Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Mandatory Rita Evacuation ... 13% Probability of Strike

Local officials here, seeing that we are in the highest probability zone and the center of the probability projections for landfall of hurricane Rita this coming weekend, have ordered a mandatory evacuation of the suburb of Houston in which I live and all of Galveston County.

Problem #1: Though we're in the "highest probability" strike zone, that probability would be 13% at latest estimate. If you add in roughly another 12% for striking elsewhere but still too close for comfort, that still leaves a 75% chance of a miss.

Problem #2: The probability is only marginally lower than 13% for the entire Texas coastline all the way from Brownsville to Beaumont, a stretch of several hundred miles. A hit in Corpus Christi, much less Brownsville, would hardly affect us.

Problem #3: But if we're going to evacuate that many people in time, it means starting several days early. Starting several days early means there's a high probability that it's a waste of time.

If any of you outside of hurricane country have ever wondered why it's so typical to ignore warnings to leave, the reason is really very simple: most of the warnings are unnecessary. Playing the odds, people have won more often than not.

As for me, I expect to be evacuating. It's one thing to suspect that the current leaders are just a bit paranoid in the aftermath of Katrina; it's another to defy a mandatory evacuation order. I hope to be back before the start of next work week.

Update 09/21/2005 9:40pm
The above was written while Rita was category 2. Now Rita is category 5. This time, the call for evacuation seems to have been justified. As for me & mine, we're planning to head inland shortly. Our evacuation order calls for us to be underway by noon. Additional problem: roughly 1 million people are evacuating. The roads are parking lots. The inland cities receiving us probably do not have a combined population of 1 million themselves. And my original plan to head across town to stay with a relative on higher ground are now scrapped because she is also now under evacuation order.


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BK said...

God bless you. I hope everything turns out okay and you can return safe and whole to home.

Layman said...

Praying for you and yours Anne.


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