection of headlines relating to hurricane forecasts. They all scream that it could be the worst ever when NONE of the forecasts actually says any such thing. They made it up. They also do not let the public know that forecasts for other tropical basins near Australia, the NW Pacific and the Eastern Pacific are for average or below average activity. Maybe the best part is the reference to the public policy think tank that used a monkey to make a forecast to illustrate just how little humans know about the climate of the earth and that any long term forecasts of any type should be held with some skepticism. Either the media is dumb, ill-informed or deliberately trying to create news that is not there.

  55. The people living in Houston/Galveston are already fully aware of the risk of further hurricanes and I’m sure most of the sensible ones monitor the warnings and exit stage left quickly when events dictate. I’ve got a friend who lives in a town on the flank of Vesuvius, and he never lets the tank on his 4X4 get less than 1/2 empty and has a case ready packed with his personal stuff, ready for if the worst should happen.
    People all over the world live in situations where life threatening situations are probable, and I don’t think they need the output of a model running on a supercomputer to tell them of the risk. Common sense is all that’s needed!

  56. Yep, another study released in order to justify the funding.
    I hope it wasn’t my money.
    Stimulus money?
    Never mind, that’s my money too.

  57. Regarding 100 year floodplain vs storm surge levels for flood insurance I seem to recall people with flood insurance fighting insurance companies in Mississippi after Katrina. The insurance companies claimed the storm surge was not “rising water” and therefor denied the claims. Not sure how that fight ended.

  58. I have two brothers in Houston, they made it through Ike, by staying put. They looked at the traffic in the evacuation and just got another blanket out of the closet just in case — And sat with the flashlights and radio. They said, near every glass window downtown, popped out onto the streets.
    The big problem was evacuation, I think it was something like 60 people died in car crashes trying to run away.

  59. Hey a major hurricane would make a hell of a mess up here in San Francisco Bay too; so who cares about Galveston.
    Gee these people are dumber than a box of rocks; what do you think a cat five slamming right into New Orleans would do right now; wouldn’t that be a mess too ?
    The inmates are running the asylum; I believe In Germany, they call it a “Crankenhaus.” Sounds about par for the course to me. I actually drove past a Crankenhaus on my one trip to Germany (Bavaria).

  60. Golly; I wonder if that is supposed to be Krankenhaus. Well take your pick. I’m not much good at this.

  61. Krankenhaus has a better ring to it. Must amend my previous post on storm surge. After taking a quick look back the debate was over wind damage vs storm surge damage. Claimants (who did not have flood insurance) were told the damage was from flooding – not wind. Homeowners argued that the wind caused the flooding (storm surge). The insurance agents told them (alledgedly) they did not need federal flood insurance because they were not in the 100 year floodplain. The houses were destroyed by the storm and the wind pushed the water so it is debatable.

  62. Anthony,
    I had been looking for some indication that “A major hurricane could devastate the Houston/Galveston region? Whooda thunk? Thank goodness they consulted the all knowing supercomputer model to figure this fact out”. There was none. I missed that they had looked up a paper which used modelling to predict the size of waves on the Houston Ship Channel.
    And funding from Houston Endowment Inc is no more taxpayers money than, say, from the Heartland Institute.
    REPLY: Perhaps, but the universities that did the work are publicly funded. If the Houston Endowment did all the work themselves, then there would be no use of public “anything”.
    Point is, money was spent, public facilities and staff were used, and all they had to show for it was a study that overstates the already blindingly obvious. If Heartland funded something and the resulting headline was equally silly, you’d be having a cow. So chill dude, enjoy the weekend, embrace your wrongness. 😉 -A

  63. When I lived in Houston, a three inch rain could result in flooding in some parts. If a tropical storm dropped 12 to 24 inches of water, we were in big trouble. Almost any direct hit from a significant hurricane would be catastrophic.
    My question is why do Texas officials not protect the ship channel area better. We all knew what storm surges could do, but there’s not a lot they can do about flooding due to rainfall. The terrain is as flat as a pancake, and water has almost no place to go. If streams and rivers are backed up with a storm surge, you would have a wading pool of several hundred square miles.
    It looks to me that the reason for so many universities to participate is because of Texas politics. With a study involving Houston you have to include the University of Houston, Rice, and Texas Southern, all headquartered in Houston.
    Plus, everybody knows that you can’t have an engineering study in Texas without the aggies from A&M doing their thing. So, how did the Univ of Texas get involved being located a hundred miles away, all snug and secure in the liberal environs of the hill country?
    It is kinda like the Alabama song, “If you are going to play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band”. You can’t have a respectable study without a super-computer, and UT has one.
    It’s only money, and all that academic talent has to be fed.

  64. “SSPEED has assembled a team of more than a dozen leading experts from Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, the University of Houston, Texas Southern University and several other institutions…”
    ====================
    It’s a “consensus”, if a Category 4 or 5 hurricane hits Houston/Galveston the best place to be is, somewhere else.
    Everybody already knew, that.
    Lowering CO2 will make them go away, right?

  65. Using a little Roger Piekle data on hurricanes….the costliest hurricane to make landfall in Texas is about $99.4 billion. 95% of all Texas hurricanes caused less than $25.4 Billion and a most likely case of $424 million. So, $100 billion sounds like a pretty big number. Gotta scare up some funding some how.

  66. A 20 to 25 foot storm surge along the Ship Channel and western shore of Galveston Bay would not only exceed $100 billion in repairs but would probably cause a short-term US economic downturn.
    The reason, which is not widely known, is that the American petrochemical world is highly interdependent. Supplier A needs supplier B and supplier B needs supplier A. If A is shut down then B cannot run. If B is shut down then A cannot run. Lose them both for a month and exhaust global inventories and it becomes extremely difficult to restart them due to lack of key raw materials.
    Also, the industry uses things called cooling towers, which would be flattened in a bad storm. A 1000 cooling towers might be destroyed in the Houston area and take years to rebuild, due to the shortage of expertise. That affects the US economy. If the Big One approaches Houston, short the stock market.

  67. Robert Kral says:
    May 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    This didn’t strike me the way it apparently strikes many of you. I’ve been involved (on a small scale) in emergency planning related to natural disasters, and this kind of information can be extremely helpful. Even if many of the conclusions seem obvious, it’s useful to have a lot of information consolidated into a single report. Also, please note that the authors are trying to anticipate conditions under an extremely severe storm scenario, so that reasonable steps to minimize damage from such a storm can be identified and implemented well beforehand. One of the things you have to do in order to make these preparations is to inform and persuade people at many different political levels, and a document like this can be useful in that respect as well. If the state of Louisiana had conducted a study like this ten years ago, and actually acted on the results, New Orleans might be in better shape today.

    Really? Any ten-year old could have predicted that if a Cat 2-4 storm hit New Orleans the last forty years, the devastation would be disastrous. But no one wanted to act on that information and make the Mississippi’s cesspool viable, because it lives to just party down night and day. And, if Galveston and Houston fail to take appropriate action, the devastation there will be comparable.

  68. What will happen if a hurricane hits the Gulf oil slick? The power comes, IIRC , from the condensation of water vapour which releases latent heat. Will the oil make condensation happen more quickly, releasing the energy in one huge burst? I found a paper last week — 1977 — which showed rapid coalescence of oil polluted droplets in a lab experiment.
    Well, at least there’s someone to blame. Sell Amoco, BP, Haliburton….
    JF
    (My guess is it’ll make it swerve right through 120 degrees.)

  69. Anthony, I strongly suspect it is you missing the point rather than me. Headlining much larger damage potential of a hurricane striking Houston directly versus that experienced by a recent near miss is far afield of climate modeling or of AGW advocacy. Beyond the headline, press release content addresses adequacy of existing infrastructure for coping with a recurring natural phenomenon, and means of mitigating future damage through attention to land-use patterns, etc.
    Replace “Hurricane” with “Earthquake” in the press release headline and to me the PR body reads pretty much like what one might expect of a California study of earthquake damage potential and possible mitigation measures.
    Also, “Rice University is chartered as a non-profit organization and is owned and governed by a privately-appointed board of trustees.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_University)
    REPLY: We see the press release and background differently, not worth arguing about, nuff said. A

  70. The funny thing about this prediction is that it actually happened, and very nearly cost us WW2.
    I am an oldster who has been through Houston hurricanes since 1949, including several where we were without electricity for several weeks. Nothing surprizing about the flooding. Just remember that the worst we ever had for flooding was from a mere TS that dumped 44 inches in 24 hours. (Alvin – where the weather folks HQed)
    But back in August of 1943 Houston was really damaged.Cat2 storm came out of the Gulf and tracked right up the shipchannel. In the process it destroyed the loading docks in Baytown and damaged the refinery, then proceeded on into Houston proper.
    Now in ww2 Houston did not produce tanks or ships or planes. It just made the drilling equipment and housed the businesses that produced the oil to make them work. Little known fact, over 25% of all the oil used by the Allies (and that includes the big USSR Caucus fields) came from that small piece of land known as the East Texas Oil Field.
    Oil would be produced up there, piped south to Houston (Baytown), refined or just loaded as crude and shipped to New Jersey, and thense to England to stockpile for the invasion. Thus for us ww2 was over until the docks were back.
    Wipe out the loading docks and there would be no fuel to fight WW2. Lucky for us it was a small storm and not a big Cat5. We got everything running in a couple months (instead of years with a Cat5) and thus DDay could happen.
    If not for the luck of only “small” damage, the Red army would have marched through Germany, and been at Gibralter before before we could get enough fuel for the invasion across the pond.
    (The industry planners knew it was a weak strategic link — that was why the heroic effort was made to build the Big Inch pipleline beginning in 1940 that finally reached New Jersey in 1945.)
    Why do you not know about this storm. Simple, it was a military secret. Censorship was imposed on the papers, telegraph lines and telephes to keep the rest of the country in total ignorance to the fact that we might lose ww2 (to the Russians). Thus the name for the storm locally. The Hurricane that never was.

  71. As I had said before, this study has nothing to do with science or protecting human life. Its merely a political tool to use fear to push a Marxist agenda. How can anyone give credence to anything authored by this guy?
    “Mr. Blackburn is a Houston-based environmental attorney with a practice including toxic torts litigation and community group representation. His work with grassroots organizations has included a variety of cases, ranging from wetland, flooding, dam, hazardous waste, landfill, wastewater and air emission controversies. He has also participated in land use planning and design studies, taught environmental law and planning courses at Rice University and the University of Houston, and helped establish several conservation groups, including the Galveston Bay Foundation and the Matagorda Bay Foundation. Recently, he has written a book about the wonders and protection of the Texas coast, The Book of Texas Bays.”

  72. My look-backs would suggest Florida and the North Caribbean is most at risk this season. Gulf coast hits would be more likely towards Texas and Mexico.

  73. John Baltusi- You said: Really? Any ten-year old could have predicted that if a Cat 2-4 storm hit New Orleans the last forty years, the devastation would be disastrous.
    You’re missing my point. Obviously many people recognized the risk of devastating damage if a major hurricane hit New Orleans. However, the politicians responsible for emergency planning and other preparations did not act on this knowledge. There’s no question that the people of New Orleans were very poorly served by their alleged leaders (although they re-elected Ray Nagin, so I have less sympathy for them than I once did). If a document like this had been available at the time, and widely publicized, it might have helped to muster some political will to actually do something.
    As noted by another reader, Rice is not a public university though they certainly get thier share of federal grant money.

  74. I see that they held a “workshop” to discuss this. I always thought that a workshop is a place where industrious people make things, not a gathering of the idle and over paid discussing the bleedin’ obvious. Next they will be be telling us the Pope is a Catholic.

  75. So when an inevitably nasty hurricane hits the area one of these days, no doubt these prophetic schmucks will take the credit for saying “we told you so” ?
    Me :
    “There’s going to be a violent thunderstorm in the New York region sometime this summer.”
    3 months later :
    I told you so.
    Just send my cheque in the mail, thank you and have a nice day.

  76. Perhaps when they have weatherproofed Galveston they could have a look at remedial action for the San Andreas Fault. Must be a university in Los Angeles that could do with some grant money.

  77. Pascvaks says:
    May 28, 2010 at 10:14 am
    “…. It seems very apparent, during these days of severe economic disruption and excessive government borrowing and soon to be horrendous taxation, that we can do ourselves an awful lot of good by eliminating an awful lot of government studies and other very wasteful give-aways. Hummmmm… wonder if it would be only just that easy?….”
    __________________________________________________________________________
    You forgot one tiny but very important point.
    100% of my US tax dollars go to pay interest on the fiat (fake) money the banks “loaned” (printed) for the US government. Those same bankers OWN the politicians. If they did not we would have thrown the Federal Reserve Banks under the bus in 1933. Instead Congressman McFadden was assassinated and the US government confiscated private citizens gold and give it to the banks . Citizens got drab looking pieces of paper and eternal serfdom in exchange.
    On May 23, 1933, Congressman, Louis T. McFadden, brought formal charges against the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank system, The Comptroller of the Currency and the Secretary of United States Treasury for numerous criminal acts, including but not limited to, CONSPIRACY, FRAUD, UNLAWFUL CONVERSION, AND TREASON.
    The petition for Articles of Impeachment was thereafter referred to the Judiciary Committee and has YET TO BE ACTED ON.

    Congressman McFadden on the Federal Reserve Corporation Remarks in Congress, 1934 text
    “…”Mr. Chairman, we have in this Country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks, hereinafter called the Fed. The Fed has cheated the Government of these United States and the people of the United States out of enough money to pay the Nation’s debt. The depredations and iniquities of the Fed has cost enough money to pay the National debt several times over.
    Congressman McFadden’s Speech On the Federal Reserve Corporation made on the Floor of the House of Representatives
    “This evil institution has impoverished and ruined the people of these United States, has bankrupted itself, and has practically bankrupted our Government. It has done this through the defects of the law under which it operates, through the maladministration of that law by the Fed and through the corrupt practices of the moneyed vultures who control it.
    This evil institution has impoverished and ruined the people of these United States, has bankrupted itself, and has practically bankrupted our Government. It has done this through the defects of the law under which it operates, through the maladministration of that law by the Fed and through the corrupt practices of the moneyed vultures who control it…
    “Some people who think that the Federal Reserve Banks United States Government institutions. They are private monopolies which prey upon the people of these United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; and rich and predatory money lender.
    “The United States has been ransacked and pillaged. Our structures have been gutted and only the walls are left standing. While being perpetrated, everything the world would rake up to sell us was brought in here at our expense by the Fed until our markets were swamped with unneeded and unwanted imported goods priced far above their value and make to equal the dollar volume of our honest exports, and to kill or reduce our favorite balance of trade. As Agents of the foreign central banks the Fed try by every means in their power to reduce our favorable balance of trade. They act for their foreign principal and they accept fees from foreigners for acting against the best interests of these United States. Naturally there has been great competition among among foreigners for the favors of the Fed….”

    Gee sounds familiar doesn’t it?
    McFadden’s Speech is well worth a read. We should send it to ALL politicians were a central bank is in control (most countries) Unfortunately with the establishment of the international Financial Stability Board it may already be too late.
    “The Financial Stability Board (FSB) has been established to address vulnerabilities and to develop and implement strong regulatory, supervisory and other policies in the interest of financial stability. http://www.financialstabilityboard.org/
    Obama has already signed over control of the USA to this board. As well as doubling the US money supply (printing lots of money thereby halving the worth of your labor) The financial types figure there could be some major fallout from this idiotic move. See A Dollar Collapse for a fairly balanced look at the situation.
    Oh, yes do not forget that Maurice Strong, father of CAGW is a senior advisor to the World Bank.

  78. @Enneagram says:
    May 28, 2010 at 9:52 am
    Didn’t the three little pigs figure that out a long time ago?

  79. I’m not sure why WUWT is against attempts to providing policymakers with accurate information. Geography makes different coastal areas more or less sensitive to flooding from storm surge and rainfall. Hurricane Ike demonstated what a Category 2 storm does when it hits modern-day Houston dead on. (Since storm surge is worst to the right of the hurricane’s path, a path slightly to the left of Houston would have been worse.) Scientists can now show policymakers that they have models capable of accurately predicting the local areas to be flooded by hurricanes striking Texas at varying locations with varying intensity (and serious computing power makes predictions more accurate). Given the long historical record of hurricanes striking Texas, it should be possible to estimate that Houston will see another Ike every X years, an Enhanced-Ike every Y years, and a Super-Ike every Z years. Everyone knows that Galveston (or Key West or Cape Hatteras) is a dangerous place to be during a hurricane, but the danger to New Orleans was mostly hypothetical before Katrina. When policymakers don’t know whether the probability of disastrous hurricane damage is once every 25 years or once every 250 years, the are unlikely to take action unless they have recently experienced a disaster. Was Katrina a once-every-25-years event that New Orleans was lucky enough to miss for more than a century or a once-every-250-years event? I’d certainly spend a lot more money trying to avoid the former.

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