Hurricane Ike is pounding coastal Texas, especiallycould be the most devastating storm that the Lone Star State has seen since Hurricane Alicia of 1983 which caused $6 billion in damage and 21deaths. Ike is huge. Hurricane force winds extend out 120 miles from the storm’s center and tropical storm force winds reach out 275 miles.
As a hurricane travels over the ocean, its strong winds push against the water’s surface, causing it to pile up higher than the sea’s ordinary level. As the hurricane makes landfall, the water is pushed onshore and can quickly wash many miles inland, destroying homes and businesses. This tidal surge, accounts for the majority of deaths and damage caused by a hurricane.
UPDATE: Millions of people across three states don’t have power, and Texas’ largest rescue effort in history is under way. Things could have been much worse – only 21 died even though thousands of people chose to ignore the evacuation orders – far fewer than the 1,600 killed when Katrina hit the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts in 2005.
Search and rescue teams made it to west Galveston Island, which saw some of the heaviest damage from the storm and took the longest to reach due to flooded roads and the high winds. The area was like a ghost town. Galveston cannot, at this point, safely accommodate its residents.
The destruction from Ike is scattered across hundreds of miles in Texas and Louisiana and will cost billions of dollars.