SFSignal Update

Just a quick update to let all our readers know what is going on regarding posting over the next week or so. As you may or may not know, the majority of posters to this site live in the Houston metropolitan area. Hurrican Rita is expected to make landfall just east of Houston sometime Friday night or Saturday morning. As a result, I haven’t been looking for neat SF info to bring you. I’m assuming the others have been busy as well. I’m also expecting us to lose power sometime in the next day or two so posting will be light if not non-existant until things return to normal.

I know that myself, Tim and Scott are all staying. I think Kevin is as well and I’m not sure about John. Things looked very scary last night as the hurricane track had Rite coming right over Galveston and on into Houston. The tracks now have Rita coming ashore further east, which is decent news for us in the NW Houston area. We’re hoping it keeps going that way so as to spare us the brunt of the winds.

So, I may be able to post something later on today or tomorrow once I’ve gotten all our preperations taken care of and it’s become a waiting game. Until then, stay safe everyone.

Update: For a really cool Google Earth hack using hurricane location info, check out FLHurrican.com. Very cool. But don’t trust their projected paths. I’m not sure how they do that, but it doesn’t fit with the NOAA guys.

Currently the storm is projected to make landfall east of us, nor forecasted to be near Port Aurthur, along the TX/LA border.. That’s good news for us in NW Houston as it means less high winds, according to one local weather guy, Harris county can expect sustained winds of 45+MPH with gusts upwards of 60 MPH. We’ll see if the storm keeps moving as it is.

22 thoughts on “SFSignal Update”

  1. Panic and dismay!!! Somebody hold me… The boy and I are prepping the house – he has taken to the window taping like a… Window taper boy. I will be making cookies later if your interested…

  2. If I promise to stop posting articles unrelated to SciFi, will someone go and tape up the windows in my house in Houston??

    UPDATE: You mean if you guys lose power in Houston, I can post content here from Austin totally uncontested?!?!? Muahahahah…

    Megalomaniacal laughter aside, I hope you guys stay dry and stay safe!! Good Luck!!

  3. As a former resident of Florida, I just have one thing to say: fill up those bathtubs–you’ll need the water to flush the toilets.

    On a more serious note, y’all stay safe. Gort and the rest of the EvilAndroids gang will be thinking of you.

  4. How interesting – the whole thing has turned into a non-event for very large portions of Houston. I hope those in the low lying areas and those near the coast don’t end up ignoring the next order to evactuate.

    However, I appreciate that maybe some people got too stressed and scared and had to leave, but I’m over 70 miles from the coast and over 90 feet above sea level – and in fact near where residents of the low lying areas were evacuated TO. There was no reason for those in my area to leave and all they did was end up clogging the roads for those who were asked to evacuate. We need a more orderly evacuation plan, I think – including telling people NOT to leave from certain areas.

    While certainly there are 100+ MPH winds heading inland at the moment over near Port Arthur, the population density over there is significantly less than in Houston. I sincerely hope this ends up being a minor hurricane in terms of loss of life and damage to property.

  5. Well I had a very exciting weekend. I stayed but had step shelter My Dad does live in League City including my Shell’s Dad and her stepmom and stepgrandma. Well….. by Thursday It took my dad 3 hours to get to my house. But it took my EX to get her 8 hours. He took the evacuation route 45 and then went East on Beltway8.He finally got smart and went on the surface roads when he got to the Beltway and I10.

    Well I had 7 adults, 5 dogs 3 cats and 1 fish. Remember my brother is in town for his play and he helped get my Shelter in order. By Friday morning, my ex decided to go north. It took him 7 hours to go 12 miles. He did not even reach Magnolia. Well, they turned around b/c he used a half a tank of gas. So finally they stay with us.

    I made great Hurricanes, played cards and basically feed a house full.

    On Saturday, since League City had power they all left. Plus my brother headed for New York this morning. What a weekend.

  6. Well I had an exciting weekend! And, if I may correct you, Scott, and I may, I might say “How scary.”

    I had similar feelings Wednesday afternoon when the projected path of Rita was west of my home. Sure we’d get the “dirty” side, but it should have been far enough away to prevent any real damage.

    But then Wednesday night’s newscast told a different story. The path was swinging north and the areas local to us in NW Houston were to receive strong “dirty” winds sustained for several hours accompanied with severe rainfall. I took this as my cue to get out of Dodge. If they were correct, I figured my neighborhood would also lose power so what was the point in staying in the sweltering heat? Instead, I took my elderly neighbor up on her offer and drove her that night (instead of the next day) to her daughter’s home. Good thing we left when we did – we have since heard several stories of people who tried to leave on Thursday but could not because of the heavy traffic. North of Houston, even further away from the storm, people were stealing gas straight from the tanks to get away. My son heard gunfire not far from where he took shelter.

    Yes, Scott, it was damn fortunate for us that the path swung further east, but the fact is, at some point in the night, the path of a then-category 5 hurricane was headed straight over your home as the eye moved from west to east. Maybe your house can withstand the rain and the expected 135+ MPH winds for the predicted several hours. Mine cannot. The projected rainfall alone was enough to ensure that I would see flood damage similar or worse to the damage I received from tropical storm Allison.

    Anyone can easily lean on the knowledge of hindsight and say they took the better course of action after all was said and done. But if the same circumstances were to happen again, I will be taking the same steps to protect my family, no matter how much the chance that it would all have been for naught.

  7. Well John not that I want to come to the defense of Scott, but I too chose to stay. The reports from the National Hurricane Tracking service had indicated all along that the storm was going to gather strength in the center of the gulf and then degrade since it was going to run out of warm water to draw from. I would also state that the media really did a crummy job of educating folks who were in danger versus those who were not. They continued to use the Katrina experience to compare to in this case and Houston is not laid out in the same fashion that New Orleans. I am happy you managed to get out – and in hindsight I wish I too had been able to get to someplace else since we effectively got a week off with pay due to the potential damage that could have happened to Houston. My situation was that my wife was out of town and I still have an elderly animal that I am unsure he would have survived a radical change of location that would have been required. I will say that next time a big hurricane is coming to Houston – I will ensure I have an exit strategy…..

  8. Don’t misunderstand me – I do not chide those who chose to stay. It was a personal decision for each individual and family. Just as I do not second-guess those who did choose to stay, I think it’s a smidgeon unfair to label those that chose to leave as road cloggers.

    I’m grateful that we are all safe and on behalf of all of us, thanks to those who wished us well.

  9. And I would also like to extend my thanks to those who wished us well and to those who may have not wished us well but wanted to. Also, I would like to commend John on his excellent use of the word “chide”. SFSignal, not only a place where you can learn all sorts of cool SF stuff but a language enhancer as well.

    I am happy it worked out for us in Houston proper but I send my condolences to those poor folks from New Orleans who are again flooded and those families in Beaumont and Port Arthur who have suffered in our stead…

  10. I think you misunderstood me John. I’m saying that people need to listen to the evacuation orders being given by county/city officials. You don’t live in an area where you were asked to evacuate – so why did you? You did it because you were scared and stressed – and as I said, I appreciate that. The disaster plan needs to account for this, including telling you when not to leave (which they finally did on Friday – telling people NOT to try to evac then but only because you’d be caught in traffic.) The plan needs to let the southern and costal residents get out of town first, then tell the northern residents (even those not being specifically asked to leave) when it is OK to head out. The country/city evac plan simply didn’t take into account that so many people would fear a New Orleans scenario here (despite the fact that we don’t live under sea level protected by levees) and take to the highways.

    Personally I put some of the fear blame not on the storm but on the media and its 24/7 hype machine – the local stations went 24/7 coverage and then had to fill the airtime, sometimes with doom/gloom scenarios that flat out didn’t make sense.

  11. To answer your question, Scott: I evacuated because the predicted winds/rain (whether hype or not, I could not be certain) meant it was not a safe situation. I do not subscribe to the Texas bravado and believe that I was safe simply because I was 70 miles from the shore. Was there not destruction along Rita’s path 70 miles in? Ultimately, I decided that discretion is the better part of valor. I know there was no standing order for our area to evacuate, but I knew orders given to evacuate any later (like they eventually did) would have been too late (as indeed they were).

    The thought of a repeat Katrina scenario never seemed like a reality to me either, but I was still concerned about high winds and rain. I wasn’t worried about tidal surge at our distance from the shore, but I was still nervous about home damage due to flooding. Elevation only matters when you are higher relative to surrounding areas. Based on the flood damage we received from tropical storm Allison a couple of years ago, I suspect I am at a relative low elevation compared with neighboring areas. Thus water finds its way into my neighborhood making flooding during heavy rains something to take seriously regardless of our elevation from sea level.

    On the bright side, I got to drive my neighbor’s new car on a cross-Texas drive. :)

  12. John, please know that I am not questioning your behavior at all. I understand why you and many others left – when the storm was packing 175MPH winds it was scary. You have an added complication that I don’t – a history of flood waters in your house and as such you know that it is a risk for you – it is very good that you know when to leave. If we had this conversation face to face (and maybe I shouldn’t post this for this reason) you’d understand my issue is with the way things unfolded without plan – not the understandably scared people involved.

    My wife and I were stressed as well – worrying about where my family would sleep Friday night, how we would live with being without power for several days, etc.

    My intent all along was to note that the official disaster evac plan did not take into account mass numbers of people leaving who weren’t asked. They usually worry about the reverse – the people who are asked to leave but don’t. This time the huge numbers of people, fearing the worst, clogged the roads – there is no value judgement from me on the individuals, it’s just a fact that this happened. In the future, the plan needs to deal with this.

    And in my opinion, in that plan they have to tell John and others in his situation when not to leave. Is that hard to accept? They might say not to leave because they are keeping the roads clear for others leaving who are in more immediate danger. They might say not to leave because the disaster is too close and they don’t want you on the roads during it. They might be telling you that your safe where you are and to stick it out – that you waste gas and other scarce resources by leaving. This isn’t a value judgement on the people – again just the facts that three million people on the move is a logistical nightmare. I don’t have a total solution – luckly I’m not a disaster planner either.

    But make no mistake – it is a free country and they can’t keep you from leaving just as they can’t make you go – I’m not suggesting some police action that forces you back into your house or something. I’m just looking for the official policy to act as a balancing force against the news media who hypes because that’s all they know how to do anymore (don’t get me started!)

    Finally on the lighter side – how do you know that your house can’t withstand 135MPH winds? Is there a test scenario I’m not aware of the lets you know this kind of thing? Maybe you hit your house with some souped-up leaf blower tied into a car engine?

  13. So, I knew a fair number of architectural engineering students in college (whom we made much fun of for the whole glass is a liquid thing – which is true – but that is another story). And those guys run all sorts of tests on lumber, framing techniques and stuff of that nature. Based on those tests – they write building codes. If John needs help testing, I can get my specially designed hair dryer out to verify those scientists findings…:-@

  14. As for me, we almost left Thursday morning to go to Austin. The immediate deciding factor to stay was the traffic, second was the fact the storm, as of Thursdays 10am track, had weakened and moved off to the east. If a Cat 4/5 does ever come over Galveston and heads this way, you can bet I’m leaving. I’m not going to trust my house, or any house in un-incorporated Harris County, to stand up to continuous 100+MPH winds for several hours. Sure the house will be standing, but I don’t want to be in it when the roof comes off.

    As it was, I’m glad it missed us. I was still trying to relax on Sunday after several days of being stressed out, and wondering whether the stress would cause my wife to go into labor early (she didn’t). And having to live through the past three days without power would have been major suckage. I don’t see how anyone could live here without AC…

  15. Well, if it makes you feel any better, we did evacuate (being perilously close to the coast) mostly to make sure our big dogs (ok, they’re horses…really!) made it through unscathed. 35 hours after getting up wednesday morning, we found a hotel in Nacodoches (can’t spell that stupid word) and crashed for about four hours…upon awaking, found that the stupid storm had shifted and was now bearing down on us again..crap…make some more phone calls…go pick up the horses at 4:30 am and head to Ft. Worth…then fall asleep for a couple hours only to have the person who owned the stable we had boarded the horses to tell us that we ‘might’ want to have our horse have some stiches as he’d hurt his face…you might compare that to Joe Theisman ‘MIGHT’ have wanted to put a cast on his face and stick pins in Lawrence Taylor’s voodoo doll for eternity..45 stiches later, we got to go back to where we were staying and I finally got a shower (after almost 2 and a half days)…

    all in all, seriously no bueno…. stupid storm..

    next time I ignore the weather idiots, I mean dr. neil and stay home…

    (looking for my Dr. Neil Voodo doll and giant leaf blower)

    Doug

    (6)

  16. Tongue planted firmly in cheek:

    The police might not be allowed to force you back into your houses, but they can certainly stop (oh wait, you’re already stopped) and ticket all you road-cloggers!!!

    On a different note, is it just me or did anyone else find the news media coverage of the staged return especially humorous? After putting up the map showing the four quadrants and the return date for each, they were went into excruciating details on where the borders for quadrants are, etc. Then they did this over and over, ad nauseum. I’m thinking, if you don’t where you live, maybe you shouldn’t return; instead go to New Orleans, you might get some free money on a debit card… One reason was probably the news stations not knowing what to do with themselves when the storm past Houston without much incident…

    And why the heck do they have to report outside where it’s so windy that the camera crew had to hold on to the reporter’s ankles so she doesn’t get blown away. i didn’t make that one up, she said it in her report! Like we’re not going to believe that there’s a hurricane, otherwise…

    JP, I didn’t you’re having another kid? Congratulations!

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