Friday Sep 12, 2008

I Like Ike

No, it is not a flashback to the 1952 presidential election. It is in reference to the latest severe storm to hit the US gulf states, Hurricane Ike. But the story actually starts about a decade ago, when my daughter was 5 years old. On the way home from school, my daughter asked me if we would ever have a hurricane. Dallas is about 400 miles inland at the closest point, so it is very unlikely that would ever happen. But my daughter inherited my fascination with severe weather and she wasn't going to leave it at that.

So we got out a map of the Gulf of Mexico and I showed her what would have to happen for a hurricane to track that far inland and still pack a punch.
  • The storm would have to make landfall somewhere near Galveston, Tx so that it had the shortest path. Since hurricanes lose their power very quickly over land, it had to be the shortest path.
  • When it made landfall it would have to be at least a strong category 3 if not a category 4.
  • There cannot be a strong low pressure trough to the west that would cause the storm to take an early turn east.

Satisfied with that, she has patiently waited for nearly a decade for that confluence of events to occur. The closest we came was with Hurricane Rita in September 2005 (note that hurricanes that hit the Texas shoreline happen in odd years - that's odd). But a frontal boundary to the west pushed Rita just east of us. We got wind - lots of wind, but little else. It was impressive to see the western edge of the storm as it was still a hurricane.

Hurricane Gustav earlier this year came close but stayed well east of the Dallas area. In fact we fell in between the storm bands and received only a few tablespoons of rain. The low pressure center did bring down a northern air mass that cooled temperatures considerably. And was quite welcome.

So that brings us to Ike. We've been watching Ike for the last two weeks as it made its way through the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. It looks to make landfall near Galveston as a rather strong category 2, perhaps even category 3. For the residents in the gulf this distinction means little as the storm surge will present the greatest problem. There was a strong low pressure trough to the west that would send Ike east of Dallas, but that appears to be weakening and moving north as Ike approaches. So perhaps Becca will get her wish.

Tropical Storm Warnings have already gone up in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, so tomorrow will be a good day to read a book, watch a bit of NCAA football. While still a bit on the warm side (93 F - 98 THI) the winds have shifted around to the east and are starting to pick up. That's the first indicator of the counterclockwise rotation of the air mass.

The irony of this story is with the projected path of the storm. Since the trough has retreated to the north, the revised path projection takes Ike over Denison Texas. What is the irony in this ? Do a wikepedia search on Dwight David Eisenhower and you will find that Ike's birthplace is Denison Texas. And now you know the rest of the story.

Send out your prayers and good thoughts to those in the path of Hurricane Ike and especially to those brave souls that perform first responder duties. The first responders that put themselves in harms way to help others are true heroes.

[Edited note]: Ike passed by the Dallas/Ft. Worth area without any incident. Nothing more than we typically get from a rainy April day. Our thoughts do go out to the folks in east and southeast Texas who were not as fortunate.

Bob Netherton is a Principal Sales Consultant for the North American Commercial Hardware group, specializing in Solaris, Virtualization and Engineered Systems. Bob is also a contributing author of Solaris 10 Virtualization Essentials.

This blog will contain information about all three, but primarily focused on topics for Solaris system administrators.

Please follow me on Twitter Facebook or send me email


« July 2016