Coastal flooding at SPI Beach Access Number 4, 930 AM September 12 Waves reaching the seawall at the Travelodge Hotel on Gulf Boulevard, SPI, 845 AM September 12
Beach Washing Away at SPI
More Coastal Flooding and Dangerous Surf through Saturday

The Latest: 9/12
Hurricane Ike is set to become a storm of legend as it sets its sites on the upper Texas Coast. Fortunately for the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Ike will send little weather through the Lower RGV through today and this evening, with abundant high clouds and occasionally gusty northwest winds, especially near the coast. As expected, marine conditions become extremely dangerous today. Seas have exceeded 20 feet across a large part of the Gulf waters between Baffin Bay and the mouth of the Rio Grande extending out 60 nautical miles. While the weather on South Padre Island is fair, tides have risen considerably, reaching more than two feet above predicted levels at both Port Isabel and South Padre Island, and has exceeded 3 feet above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW), which is causing water rises on the bayside, as well. The peak value thus far was 3.41 feet above MLLW, which was 2.15 feet above predicted levels, at 11:36 AM CDT.

Water levels beach side were impressive just after sunrise on the 12th, with local residents mentioning that in some areas conditions were worse than Rita, the most recent tidal benchmark. Estimated water levels were at least 5 feet above normal as of 9 AM, as the tide eased through at least five private and public beach access points along Gulf Boulevard, dumping some water onto the road. As of this writing, most structures were protected by either high dunes or the sea wall, though some water did make it over the sea wall in a few spots, putting water onto at least one pool deck. However, tide values may have risen a bit further since 1030 AM, so updates will be provided as updated information is received. Beach Access 3 and 4 just north of the resort area had water in the road; at access 4, the water rippled from beach to bay. It was suspected that more significant flooding had occurred at Beach Access 5 and 6. As of mid afternoon, despite a lowering of predicted tides, the actual tide levels were about the same as they were during the astronomical high tides earlier Friday morning. In fact, as of 7 PM, tide departures continued to climb even as low tide approached, with values at least 2.6 feet above predicted levels.

Waves by the jetty at Isla Blanca Part drew a large crowd of seasoned surfers, and fortunately conditions across the inner waters appeared to be conducive to a good surfing day. Sure enough, spaced sets of towering waves (by Gulf standards) developed every five minutes or so, including some estimated to be more than 12 feet. The worst news, of course, is the significant beach erosion that will largely finish a summer which began promising, but was derailed by Dolly and further hurt by Gustav. Beach erosion due to powerful waves has already run through two high tide cycles, and will likely run a third on the morning of the 13th, as southwest to south flow behind what should be a more northward moving Ike through east Texas locks up water at the coast, along with continued very rough surf. There's always next summer, at least.

Other Impacts: Winds
A freshening breeze from the northwest at 10 to 15 mph will continue from Hidalgo and Brooks County westward Friday afternoon, increasing to 15 to 20 mph and a few higher gusts in Cameron and Willacy Counties, except 20 mph and gusty in Kenedy County and along the immediate coast. This evening will see a veil of high clouds with northwest winds 10 to 15 mph inland, and 15 to 20 mph and gusty near the coast. However, after landfall late tonight into early Saturday, winds will continue to back to the west, then southwest, and eventually south, and increase. Expect speeds to pick up to 10 to 20 mph inland, and 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph or so toward the coast then further increase to 15 to 25 mph and gusty inland, and 20 to 30 mph and gusty near the coast, Saturday morning. The best chances for tropical storm force gusts will be late Friday night and Saturday in Kenedy County and the adjacent coastal waters, and on Saturday just about anywhere, should rain bands nose southward deeper into the Valley. Sustained tropical storm force winds may develop for a time across the Gulf waters 40 to 60 miles east of the Padre Island seashore of Kenedy County.

Rainfall: Ike and Beyond
Rains directly associated with Ike will be nothing more, and perhaps less, than what we've experienced off and on for the past several weeks. Outer bands should press southwest beginning tonight, and could become more active on Saturday morning into the afternoon when colliding with increasingly unstable air. Such bands would be capable of producing a quick 2 or 3 inches, but none should last more than an hour, and most of the time will be rain free. These bands could form just about anywhere in the Valley.

Conditions could become more interesting well after Ike has passed. Data are suggesting that Ike will leave an area of disturbed weather in the mid and upper levels of the atmosphere, while dragging the first cool front through Texas, probably reaching south Texas before stalling early next week. Additional waves of energy aloft, combining with a low level influx of deep tropical moisture, all interacting with the dissipating front, could spell a number of days of rain next week, some locally heavy. Given that much of the Valley remains close to saturation following a wet July and August, additional heavy rains could become the much bigger weather story for Deep South Texas and the Lower RGV. Stay tuned for continuous updates.

High Tide Times and Expected Values, South Padre Island CG Station
Sept. 13
512 AM
1.264 ft
4 to 6 ft
Note: Tide gage is located on Laguna Madre; values likely to be higher on beach


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