Hurricane Harvey: Storm Roars Ashore Near Corpus Christi, Tex. – New York Times
Read more on the storm here.
• Hurricane Harvey, powered by the Gulf of Mexico’s warm waters, made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane at about 9:45 p.m. Friday, earlier than expected. It came ashore just northeast of Corpus Christi, Tex., packing 130 m.p.h. winds.
• While the extent of the devastation was not yet known, emergency officials reported heavy building damage in Port Aransas and in Rockport on Saturday, with shredded trees and blown-off roofs. About 250,000 customers were without power statewide, a number likely to grow.
• The hurricane has been downgraded to a Category 1, with 90 m.p.h. winds.
• The storm is expected to maintain tropical storm strength for at least four days, bringing heavy rains and flooding, especially if part of its remains over water.
#Harvey officially makes landfall with 130 MPH sust. winds and central pressure of 27.70 inHg, unfort. ending U.S. major hurricane drought. pic.twitter.com/BYkJITP2Wk
• President Trump signed a disaster proclamation, allocating federal funds for state and local relief efforts.
• Follow Times correspondents tracking the storm on Twitter: @mannyNYT in Corpus Christi, @alanblinder, @julieturkewitz and @ckrausss in Houston, @viaSimonRomero in Albuquerque, N.M., and @jswatz in New York.
• Are you in an affected area? If you are safe, and are able to, please share your photos and videos with us.
Hundreds of thousands are without power.
The storm remained a hurricane well after landfall, and conditions, including tornado warnings, made it difficult for the authorities to begin even preliminary damage assessments.
More than 250,000 customers were without electricity early Saturday, a figure that was likely to increase. Corpus Christi urged people who were still in the city to boil water.
But images and videos on social media showed substantial damage to buildings, including roofs and walls pulled away. Power lines were toppled, and phone service was down.
Early rainfall totals were staggering. The National Hurricane Center said that an automated rain gauge near Victoria, a city of about 68,000 in the path of the storm, had recorded more than 16 inches in 24 hours.
As rains picked up in Houston before daybreak on Saturday, the lights began to blink and, in some areas, go out. The city’s roads, largely quiet since Friday evening, were almost entirely empty. — ALAN BLINDER in Houston
Rockport, in storm’s path, took a hit.
One of the cities hard hit by the storm was Rockport, a coastal city of about 10,000 that was in the hurricane’s path when it came ashore.
Officials there told The Associated Press that the roof of Rockport’s high school had partially caved in and that the community’s historic downtown had seen extensive damage.
The city manager, Kevin Carruth, told local media outlets that multiple people had been taken to the county’s jail for assessment and treatment after the roof of a senior housing complex collapsed. KIII-TV reported that 10 people were treated there. The courthouse had also been severely damaged.
Earlier Friday, the city’s mayor pro tem Patrick Rios had offered some ominous advice, telling the local media that those who chose to stay put rather than evacuate the area “should make some type of preparation to mark their arm with a Sharpie pen,” implying doing so would make it easier for rescuers to identify them.
Shelters were readied for evacuees.
As thousands of coastal residents were ordered to evacuate on Friday, and others chose to leave on their own, inland cities welcomed an influx of evacuees on Friday.
Gov. Greg Abbott said the state government was preparing to assist up to 41,000 evacuees. As many as 54 shelters would be open, officials said, with the potential for that number to grow.
Dallas opened a shelter for up to 500 people, and was ready to open two more if needed, officials there said.
“We are prepared to handle much more than we are right now,” said Rocky Vaz, director of the Dallas Office of Emergency Management.
In Austin, the American Red Cross scheduled an “urgent shelter volunteer training” session on Friday as officials prepared for more evacuees to arrive.
And in San Antonio, more than 150 people were being housed at a former elementary school as of Friday morning, according to the local news station KSAT-TV. Many of those seeking shelter had arrived by bus.
San Antonio was also bracing for a possible uptick in homeless pets, and was offering incentives for people to help clear space in local animal shelters.
On Friday afternoon, Mr. Abbott urged those in the storm’s path to flee to safety as soon as possible, warning that continued flooding after initial storm surges may close off escape routes. “You may find it is too late to be able to evacuate,” he said. — MITCH SMITH in Chicago and DAVE MONTGOMERY in Houston
On higher ground, ‘People are coming to me.’
At a Houston gas station Friday, David Santa was filling up his pickup truck. He was on his way home to the Woodlands, a suburb north of Houston. Having lived in the area since 1981, he has seen his share of hurricanes, tropical storms and floods. “If I lived south of Interstate 45, I would definitely evacuate,” he said. “But I’m up north. People are coming to me.” — MICHAEL HARDY in Houston
Predictions are plentiful. Why are some wrong?
One of the terms thrown around when a hurricane is approaching land is models — what do the models say will happen? Hurricane computer models turn the complex factors that govern storms into forecasts. There are a number of leading hurricane models, and their forecasts often conflict. The discrepancies are evident in what are known as “spaghetti models”: maps that show the results of multiple models and multiple data runs in what can be a tangled mess.
Some models in the case of Hurricane Harvey show stunningly high levels of rainfall in coming days: a run on Friday from the European model forecast as much as 60 inches of rainfall. J. Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia, warned against focusing on the most extreme examples presented by any single model or run.
“That’s one isolated run,” he said. “What we tend to do as meteorologists is look at what’s known as an ensemble,” or a blending of the runs to filter out what could be outliers. Focusing on one line in the spaghetti plot is a bad idea without greater context; “that might be the worst model in the batch,” he said.
Dr. Shepherd said that models have, in general, gotten better in recent years at forecasting the track of a storm, but have not done as well at predicting a storm’s intensity.
In the case of Harvey, he said, “they’ve all been pretty consistent with the messaging,” despite varying forecasts of rainfall amounts. “This thing is going to stall out” and dump prodigious amounts of water over Houston and much of the coast. And Houston has historically been a place that is easy to flood and hard to drain. — JOHN SCHWARTZ
The storm has rerouted some cruise ships.
Cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers and crew have been ordered to steer clear of the Port of Galveston. The port, which is less than 200 miles northeast of where the hurricane made landfall late Friday, was closed until the weather clears.
Carnival Cruise Line diverted three ships scheduled to arrive at the port this weekend. Rather than docking in Galveston on Saturday, Carnival Valor and Carnival Freedom were to stop in New Orleans to pick up fuel, water and food, then stay at sea until the weather clears. The 3,666 passengers on Freedom and the 3,628 passengers on Valor will be allowed to end their cruise and disembark in New Orleans, though Carnival is encouraging them to stay on board to avoid the difficulty of traveling back to Galveston on their own.
Carnival Breeze remained docked overnight in Cozumel, Mexico, and will set off for Texas in the afternoon, aiming to drop off its 4,660 passengers in Galveston on Sunday on schedule. In an alert, Carnival said it would dock its ships as soon as port officials reopen the port. However, “this is all fluid depending on what the storm is doing at the time,” said Christine de la Huerta, a Carnival spokeswoman.
Galveston is one of the busiest cruise-docking stops in the world and has the most passenger traffic in the country outside of Florida, according to the most recent annual report from Cruise Industry News. — TIFFANY HSU in New York
The new head of FEMA faces his first big test.
With the storm, the Trump administration faces its first test in dealing with a major natural disaster. The storm will also be the first major challenge for the Federal Emergency Management Agency under Brock Long, who was confirmed as director in June by the Senate.
Mr. Long was the director of Alabama’s disaster relief agency when Hurricane Katrina hit the state in 2005, and his selection has inspired confidence among lawmakers and state disaster relief officials.
Lanita Lloyd, the president of the International Association of Emergency Managers, a trade group, told The Times last month that Mr. Long was battle-tested.
“He’s someone we know and trust and will have the agency prepared for whatever disaster might hit.” Read more » — RON NIXON in Washington
Relationship between hurricanes and climate change is complex.
John Schwartz, who covers climate and the environment for The New York Times, writes that the relationship between hurricanes and climate change is not simple. Some things are known with growing certainty — rising sea levels makes storm surge worse. Others, not so much.
One of the still-unresolved questions, Mr. Schwartz writes, is whether climate change is affecting the number and the intensity of the storms. It could be making some stronger, and certainly wetter.
In the article, Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech and one of the authors of a sweeping climate science report, notes that scientists are not saying that hurricanes are necessarily caused by climate change, but are being affected by them.
“We care about a changing climate because it exacerbates the natural risks and hazards that we already face,” she said. “People always want to know is it climate change or is it not? The answer is it’s in between.” Read More
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