Could Galveston suffer the same fate as New Orleans? Could Galveston's walls be overwhelmed by the storm surge and the city be flooded, and essentially destroyed? The new forecast track has Katrina going just to the SW of Galveston.
The surge possiblity is certain there. It will be high enough to overcome the levys and flooding will certain be very bad, but the water will naturally recede. They wont be trapped in like the bowl New Orleans is. Most of Houston is above sea level. However, a big concern is the wind damage that a high cat 4 or cat 5 would cause in the Houston area would be catastrophic. Just look at what Katrina did to where the eyewall made landfall. I sure hope it dodges the Houston metro area...but it looks grim!!
Iâ€™ll tend to agree...the storm surge could potentially overtake the walls. I would say flooding is pretty certain, based on the latest tracks. But I wouldn't jump to any conclusions just yet....I would certainly like to think this wouldn't happen, but in these uncertain times, it's hard to be sure of anything. But, nonetheless, Galveston, TX is most certainly susceptible to flooding/storm surge given itâ€™s below sea level (So to speak).
I have chased 2 hurricanes around Galveston. The first was Alecia in 1983 and lately Claudette in 2003. Before Alecia hit, I left Galveston and headed north. I did not stick around to observe the waves hitting the seawall. Since Claudette went further SW I stuck around in Galveston long enough to see the storm pass then headed SW. Claudette was a cat3 and the seawall did it's job but waves were splashing pretty good over the top of the seawall. In my opinion if Rita passes within 50 miles S of Galveston and is a strong cat4 water will be pushed over the seawall. I lived on Galveston Island a couple of years and knowing the lay of the land, it does not look good.
Damage was observed across most of the coastal counties of the Houston/Galveston National Weather Service forecast area. Major beach erosion was observed from High Island to Freeport. Large geo-tubes on Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula did reduce erosion in areas where they were in place. Further south in Matagorda County, major beach erosion was observed in the Sargent area. Coastal roads along the west end of Galveston Bay were under water due to tidal flooding between 5 and 8 feet above mean lower low water. Tides in the west Matagorda Bay area were minimal. Much of the water there was pushed out of the Bay as the storm approached and did not have adequate time to generate a large surge once the winds became east and then southeast. Two deaths (both from falling trees or tree limbs) have been attributed to Hurricane Claudette.
Claudette was a minimum category one. I was in Galveston at the time and waves were splashing over the top of the seawall. The beach highway had some water in some spots, but for the most part the sea wall did a great job. Just to our W the erosion was unbelievable. Houses that were built up on stilts were standing in the gulf and some were leaning, the roads were flooded and small debris was scattered everywhere. I couldn't even get to the area with the worse damage because the roads were impassable.
If Rita hits just West of Galveston, I would expect Galveston to look very similar to the Ms Gulf coast, the areas to it's west such as High Island to Freeport would look very similar to Pass Christian, Ms after Katrina except the erosion would be much worse. I wouldn't expect any long term flooding in those areas, but frankly it wont matter because there wont be anything salvagable.