East of the Hurricane?

The National Hurricane Center’s official forecast continues to name Matagorda Bay as Rita’s most likely landfall target Friday night or Saturday morning, leaving Galveston and the Houston area vulnerable to a storm surge, dangerous winds, heavy rain and possibly tornadoes.

So says the Houston Chronicle at 3:58 pm today.

Why is that a big deal?

Well, according to a meterologist on 740 AM those who are to the east of the hurricane will be hit with winds that are 15 mph higher than those of the hurricane itself. Since right now Rita is clocked at 160, that means that we’d be getting 175 mph winds.

With that we’ll have a mess. Look for a clean sweep of the beaches and coastal areas. Look for surge areas to be submerged and pretty much totally gone. Look for flooding throughout Houston. Although we’re not below sea level, we were a bayou and we are laced with hundreds of rivers and creeks. Those beds will overflow their boundaries rapidly. Look for matchsticks that used to be houses and trees in other areas, such as where I live. And that’s not even considering the tornados we might be getting beforehand.

If Rita hits anywhere close to us as a Cat 5 we’ll be looking at billions in damage. Hopefully, though, with Katrina to remind us of what most in Texas already knew, we won’t be looking at many deaths.