As a strong category 2 hurricane, one just shy of the category 3/major hurricane threshold, Ike intrigues me not because of its intensity—yes, that’s something to be concerned about—but because of its size.
The storm didn’t intensify as quickly or as much as originally expected. The simple answer to why that didn’t happen is this: Ike was burning all of its fuel to maintain its enormous size. It’s as large as the state of Texas.
DFW began seeing Ike’s presence a full 24 hours before the storm made landfall.
The furthest reaches of its cloud umbrella began flowing over us yesterday evening, wispy cirrus curling by overhead in lazy arcs that slowly grew into voluminous banks of powerful cumulus clouds begging for the energy to be more than they were.
That energy was still being driven from the Gulf of Mexico, yet all the way across the state it arrived like a slow-motion fall, a cataclysm being watched as it takes shape.
When I arose this morning, the full outer bands of the cloud umbrella had already reached us and enveloped North Texas, dark and forbidding creatures flitting by at an increasing rate as the storm driving them finally came ashore and began its journey in our direction.
The Tropical Storm Wind Warning has been extended well north of us now. Rain estimates have been increased. Tornado potential has spread.
And yet I stand on my patio now and feel the wind and see the shadowy figures cloaking the morning sky, and I wonder how something so far away can be so near, so present in both time and place.
Then I look at the radar, at the satellite images, and I remember Ike’s reach, Ike’s size, Ike’s power.
Today will be interesting to say the least.