Monday, September 14, 2009
One year ago yesterday at 2:10AM CDT, hurricane Ike made landfall on Galveston Island. Ike was a strong category 2 storm that covered a tremendous amount of area in the Gulf of Mexico. Because of this, Ike produced a catastrophic storm surge one would expect from a Category 4 or higher storm. Ike will probably go down as the third costliest natural disaster in U.S. history behind Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew.
Ike began as a tropical wave off the African Coast and became a tropical depression on the morning of September 1st. Later that same afternoon Ike strengthened into a tropical storm. The rapid intensification of Ike continued over the next 72 hours with Ike reaching a category 4 status by the evening of the 4th with top winds of 145mph. On September 7th Ike hit the island of Great Inagua near the Curks and Caicos followed by western Cuba that evening. The higher terrain of Cuba helped weaken Ike to a top wind speed of 100 mph as he entered the Gulf of Mexico. However, the amount of real estate Ike possessed was tremendous. Just look at the size of Ike when the center of the storm was a few hundred miles south of Galveston.
He nearly takes up the entire Gulf of Mexico. It was Ike’s large area that enabled it produce such a large storm surge as water was funneled into the shallow waters of the Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake in the Northwest Gulf of Mexico. According to the National Hurricane Center the highest water mark from Ike’s storm surge was 17.5’ above mean sea level 10 miles inland across Chambers County. 20 lives were lost across the Gulf coast from Ike and another five lives were lost in Arkansas due to high winds. Right now the official damage total is around $19 billon making Ike the fourth costliest storm in U.S. history but once all insurance claims are taken care of, Ike will more than likely move up to number three on the list.