Direct hit: Hurricane Ike came ashore 8 years ago

HOUSTON - Hurricane Ike roared across Galveston at 2:10 a.m. eight years ago this morning and with it came unparalleled destruction and a clean up that lasted for months. Its fury didn't discriminate and by sunrise on the 13th, many were left with nothing more than the sounds of dripping rain drops from their splintered homes.



Do you remember that morning? I do. I was working at a station in Bryan, Texas at the time. After working nearly around the clock for two solid days, I drove back to my parents home in The Woodlands, dodging trees, power lines and red lights laying in the middle of intersections.

As I walked down the street in my neighborhood, I remember noting how pitch black it was and the overwhelming aroma of pine -- like walking through a Christmas tree farm. Trees were everywhere, laying in all directions, on top of homes, cars and in the streets. It's as though mother nature had taken her frustration out on us. It was an incredible moment; one that made me feel powerless, like all the homes around me, and very small. Here are some pictures I snapped after the storm:

Hurricane Ike was the first hurricane to hit the Houston area since Hurricane Jerry in October of 1989 and the first big hurricane to hit since Hurricane Alicia in 1983.

Ike is the hurricane that changed the Saffir-Simpson scale, the scale that rates how strong a hurricane is, as we know it. In the ''olden days,'' a hurricane's max sustained winds and estimated storm surge were correlated, meaning a category two storm would produce category two surge and so on.

Ike was different. Ike was huge, at one point taking up over half the size of the Gulf of Mexico. A storm of that size and the forward movement was enough to construct an impressive category four surge that literally wiped the Bolivar Peninsula clean of nearly every house.

It took many by surprise. Afterall, this was ''only'' a category two hurricane. Galveston had been hit by stronger hurricanes in the past and did just fine. However by the morning of the 13th, it was clear Ike was different. The Flag Ship Hotel was in ruins with a large chunk of the curtain wall torn away. The Balinese Room was a pile of splintered rubble stacked up along Seawall Boulevard. So was Murdock's.

In downtown Houston, many of the skyscrapers took heavy glass damage. The Chase Tower, Houston and Texas' tallest tower, lost 40 floors of windows on the east facing side. Trees were down for a hundred miles or more. Power was out for over a month in some locations.

The winds roared through Houston like a freight train. Here's a look at the estimated winds as the storm moved through:

Huricane Ike's wind field was enormous with 90 mph winds as far inland as Livingston. Sustained hurricane force winds nearly to Lufkin. Here's a look at a more detailed map provided by NOAA of the wind field.

I hear stories about how frightening the hurricane was. People like my dad who swear it was stronger than they said it was. The bad news is, for those reading this story who live in the west or north of Houston, Ike was only a category one by the time it moved out of downtown. You can only imagine what a category three, four or five would be.

Ike was NOT a worse case scenerio. Looking at the wind field map, the worst Ike had to offer missed Houston to the east. If we ever strike out and have a category four or five hurricane, the size of Ike hit the west end of Galveston, which puts Houston on the dirty side, the damage would exceed $100 billion by some estimates and the damage would make Ike look like a daily thunderstorm.

Hurricane Ike has long come and gone but the storm still rages and the howling winds still pierce the quietness of the night for those that lived it. With a nod to Reba, it was the night the lights went out in Texas.

(© 2016 KHOU)


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