Dr. Jeff Masters has bad news for my people:
While this is cause for some relief, Rita, like her weaker sister Katrina did, will still bring a Category 5 level storm surge along a 60 – 80 miles stretch of coast to the right of where the storm makes landfall on Saturday. Storm surge heights will peak at 20 – 25 feet in some bays, and bring the ocean inland up to 50 miles from the coast. Large sections of I-10 between Houston and Beaumont will be inundated, and the flood waters will reach the cities of Beaumont, Orange, and Lake Charles. Wind damage will be severe, and Houston can expect a hazardous rain of glass from its high rise building like was experienced during Hurricane Alicia in 1983. If the eye passes just west of Galveston Bay, the storm surge will push 1 – 3 of water into some of Houston’s eastern suburbs, such as Deer Park.
Beaumont, Orange, and Lake Charles are more commonly referred to here as “my old stomping grounds.” I expect that my whole family will be evacuating given this news.
Update: Updates on Rita throughout the day have pointed to an increased likelihood that the eye of the storm will come ashore near the Texas-Louisiana border. My immediate family has evacuated Orange and headed north to Longview. Fortunately traffic along the highways heading north out of Orange was not nearly as bad as the footage we’re seeing from Houston.