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From today’s breaking news:
A) The death toll from Hurricane Katrina is now over 1,000.
B) Hurricane Rita is in the Gulf and has hit Category 4.
[UPDATE] Make that a Category 5 hurricane.
There’s a heck of a lot of heat energy in the Gulf.
[UPDATE 2] Evacuation routes from Matagorda County.
Galveston, Texas area map.
I have relatives in Houston. One is quite elderly (but still driving).
According to this, it's now Cat 5.
Mandate of Heaven, like I said. The dynasty has lost this. Regardless of the personal virtue of the Emperor (further the deponent sayeth not), they have failed to exercise their power in a just and virtuous manner.
After we get to Wilma, we start on the Greek alphabet. Thirty-one days in September, thirty days in November, and nine days left in Spetember--will we see Gamma by Thanksgiving?
I'm disappointed that there won't be a Hurricaine Xenon, or Yolanda, or Zenia.
* * *
When Bush says he's going to see that $trashed_locality_visited is going to be better than ever, what are his criteria?
Lots of big box stores? Faith based governance? People who go home weekends to clear brush?
People who vote a straight GOP ticket and have lots of money to spend (not necessarily in that order)? Minorities who grin and sing and dance when the (white) boss comes by?
My boss is at a conference in Houston. They're being told to leave. I can't verify the Cat5 information - NOAA/NWS doesn't have that up yet.
Where do I apply for a job at Halliburton? If I wanna help, I gotta go where the help is being given.
Actually, the WUnderground post I linked to doesn't say that it's a Cat 5; rather, it says that it's almost certain to become one soon.
And that it will lose just enough energy to make landfall as a Cat 4, which is (as we've seen) entirely bad enough.
Stefan, the naming tables for tropical cyclones in the eastern part of the north Pacific were expanded to include 21 letters, rather than the 18 used for Atlantic hurricanes, in 1985. The Hawaiian system seems to pick up next year where they stopped in the list this year; the Filipino system has a auxiliary name list. If you read the article on naming tropical cyclones at Wikipedia, you'll plumb the depth of tropical storm naming trivia. It's a good thing.
Unlike the thought of Hurrican Gamma.
I'm kicking myself that I didn't think to invest in manufactured home stocks.
That he'll leave again?
(I know that'd brighten the corner where I am.)
PJ: if your boss needs a place to stay, I have a friend in Austin who has offered same, and asked me to spread the word.
Stormtrack (now at www.stormtrack.com) says Rita made Cat 5 according to satellite temperature estimates and latest overflight. It's not as large as Katrina, but it looks to be strong.
Terry: I'm told today was the last day of the conference, so he should be due to leave town RSN. Thanks for the offer, though. (It may be just the luck of the year that they got Rita: this is the regular time/place for this conference.)
"There’s a heck of a lot of heat energy in the Gulf."
Stormtrack is at www.stormtrack.org or www.thestormtrack.com, whichever one Cliffton meant. (I think it was the second one, they seem to have recently moved.)
I think the largest question I have concurs with the largest question many have on their minds here. How many more? The object might be variable, though: Hurricanes this season? Casualties? Flooding? Bungled rescues? Heroics that we deeply wish had been unnecessarry?
Okay, it really is a Cat 5 now.
The company for which I work has headquarters in Houston, and they're shutting the campus down tomorrow. A number of employees, including the executives and some finance people, are coming to Austin, and some, who don't have a hotel or friends or family to stay at (the Austin City Limits Festival is this weekend, and there is no room at the inn) are probably going to be not just using the offices, but sleeping here as well.
We're anticipating serious rain here, and probably wind too. Still, nothing anywhere near as bad as what it'll be on the coast.
When I said we needed rain in Austin, this is not exactly what I had in mind.
I thought I couldn't be any more of a wreck in the past several weeks after reading and reading and reading about Katrina.
Of course, Houston's thereabout too.
I think I'm even more of a wreck now. And I'm not even there; I wasn't in N'awlins and I'm not anywhere near Texas and haven't been for years. And even if it doesn't land there specifically--
I wish I were there and I could DO something. I mean--not about the weather specifically, butterfly effect *sigh for chaos theory in popular media* or no--but...something.
I need to stop reading the news obsessively, except I can't, except that's what obsessively means, isn't it?
I will shut up now.
I hate this.
I hope people are paying attention to the warnings in Houston; I heard that they'd learned some lessons from Katrina and are moving the elderly and sick first.
On another front, barring a sudden sharp left turn, Jova is likely to miss Hawai'i. Sudden turns are not out of the question; see the chart of Iniki.
Houston is increasingly flood-prone because more and more of it is, well, concrete. Hospitals and universities did learn, after the last big flood, that basements were not the best places to house things like generators and servers containing medical records.
I'm quite a ways inland and our stores are out of water and batteries already. Gas is not scarce yet, but lines are obscenely long. There's an evacuation info station around the corner from my office. Having your morning commute detoured due to evacuation traffic is deeply weird.
Linkmeister: mandatory evacuations of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities began yesterday in Galveston (where the seawall, I am told, has been neglected of late). Parts of Houston were ordered to evacuate once Rita made Cat 4. (East side outside the loop, for those of you familiar with it.) That's just the mandatory evac; everyone else is, of course, encouraged.
The Houston Chronicle and its Rita blog might be of interest, if you're glued to the news. I am.
I have friends and family in Houston, too.
This is faintly unreal.
Also of interest: Galveston webcams.
Zeynep: Yes, sorry; I should have cut-n-pasted instead of relying on memory.
There's some other news going on that's even more disturbing than big hurricanes. It's hard to tell whether this is medical alarmists exaggerating, or WHO and Asian health departments downplaying it, but some doctors are saying the evidence is clear that the H5N1 flu has reached phase 5 (moderate human-to-human transmissibility in multiple clusters) in Vietnam and Indonesia. (Several people have died recently in Indonesia, including some city-living government workers who would normally have minimal contact with domestic fowl.)
Phase 5 would most likely be the precursor to genetic crossover with a more readily transmissible flu variant, which would likely lead to a massive break-out. The WHO says it's still at phase 3.
Some comments or evaluation by more medically knowledgeable readers would be welcome.
Science News had a story on H5N1 in their issue for 10 September. There are a few cases known of human-to-human transmission. What has the doctors and veterinarians scared is that there are wild birds (ducks mostly) that have the virus and are not sick: they're carriers now. Chickens get it and mostly die. This is not a good sign.
Probably not a constructive observation.
Anyone else notice that the National Hurricane Center's three and five day predictions show Hurricane Rita passing directly over Crawford, Texas?
Leigh: It just got a little more unreal; as of 5:45 CDT Rita's been ranked as "the fifth most intense hurricane in terms of pressure in the Atlantic basin." They've measured 904 mb. Katrina was 902 mb.
For the first time since a long, long time ago, I feel like praying. Or at least jumping up and down and making shaman-type motions towards the south to the tune of "go away." I haven't felt the urge to pray for something for so long, it's feeling decidedly strange.
Of course, even if it can be turned aside, every possible "aside" is seriously hurtful, too.
Cold water. Cold water. Please?
Aargh, maties! I cannot cope with a thread about another category 5 hurricane AND human-to-human transmission of bird flu: it's too much. Brain lock. [Sorry. Two nights running at the ER coping with illness of elderly mother. Not enough sleep or food.] In the background the folks on NPR are nattering on about insurgency and Iraq. One feels a certain sympathy for those folks who believe we're living in the End Times. [No. I don't.] The Triage post seems quite timely, thank you very much.
Shiver me timbers, it's time to batten down the damn hatches again.
Don't go out tonight;
It's bound to take your life;
There's a bathroom on the right.
And Rita just set a record for pressure drop. Ten millibars in an hour.
The bathroom's on the right? Good to know. Good to know.
Feeling a bit like a bowl of petunias right now....
It's been obvious for a couple months now that the Toronto public health folks are convinced in their bones that the flu pandemic has already started; they haven't said this, but there are all sorts of comparisons to the early stages of the 1919 pandemic being drawn, about how human transmission was initially slow and dubious, with a relatively low lethality.
Of course, they could all be still spooked by SARS; it's very hard to tell.
The hurricanes, well, if the North Atlantic Conveyor shuts down, all that heat that used to warm Europe doesn't, it stays down south and powers hurricanes. Some of that might or might not be going on now.
Going by the pattern of the last fifteen years of climatology respectability, the guys who are currently saying 'well, that's the Greenland icecap gone, then' are going to be obviously correct in five years.
Which means the Conveyor will be stone dead for a millennium or so and it will be a really good thing that the Manitoba Department of Agriculture has been maintaining all those crop seed types from the 19th Century cold snap.
The oldest God-legends of the Indo-Europeans are from way up on the endless Asian steppe, and the manifestation of evil was a whirlwind. There will be rough and bloody altars yet to the dark gods of the storm.
(New Orleans has been the hecatomb of folly, and what can you say of those who make sacrifices to folly, and feed it fat?)
Time, I think, to get back into the habits of, if not dearth, then at least the possibility of dearth -- what you have in true emergency is what you can lift and carry (or roll with you, or drag...), from what you can lay hands right now. Aid may come, but it will come slow and halt and scattered. (May it come swift and wise and plenty, all the same, but the habit of planning places no trust in the good outcome that rests on the effectiveness of someone unknown and other and far away.)
If you live where hurricanes come, and you can, in any wise -- have the water and the sealed food, the batteries and the bailing can, today an and tomorrow and all days to come, in the hope of never needing them. If there's first aid for flu beyond re-hydration, have that to hand, if at all you can, because there will be no time to fetch it home when you come to need it.
That is, I think the difference between inconvenience and emergency -- in an inconvenience, you do not do as you planned; in an emergency, you do as you must right now. It's all a question of the present, no past or future until the thing is passed.
Richard, problem is it'll only be a rainstorm if it reaches Crawford. And they probably need rain in Crawford...
Laurie: I'd hesitate to call it a problem if Rita were only to drop rain on Crawford. However, the predictions don't currently indicate how strong Rita will be by the time it reaches Crawford. They do show 12 hours after landfall (and 12 hours before reaching Crawford) Rita will still be classified as a hurricane and 12 hours after reaching Crawford she will likely have weakened to a tropical depression classification. If Rita passes near Crawford, I'd guess she will qualify as a tropical storm.
I clicked on Zeynep's link--and oh, hey look, now it lists Rita as the "third most intense hurricane in terms of pressure in the Atlantic basin," with a central pressure below 899 millibars. That's as of 6:50 pm CDT.
Cold water. Cold water. Cold water.
Gosh darn, all that rain in Crawford will mean more of that pesky brush needing clearing come spring.
Were we using the thermohaline cycle for anything?
somewhere (I lost track of it because there's been too much going on in these storm threads) someone marveled at the fact that a turboprop plane is what actully goes INTO the hurricane for the NOAA surveys. it's because a hurricane would suck the life out of a jet engine. Jets can fly above or around outside the storm winds.
I'm an airplane geek.... Dawn Patroller.
"A wind-age, a wolf-age, before the world ends."
Never mind the current administration - I hate living in a time when being an apocalypse-obsessed religious nutbar seems like a reasonable option.
it's going to be interesting to watch the Katrina vs. Rita clean up comparisons if Rita comes ashore as a Cat 4 just like Katrina. Agreed there are no levees to breach in TX as in NO, but this seems to be a lose-lose situation for Bush.
I'm in Houston. Those of us not in the mandatory evac zones (those likely to be directly affected by the storm surge) are being advised that we do not need to evacuate unless we are in flood-prone areas or mobile homes. We're being told we can shelter as you would from a tornado, only for up to twelve hours.
We haven't decided yet whether we're going to try to leave.
I am heartened by the news from Houston that the hospitals and nursing homes are being evacuated first and promptly, and that ways have been found for people to keep their pets with them -- okay, it may be sentimental and dumb but guess what, humans are sentimental and dumb. You have to hit us over the head with 2 x 4s (Katrina being one big motherfucking 2 x 4) but we do learn.
On the avian flu issue, does anyone know of any links to pages recommending preparations that one person/family can take? Is there anything to do?
Stephen: Flu Wiki has a What to do FAQ that contains some suggestions for personal and family preparedness for an influenza pandemic. I haven't really looked through their suggestions, however, I suspect they won't differ much from the general purpose recommendations for "planning for natural disasters" available from such places as the Red Cross.
The following is cross-posted from my LJ. I'm originally from Deer Park, about forty miles south of Houston, and most of my family is still in that area.
So here's the plan - this one is open to the world, as I'm very eager for assistance. Feel free to pass the word to anyone willing to help.
I'm originally from Houston, and most of my family is still there. Most of them are evacuating, but some cannot, specifically my grandmother who had knee surgery yesterday and is still in the hospital, along with her husband. They'll be ok during the storm itself, but I want to get them out as soon as possible afterwards.
I want to make a rescue and relief operation to Houston. First priority will be getting my grandmother and her husband, then any other family and friends we can collect, along with dropping off supplies where needed. Anything left over can be dropped at a shelter.
First and foremost, I need a high-water vehicle and drivers (prefereably at least two) capable of making the round trip. Second, we need supplies. Third, we need money. Remember that I'm great at logistics and a fair hand at emergency prep, but I can't drive.
Please pass the word and the collection basket. I can handle collecting stuff and money here, and can handle purchasing and sorting donated items. I'd like to leave by Friday, ensuring that we hit Houston as soon as possible after the storm passes.
Let me know in comments or by phone what you can do. I really need your help to make this happen. Feel free to give out my number to anyone who can help. 312-925-3061
The CDC flu pagehttp://www.cdc.gov/flu/
And if you are of more scientific bent, keep an eye on the CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases Page http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/index.htm
Interesting reading material on the 1918 flu pandemic is Gina Kolata's "Flu"
And also good reading is Laurie Garrett's "The Coming Plague" specifically the flu sections.
I've been keeping an eye on the Avian Flu since I first heard about it in 1997. Every year it seems like it's getting a little closer to being easily spread by human to human contact.
We've had 8 years to study this thing. If it rolls out of control, I don't know who we should blame.
In researching hurricane evacuation plans for different communities in the U.S., I was struck by the fact that Miami/Dade had made some allowances for people with pets. If you fill out the proper forms ahead of time (proof of vaccination, etc.), you can go with your pets to the shelter. This site has the information and a link to the form: http://www.miamibeachfl.gov/newcity/hurricane/hurricane.asp
Michelle & Richard: Thanks!
If anyone here has any additional information -- particularly of the form, 'this piece of advice is buried amongst many others but is especially easy and/or crucial so do it' -- do post it!
Stephen: wash your hands. It's the best thing to do to prevent communicable diseases. Hot water, any old soap (antibacterial soaps are a rip-off unless you're about to do surgery, in which case you're using stronger stuff anyway), 20-30 seconds. Hand washing is simple and easy and cheap and your hands smell better when you're done.
Many microbiologists and public health people I know won't touch anything in a public bathroom after they've washed their hands. (Others make fun of them for it.)
Of course, someone stood around in the bathroom at an American Society for Microbiology convention and watched microbiologists wash their hands, and came to the conclusion that microbiologists aren't much better at handwashing than the general public.
My very-elderly-relative went to Brenham yesterday, with help from a friend, after removing all the more-important items from house (at least the parts closer to ground-level: I don't think the water is expected to get deep there). One less person to worry about. Boss flew out of Houston last night and is physically present today.
Lisa, I've deleted the other two copies of your cross post from other threads here. I really think that one is enough.
I'm sorry about that, Jim. Thank you for taking care of that, and for your suggestions about emergency supplies. Your lists are coming in very handy as we pack for this trip.
Re: washing hands and the avian flu.
Washing your hands may be all that you have available.
This is from Talking Points Memo:
I was looking over the list of budget cuts proposed by House Republicans to save the president's tax cuts. And the big thing that sticks out is just how much comes out of Medicare. But a bit down further into the document which they put out there's a $1.8 billion annual cut in funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That's great thinking, seeing as though we don't need to worry about Avian Flu from South Asia or other contagious diseases any more.
Why am I having the feeling that GW and company rely on wishful thinking to handle potential problems?
Cute affordance to help you wash your hands the right amount of time:
Scrub away long enough to hum "twinkle, twinkle, little star" in your head.
If Memory Serves, during the Clinton administration some agency or other paid television scriptwriters to include anti-drug plots. If the A.F. really gets rolling, it might be useful to have scriptwriters include -- quite casually -- characters washing hands, using tissues, and perhaps scolding co-workers who come to work sick.
You're obviously a member of the Reality Based Community, P.J.!
If you deny a problem strenuously enough, and accuse everyone who raises doubts as traitors and extremists, the problem will go away.
I second Jesse about bathrooms--I use my papertowel to open the bathroom door. Especially after seeing people splash their fingertips under the water and call it handwashing.
I also wear untucked shirts so that I can use my shirttails to open doors.
And seriously. Wash your hands a lot. And try to break any habits that put your hands on your face, especially around your mouth. It may sound silly, but if watch yourself and others, and you'll be surprised at how much we touch our noses and mouths.
And WHO Global Influenza Surveillance Network http://www.who.int/csr/disease/influenza/surveillance/en/
Stefan: At work, we just had to go through a hygiene, health and safety meeting, one of the key points of which is telling all the staff (But the bread slicers and bakers in particular) how to wash their hands properly (Rather than just run them quick under water), and the woman doing the training used "happy birthday" because everyone, no matter where they'd immigrated from, knew the song, and we do have a high proportion of immigrants working downstairs.
She came upstairs a few days later, giggling. While she was sitting in the lunch room, several of the slicers came in on break, and used the washroom one after the other. Each one, in succession, could be heard singing "happy birthday" out loud.
The University of Texas (Austin)'s Perry-Casteneda Library Map Collection -- an excellent resource for maps anyway -- has started putting Online Maps of Current Interest on their home page, which today features links to lots of maps of Rita, maps of evacuation routes, and maps of Texas.
My mother, an operating room nurse, taught us all to wash our hands in a public restroom without touching anything after the hands were clean. (This involves getting towels in advance to turn the water off when you're done, as well as to open the door.)
I taught my daughter to wash her hands to the tune of "The Imperial March" from Star Wars. (I think that's what it's called. Bum Bum Bum Bum-bum-bum, bum-bum-bum...) Each line is a specific part of the hand, so she gets everything clean.
I've been told this is one of the things she'll get to discuss in therapy.
"I taught my daughter to wash her hands to the tune of "The Imperial March" from Star Wars."
Get your hands Darth Vader fresh with Imperial March hand sanitizer! By Order of his Dark Majesty Palpatine I.
Of course, Darth Vader was probably really, really skanky much of the time, what with being sealed inside that suit. Flamebathing by that lava flow may have scarred him up good, but it wouldn't have killed off his sweat and sebaceous glands. Pity the poor Imperial Navy midshipmen tasked with swabbing out his "meditation pod."
This is covered in some of the flu websites, but it bears repeating:
Aside from handwashing, one of the best flu prevention measures is to be kind to your immune system: Get enough sleep. Eat healthy food. Drink enough water. Exercise. Avoid unnecessary stress.
For diseases for which there's no immunization and no cure, your body's own defenses are all you've got.
Good advice, Lila.
One thing that gives me hope vis-a-vis the Avian Flu is that most Americans have clean running water, warm places to sleep, plenty of food (if not always the most healthy) and access to nostrums that -- while not a cure for the flu -- reduce symptoms that can if they get away can lead to a downward spiral.
What worries me are immigrant communities and the poor, who can't count on the above and may live in close conditions.
Of course, Darth Vader was probably really, really skanky much of the time, what with being sealed inside that suit.
Wow. That's one of the first things I thought of, seeing him on the big screen: how does he take a bath?
Followed, of course, by "Ew."
"how does he take a bath?"
Even thinking that within telepathy distance of the Dark Lord was enough to get your telekinetically strangled. The Imperial Navy lost more orderlies that way . . .
The answer: Imperial Scrub Bots. The action figure came with an early version of the Darth Vader Meditation Pod set. Highly collectable now, of course.
My Imperial Scrub Bot just got a wild look in its screens, turned east, and headed purposefully towards Texas.
One good way to avoid flu: tell your sick friends (co-workers, fellow gym rats, walking buddies, etc. etc.) to stay the hell away from you and anyone else they might pass the virus to. It is fucking amazing how many people think that it is okay for them to come to work when they have the flu. This goes triple if you or anyone you come in contact with has an impaired immune system. I teach martial arts; I am also a caregiver for an elderly parent. My students know, if they are sick, they DO NOT show up at the dojo because they believe in "sweating it out." I am quite firm about this.
Yesterday's WashPost op-ed page had an interesting comparison between how Chernobyl was handled and Katrina was handled. They don't have it online, of course, so it's here.
Lizzy Lynn: our local schools explicitly urge kids to come to school sick! Students with 8 or more absences in a given semester, excused or unexcused, regardless of grades, work made up, etc., receive no credit for any class.
They also do not give the kids an opportunity to wash their hands either after recess or before lunch.
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