Archive for September, 2009

Houston Flooding
September 29, 2009


As a result of the 1929 and 1935 floods, Harris County Flood Control District was founded in 1937 to prevent continued public calamity caused by great floods and to construct improvements to control flood waters.


April 1929 – Gulf Storm moved over Houston and Harris County lasting 14 hours. Many areas had rainfall of 10 inches or more. All of the Bayous where out of their Banks.


May 24-31,1929 – The worst flood that anyone could remember just a month after the flood in April closed the Houston Central Water Plant. The San Jacinto River rose 30 feet above normal. Heavy rains over the heads of the drainage basins of Buffalo and White Oak Bayous caused the highest flood since 1879. One person was killed. Port of Houston was damaged.



December 1935 – Downtown flooding


According to the Harris County Flood Control District, damage from the 1935 flood totaled nearly $3 million ($41,414,787.72 in today’s dollars) and killed seven people. Twenty-five blocks of downtown Houston were submerged along with 100 residential blocks.


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Australia’s Dust Storms
September 24, 2009

Winds sweep millions of tons of red dust from Australia’s drought-ravaged interior and dump it on the coast.  The orange sky looked to many like the city was on fire.


This is the Australia Opera House


A wall of dust stretched from northern Queensland to the southern tip of eastern Australia on the morning of September 23, 2009, when NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image. The dust is thick enough that the land beneath it is not visible. The storm, the worst in 70 years, led to canceled or delayed flights, traffic problems, and health issues.  The concentration of particles in the air reached 15,000 micrograms per cubic meter in New South Wales during the storm.  A normal day sees a particle concentration 10-20 micrograms per cubic meter.

Strong winds blew the dust from the interior to more populated regions along the coast. In this image, the dust rises in plumes from point sources and concentrates in a wall along the front of the storm. The large image shows that some of the point sources are agricultural fields, recognizable by their rectangular shape. Australia has suffered from a multiple-year drought, and much of the dust is coming from fields that have not been planted because of the drought.

The Decade’s Strongest Hurricane
September 23, 2009


This collection of images featuring the strongest hurricane, cyclone, or typhoon from any ocean during each year of the past decade includes storms both famous—or infamous—and obscure.

Of the decade’s most powerful storms, two were in the Atlantic/Caribbean basin, five were in the Pacific north of the equator, and three were in the South Pacific.  This is a satellite image of Damrey:


Storm Date of image Maximum Wind Speed km/h (mph) Minimum Pressure millibars Basin
Damrey May 9, 2000 290 (180) 878 Western Pacific
Faxai December 22, 2001 290 (180) 915 Western Pacific
Zoe December 28, 2002 285 (177) 890 South Pacific
Maemi September 10, 2003 280 (174) 910 Western Pacific
Chaba August 23, 2004 290 (180) 879 Western Pacific
Wilma October 18, 2005 295 (183) 882 Atlantic/Caribbean
Monica April 24, 2006 285 (177) 905 South Pacific
Dean August 18, 2007 280 (174) 907 Atlantic/Caribbean
Jangmi September 27, 2008 260 (162) 905 Western Pacific
Hamish March 8, 2009 240 (149) 925 South Pacific


Never heard of Damrey?  There is a reason, it didn’t make land, it harmlessly wandered in the Pacific Ocean. 

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Funny Moment of the Day
September 21, 2009

Anthony & Owen talking makeup. Most guys don’t have jobs like this.

The First Time Houston Flooded
September 17, 2009


In April 1837, a lashing flood hit newly-formed Houston. Only a few months later, in early October, a hurricane hit and caused the bayous to rise four feet at Main Street. The very next year, it was incredibly cold. On February 2, 1838, the temperature dropped to 16 degrees and it was 22 degrees on the 16th.

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California Wildfires From Space
September 10, 2009


This image was captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) onboard NASA’s Terra satellite.  It shows the burn scar of the Station Fire in southern California just north of Los Angeles.

This ASTER image shows the burn scar of the Station Fire on September 6, 2009 to the north of Los Angeles, California.  In this false-color image, which was made with near infrared light, the newly charred land is black, plants are dark red, and man-made surfaces are blue and white, which can be seen south and southwest of the burn scar.  The smoke in the upper right corner of the image is where the Station Fire is still burning.

  • As of today, September 9, the Station Fire has burned 160,357 acres and is 60% contained with 4,497 firefighters currently battling the blaze.

  • The size of the fire has reached half the size of Los Angeles, twice the size of Sacramento, and is the 8th largest California wildfire since 1932.

  • The fire began on Wednesday, August 26, and has destroyed 167 structures so far:  78 homes, 2 business, and 87 other structures.

  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of the arsonist(s).  The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has also offered a reward of $50,000.

  • Two firefighters lost their lives attempting to contain the fire on the night of August 30.  If found, the arsonist will be facing homicide charges.

The Great Storm
September 8, 2009


September 8, 1900, the deadliest hurricane to ever hit the United States made land in Galveston. A category 4 storm with 135mph winds and a 15-foot storm surge roared upon the Island and killed 6,000 – 12,000 people. This storm is why we have a seawall.  Some deaths were attributed to drowning during the storm surge.  Others died after being trapped under wreckage for days following the hurricane.  The storm ranks as the worst disaster in U.S. history in terms of loss of life.  The vast majority of the structures on the island were destroyed.

The meteorology at the time believed hurricanes didn’t hit Texas.


The best book I’ve ever read on the Great Storm is by Erik Larson.  “Isaac’s Storm” is the story about the meteorologist in charge of forecasting Galveston weather and what lead up to this disaster.  Even if you know nothing about weather, this is a facinating tale of the place, the people and the tragedy that affects Galveston to this day.   


California Wildfires
September 2, 2009


Image Credit:

Triple-digit temperatures, extremely low relative humidities, dense vegetation that has not burned in decades, and years of extended drought are all contributing to the explosive growth of wildfires throughout Southern California. The Station fire, which began Aug. 26, 2009, in La Canada/Flintridge, not far from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, had reportedly burned 105,000 acres (164 square miles) of the Angeles National Forest by mid-day Aug. 31, destroying at least 21 homes and threatening more than 12,000 others. It is one of four major fires burning in Southern California at the present time.

This image was acquired mid-morning on Aug. 30 by the backward (northward)-viewing camera of the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite. The image is shown in an approximate perspective view at an angle of 46 degrees off of vertical. The area covered by the image is 245 kilometers (152 miles) wide. Several pyrocumulus clouds, created by the Station Fire, are visible above the smoke plumes rising from the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles in the left-center of the image. Smoke from the Station fire is seen covering the interior valleys along the south side of the San Gabriel Mountains, along with parts of the City of Los Angeles and Orange County, and can be seen drifting for hundreds of kilometers to the east over the Mojave Desert.



Environmental Impacts:

  • As of today, September 1, the Station Fire has burned 105,296 acres and is 5% contained with 3,655 firefighters currently battling the blaze.

  • The fire began on Wednesday, August 26, and has destroyed 53 structures so far.  At least 10,000 homes, 500 businesses and 2,000 other structures are threatened.

  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Friday as a result of the Station Fire and mandatory evacuations have been ordered for the 10,000 homes threatened.

  • Two firefighters lost their lives attempting to contain the fire on Sunday night.