As Hurricane Ike gains strength in the Gulf of Mexico, residents and businesses along the Texas and Louisiana coasts are closely watching the track of the storm. The latest projections from the National Hurricane Center have shifted to the north, putting Ike on track to make a direct hit on Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city. The NHC emphasizes that its track forecasts often shift as hurricanes approach land, but adds in this morning’s advisory that “in this case it is particularly important not to focus on the exact forecast track since damaging winds extend so far from the center.” Houston is home to several major data centers, including The Planet, which hosts more than 10,000 dedicated and managed servers in its Houston facilities.
The latest advisories suggest Ike will approach the Galveston/Houston area as a category 3 storm with sustained winds of 125 miles an hour. Some analysts say the storm could reach category 4 strength, as the current internal pressure of about 945 mb suggests a stronger hurricane than the latest wind measurements of 100 miles and hour.
A good resource for tracking Ike’s progress is StormPulse, which provides a visual display of the latest official updates from the Hurricane Center, including the projected path and strength of the storm. StormPulse also allows you to easily display track projections from the dozen or so computer models analyzed by the NHC to produce its official track. For detailed analysis, the Wunderblog from Jeff Masters of Weather Underground is another useful source. To stay current on local preparations and evacuations, see the Houston Chronicle web site.