Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Lovely Rita Meter Maid: Now With 165 MPH Winds

If anybody sees Fall, send it our way, would you?

September 21st and it's a hundred freaking degrees here. And has been for a week, pretty much. They're saying it's one of the ten hottest Septembers on record.

Oh, and there's that 160 mph Category 5 hurricane heading toward us. I don't want to forget to that.

You know the drill. Here's the satellite image link: Big freaking storm.

Now having a Cat 5 hurricane headed toward you when you're not flush on the coast is not nearly as dangerous. We're about 120 miles away from Port Arthur, which is the general consensus as to where the storm will make land. Even if it hits Port Arthur with 150 mph winds and heads straight for Austin, by the time it gets to us (8-10 hours later) the winds should be less than half that. So all we're at risk for are some downed trees, lots of lost shingles, and maybe a loss of electricity. Maybe a substantial mess, but not life-threatening.

I grew up six miles from Corpus Christi, though, which is right on the coast and also one of the possible landing points. It feels very strange to see my hometown (which I haven't visited in almost a decade) threatened by a Category 5 hurricane.

What people tend not to understand about hurricanes is that the damage is not linear. If you've never been through a hurricane, it would be easy to think that a storm with 150 mph winds would cause twice the damage of a storm with 75 mph winds. It's not like that, though. The increase in damage is exponential, not linear. So a storm with 150 mph winds might well cause twenty times the damage (or more) of a storm half as strong.

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