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Hurricane Harvey: Storm Roars Ashore Near Corpus Christi, Tex

26 August 2017 10:29 AM
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Hurricane Harvey: Storm Roars Ashore Near Corpus Christi, Tex

• Follow Times correspondents tracking the storm on Twitter: @mannyNYT in Corpus Christi, @alanblinder, @julieturkewitz and @ckrausss in Houston, @viaSimonRomero in Albuquerque, N.M., and @jswatz in New York.

As thousands of coastal residents were ordered to evacuate on Friday, and others chose to leave on their own, inland cities welcomed an influx of evacuees on Friday.

Gov. Greg Abbott said the state government was preparing to assist up to 41,000 evacuees. As many as 54 shelters would be open, officials said, with the potential for that number to grow.

Dallas opened a shelter for up to 500 people, and was ready to open two more if needed, officials there said.

“We are prepared to handle much more than we are right now,” said Rocky Vaz, director of the Dallas Office of Emergency Management.

In Austin, the American Red Cross scheduled an “urgent shelter volunteer training” session on Friday as officials prepared for more evacuees to arrive.

And in San Antonio, more than 150 people were being housed at a former elementary school as of Friday morning, according to the local news station KSAT-TV. Many of those seeking shelter had arrived by bus.

San Antonio was also bracing for a possible uptick in homeless pets, and was offering incentives for people to help clear space in local animal shelters.

One of the terms thrown around when a hurricane is approaching land is models — what do the models say will happen? Hurricane computer models turn the complex factors that govern storms into forecasts. There are a number of leading hurricane models, and their forecasts often conflict. The discrepancies are evident in what are known as “spaghetti models”: maps that show the results of multiple models and multiple data runs in what can be a tangled mess.

Some models in the case of Hurricane Harvey show stunningly high levels of rainfall in coming days: a run on Friday from the European model forecast as much as 60 inches of rainfall. J. Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia, warned against focusing on the most extreme examples presented by any single model or run.

“That’s one isolated run,” he said. “What we tend to do as meteorologists is look at what’s known as an ensemble,” or a blending of the runs to filter out what could be outliers. Focusing on one line in the spaghetti plot is a bad idea without greater context; “that might be the worst model in the batch,” he said.

Dr. Shepherd said that models have, in general, gotten better in recent years at forecasting the track of a storm, but have not done as well at predicting a storm’s intensity.

Cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers and crew have been ordered to steer clear of the Port of Galveston. The port, which is less than 200 miles northeast of where the hurricane made landfall late Friday, was closed until the weather clears.

Carnival Cruise Line diverted three ships scheduled to arrive at the port this weekend. Rather than docking in Galveston on Saturday, Carnival Valor and Carnival Freedom were to stop in New Orleans to pick up fuel, water and food, then stay at sea until the weather clears. The 3,666 passengers on Freedom and the 3,628 passengers on Valor will be allowed to end their cruise and disembark in New Orleans, though Carnival is encouraging them to stay on board to avoid the difficulty of traveling back to Galveston on their own.

Carnival Breeze remained docked overnight in Cozumel, Mexico, and will set off for Texas in the afternoon, aiming to drop off its 4,660 passengers in Galveston on Sunday on schedule. In an alert, Carnival said it would dock its ships as soon as port officials reopen the port. However, “this is all fluid depending on what the storm is doing at the time,” said Christine de la Huerta, a Carnival spokeswoman.

With the storm, the Trump administration faces its first test in dealing with a major natural disaster. The storm will also be the first major challenge for the Federal Emergency Management Agency under Brock Long, who was confirmed as director in June by the Senate.

Mr. Long was the director of Alabama’s disaster relief agency when Hurricane Katrina hit the state in 2005, and his selection has inspired confidence among lawmakers and state disaster relief officials.

Lanita Lloyd, the president of the International Association of Emergency Managers, a trade group, told The Times last month that Mr. Long was battle-tested.


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