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August 31, 2005

Looting out of control, third levee breached

The mayor of New Orleans today ordered 1500 police officers to give up rescue operations in order to control rioting. This comes as a third levee has breached and 90% of Gulf of Mexico oil production has stopped. At this hour the Army Corps of Engineers is attempting to seal off the canal in order to repair the breach. This was not done earlier as engineers has hoped the use the canal to drain the city.

There is a good link to New Orleans satellite imagery that the Drudge Report is linking.

Beyond this, I am at a loss for words to describe the situation at hand. I fear we may see many more deaths from disease in the coming days.

Tropical Storm Lee forms in the Atlantic

Just to make everyone aware, Tropical Storm Lee has formed in the middle of the Atlantic. The storm is very weak, not likely to strengthen, and will really affect just the fish. Check with the National Hurricane Center if you really care.

New Orleans water level stabilizes

First the good news, the water level is New Orleans has stabilized. The bad news is that it is now level with the lake. Attempts are still underway to patch the levee. In other news, the Superdome is being evacuated to the Astrodome in Houston. Roving gangs have taken control of the city and it is just generally a bad situation. I will have more to post when I have more time this afternoon.

August 30, 2005

Patching the levee unsuccessful, emergency response losing control

The worst case scenario is playing out in New Orleans tonight. Devastation is complete and emergency response officials are losing control. Rescuers have been ordered to ignore bodies for now and focus on getting all survivors out of the area. Plans are still underway for the complete evacuation of the Superdome and all hospitals.

The attempt to patch the levee was unsuccessful and the pumps in the area have failed. The rising water is expected to cause the failure of all pumps in the area. Up to 15 feet of additional water can be expected in many areas. By noon tomorrow there should be 9 feet of water on St. Charles Ave. All of Orleans Parish and very possibly Jefferson Parish are expected to be completely submerged, possibly to the level of 3 feet above sea level. The entire east bank looks to be a loss. On the west bank of the river, conditions are far better than expected. While wind damage is wide spread, flooding seems to be well under control.

All across the city, police are losing control. There are widespread reports of shooting, looting, carjackings, and more in almost all areas. Martial law has been declared and the situation looks very dire. This comes in the face of the governor ordering the complete evacuation of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes.

How you can help the hurricane survivors

I know we all want to help those who have survived the storm. Accordingly, below is a list of aid agencies published by CNN. I personally recommend the Red Cross.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists these organizations for those seeking to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina:

Donate cash

American Red Cross (800) HELP NOW (435-7669) English; (800) 257-7575 Spanish

Operation Blessing (800) 436-6348

America's Second Harvest (800) 344-8070

To donate cash or volunteer

Adventist Community Services (800) 381-7171

Catholic Charities, USA (703) 549-1390

Christian Disaster Response (941) 956-5183 or (941) 551-9554

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (800) 848-5818

Church World Service (800) 297-1516

Convoy of Hope (417) 823-8998

Lutheran Disaster Response (800) 638-3522

Mennonite Disaster Service (717) 859-2210

Nazarene Disaster Response (888) 256-5886

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (800) 872-3283

Salvation Army (800) SAL-ARMY (725-2769)

Southern Baptist Convention -- Disaster Relief (800) 462-8657, ext. 6133

United Methodist Committee on Relief (800) 554-8583

Governor orders complete evacuation of New Orleans

In a press conference this afternoon, the Governor of Louisiana ordered a complete evacuation of New Orleans, including all shelters, rescue centers, and hospitals. The Army Corps of Engineers revealed that the levy breaches have no yet been fixed and, in fact, one is now 300 feet long. The mayor of New Orleans listed his priorities as 1) evacuating those still stranded around the city, 2) fixing the breaches in the levee, and 3) caring for and evacuating the Superdome, hospitals, and all other shelters.

UPDATE: WWL-TV Reporter quotes officials as saying there may now be 60,000 people in the Superdome and that more people are still being urged to go there.

Hundreds feared dead in the wake of Katrina

Once again, I will try to continue to update this post rather than making numerous small ones. The damage report post will also be updated with photos and videos as I receive them. Please send submissions and tips to severestorm@gmail.com.

From Reuters:

"The devastation is greater than our worst fears," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco told a news conference. "It's totally overwhelming."

She spoke after an overnight breach in New Orleans' protective levee system allowed water from Lake Pontchartrain to flood most of the city.

In the Mississippi coastal city of Biloxi, hundreds may have been killed after being trapped in their homes when a 30-foot (9 meter) storm surge came ashore, a city spokesman said.

"It's going to be in the hundreds," spokesman Vincent Creel told Reuters. "Camille was 200, and we're looking at a lot more than that," he said, referring to Hurricane Camille, which hit the area in 1969 and destroyed swaths of Mississippi and Louisiana, killing a total of 256 people.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin reported bodies floating in the city's floodwaters.



The AP is reporting that damage at this point is estimated to be as high as $26 billion. This would easilly make Katrina the most expensive natural disaster to ever strike the United States, surpassing Hurricane Andrew's $21 billion.

WWL-TV is reporting:
Jeff Parish President. Residents will probably be allowed back in town in a week, with identification only, but only to get essentials and clothing. You will then be asked to leave and not come back for one month.

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard says there is no plumbing and the sanitary situation is getting nasty. He told WAFB-TV that he is carrying around a bag for his own human waste.

Jefferson Parish officials say schools could reopen by Dec. 1.

Video on WAFB-TV shows the Twin Spans between I-10 and Slidell broken in dozens of spots.


As of 2:40pm CDT: Jefferson Parish councilman Tom Capella says pumps working near Veterans and West Esplanade and water is receeding there. He says break in levee at 17th Street canal continues to pour water into Lakeview.

New Orleans levee is breached

This is a two hundred foot long breach in the levee on the Orleans and Jefferson Parish line. Water is rising at an inch every five minutes in some locations. Eighty percent of New Orleans is under water.

UPDATE: The Army Corps of Engineers is going to try airlifting 3,000 lb sandbags to fill the 200 ft breach in the 17th Canal Levee. Water is still rising and I will keep you updated. In the interim, anyone with a boat is asked to bring it to the Sam's Club parking lot at the corner of Airline and Clearly to assist in rescue missions. This location is being used as a base of operations and anyone who is able to get there will be brought by the National Guard to the Superdome. From there medical evacs are being brought to LSU in Baton Rouge (which has been turned into an emergency operations center). Also, according to the Drudge Report, martial law has been imposed in Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes.

UPDATE 3:50pm CDT: The Army Corps of Engineers reports that the breach is now 300 feet long and remains unpatched. Water levels are continuing to rise

August 29, 2005

Katrina damage reports

Now that reports are finally streaming in, it is time to document the damage. This report will be updated as I receive new information so please keep checking back. In Harrison County, Mississippi alone, the governor is reporting up to 80 deaths. By my count, we are dealing with a total of 94 deaths reported (including the three from the evacuation and eleven from Florida). I cannot solely scour the internet looking for video and photos but am looking to you for help. Please send any help and tips to severestorm@gmail.com.

Boil orders are in effect for Orleans and Jefferson parishes, except for Algiers and the Central Business District.

The Times-Picayune is running a blog keeping track of updates in the New Orleans area.

Here is one link sent to me from WKRG in Mobile. They are streaming video.

This is a photo found on The Drudge Report that I believe is looking down Tulane Ave from in front of the Ritz towards the Hyatt in the distance. This is at the border between the French Quarter and Treme, I believe near North Rampart.


Video from the AP on the damage in New Orleans

Slideshow from Yahoo compiling AP, Reuters, and other photos

The NY Times is running an comprehensive article reporting at least 55 dead.
The Times also has a good slide show of the aftermath.

WWL-TV is also mainting a good photo gallery and slide show of yesterday, plus one of today's flooding. They also have many video fly-overs of the city.

WAFB is running a video slide show of aerial photos of the flooding.

The Sun Herald has more photo galleries than I feel like listing.

Yahoo! can be used to generate a photo list for Katrina.

Thanks to Liz Masoner and Sarah Mitchell for their help with this report.

Call for damage reports

At this point I am sending out a call to everyone to send in your damage reports to severestorm@gmail.com with pictures if you have them. I am trying to compile a picture for everyone of what is happening. From what I have heard, downtown Mobile was flooded, the Superdome lost a huge chunk of its roof (most the outer shell), there as a small levee failure in St Bernard Parish, LA, and Mississippi is a complete mess. It seems that we may not know until tomorrow morning how bad things are there. Just because New Orleans dodged the bullet on this one, does not mean everyone escaped unharmed. A Category 5 hurricane does not just go away.

FLASHBACK: I think everyone should realize we knew this was coming. I talked about this at the beginning of the season.

New Orleans spared the worst

It seems like a miracle at the moment, but New Orleans has been spared the worst of the storm. Reports indicate damage at the Superdome and the city pumps are down. However, the levies seem to be holding. It is still too early to tell whether they will breach, but so far the situation looks a lot better than it could have been. The latest recon reports a central pressure of 926 mb and winds are likely in the ballpark of 130 mph. The fact that the hurricane passed in its current track is very lucky for everyone. Things could have been much worse. With that said, there have already been reports for three storm related deaths.

Katrina weakens a bit more, New Orleans Under the Gun


Katrina has weakened somewhat to a strong category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph and 910mb central pressure. It's a waiting game to see if she wobbles a bit and spares a direct hit on New Orleans proper and just how bad she is when she moves ashore.

August 28, 2005

Katrina weakens slightly, New Orleans still screwed.


The storm has slowed down and is still moving NNW at 9 knots. It is tracking just to the west of New Orleans proper and this is a bad thing. Latest observations show the storm at 160mph and 904mb which is interesting. The drop in winds is not surprising and in fact the earlier 175mph numbers may have been incorrect. These numbers were based on flight level winds from Hurricane Hunter aircraft and looking back at the data the National Hurricane Center has revised the windspeeds lower. This is not to say that the storm is not strong. IT IS. A sustained pressure of 904mb is incredibly impressive and significantly stronger than Andrew and really any other hurricane we have ever seen in our lifetimes.

Apparently a eyewall replacement cycle is happening which could cause weakening within the storm, but will result in a widening wind field which really is a wash. Winds may be slightly decreased near the eyewall but it really does not matter since the winds are SO strong.

Video from NOLA

Streaming video from WWL-TV CBS New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina landfall resources

At this point all evacuations and preparations should be nearing completion. Below is the latest computer model suite.

As you can see, New Orleans is resting squarely in the cross-hairs. We are beginning to prepare to transition from forecasting to tracking the storm as it makes landfall. People should understand that this has potential to be one of the greatest natural disasters that this county has ever faced. As you begin to watch the storm come ashore, I would like to give you all a few links to check.

The National Data Buoy Center has a compilation of observations useful in the area.
Click on the map to go to their site for specific observation, or the above link for a list.

Check with the National Weather Service in New Orleans for radar observations.

Please understand that the radar will likely be knocked out by the storm before the hurricane gets too close. After that the radar in Mobile will probably be the most useful.

For the latest satellite imagery, check with the Naval Research Lab's Monterey Marine Meteorology Division.


P.S. Don't look now, but there is another tropical depression in the Atlantic.

I'm going to try to ignore it for now but the models call for strengthening.

Katrina continues to strengthen,



According to the latest VORTEX data message Katrina has strengthened to 902mb and 184mph.

"I do not want to create a panic, but..." - Mayor of New Orleans

Urgent Weather Message from NWS New Orleans

WWUS74 KLIX 281550
NPWLIX

URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
1011 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005


DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED

HURRICANE KATRINA
A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED
STRENGTH...RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969.

MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER. AT
LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL
FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY
DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL.
PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD
FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE
BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING SOME
WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.

HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY...A
FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD...AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH
AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY
VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE
ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS...PETS...AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE
WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.

POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS...AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN
AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING
INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY
THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING...BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW
CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE
KILLED.

AN INLAND HURRICANE WIND WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS NEAR
HURRICANE FORCE...OR FREQUENT GUSTS AT OR ABOVE HURRICANE FORCE...ARE
CERTAIN WITHIN THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS.

ONCE TROPICAL STORM AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ONSET...DO NOT VENTURE
OUTSIDE!

LAZ038-040-050-056>070-282100-
ASSUMPTION-LIVINGSTON-LOWER JEFFERSON-LOWER LAFOURCHE-
LOWER PLAQUEMINES-LOWER ST. BERNARD-LOWER TERREBONNE-ORLEANS-
ST. CHARLES-ST. JAMES-ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST-ST. TAMMANY-TANGIPAHOA-
UPPER JEFFERSON-UPPER LAFOURCHE-UPPER PLAQUEMINES-UPPER ST. BERNARD-
UPPER TERREBONNE-
1011 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005

Hurricane Katrina expected to devastate New Orleans

I am going to make this very simple. If you are in Mississippi or Lousiana near or below sea level, GET OUT!!! This is one of the largest hurricanes in the history of North America. This is forecasted to hit New Orleans and if it does, the city will be devastated. The levies will breach and the winds will be like on giant F3 tornado. This very scenario has been on femmes worst case natural disaster list for years. This storm makes Hurricane Camille look small. For an idea of what New Orleans is dealing with, check out this report.

Current sustained winds are at 175 mph and the central pressure is now down to 906 mb.

The latest model runs all call for a direct strike on New Orleans. The only model bringing the storm away from the city is the Eta model. The Eta model NEVER does well with any tropical systems so I am paying little attention to it.

This huge burst in strength is being fuelled by an area of very high Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential in the Gulf. Look below and you can see how much energy is out there to fuel this storm. While slight weakening is likely, significant weakening is not expected.

Bigger than Camille, Time to Pray



A DROP IN THE EYE
GAVE A CENTRAL PRESSURE OF 907 MB. KATRINA IS COMPARABLE IN
INTENSITY TO HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969...ONLY LARGER.


Andrew hit with a central pressure of 922mb.

Camille hit with a central pressure of 909mb.

Right now, Katrina is at 907mb. If she stays anywhere around here (and there is NO reason to think she will weaken dramatically other than natural weakening of a big storm) it will be absolutely devastating.

Winds of 175, which are more than enough to make plans take off in. SUSTAINED WINDS.

For comparison, this is similar to a F3 tornado.

August 27, 2005

Katrina strengthens, New Orleans battens down

Watches and Warnings are up for the Gulf Coast in anticipation of a Monday landfall of Hurricane Katrina.

The latest advisory shows a central pressure of 939mb and maximum sustained winds at 115 mph making her a borderline Category 3 hurricane. SHIPS intensity model is still calling for a STRONG category 4 landfall between 140 and 150mph. Models are tightening up with a hit around New Orleans proper.

This is no joke, this would be a completely devastating hurricane strike, with absolutely no precedent in the United States, not even compared to Andrew. New Orleans is anywhere from 0-30 feet below sea level (with 0 being at the Mississippi River).

Here is a quote from the PBS show NOW
WALTER MAESTRI: New Orleans is, if you think about it, it's a soup bowl. Think of a soup bowl. And the soup bowl-- the high edges of the soup bowl-- is the Mississippi River. It's amazing to say, but the highest elevation in the city of New Orleans is at the Mississippi River.

DANIEL ZWERDLING: Maestri says, imagine what happens if a hurricane like Andrew comes raging up from the Gulf:

WALTER MAESTRI: The hurricane is spinning counter-clockwise. It's been pushing in front of it water from the Gulf of Mexico for days. It's now got a wall of water in front of it some 30, 40 feet high. As it approaches the levies of the-- the-- that surround the city, it tops those levees. As the storm continues to pass over. Now Lake Ponchetrain, that water from Lake Ponchartrain is now pushed on to that - those population which has been fleeing from the western side and everybody's caught in the middle. The bowl now completely fills. And we've now got the entire community underwater some 20, 30 feet underwater. Everything is lost.

DANIEL ZWERDLING: Remember the levees which the Army built, to hold smaller floods out of the bowl? Maestri says now those levees would doom the city. Because they'd trap the water in.

WALTER MAESTRI: It's going to look like a massive shipwreck. There's going to be-- there's going to be, you know-- everything that that the water has carried in is going to be there. Alligators, moccasins, you know every kind of rodent that you could think of.

All of your sewage treatment plants are under water. And of course the material is flowing free in the community. Disease becomes a distinct possibility now. The petrochemicals that are produced all up and down the Mississippi River --much of that has floated into this bowl. I mean this has become, you know, the biggest toxic waste dump in the world now. Is the city of New Orleans because of what has happened.

If you, or anyone you know is in or around New Orleans, I cannot strongly urge you enough to leave the city and seek higher ground. There is simply too much of a danger of extreme and prolonged flooding to stay in the city. Even a skirting hit would do serious damage to life and property and it simply is not worth it to stay.

If Jim Cantore shows up on your doorstep, it is going to get interesting.

Katrina taking aim on New Orleans

I think the graphics below speak best for our current situation. Let me make this simple: If you live in New Orleans, board up and get out. At the last advisory, winds were 115 mph and central pressure was estimated at 940 mb (although this may be a little high). Needless to say, a direct impact on New Orleans will be absolutely devastating.

Hurricane Katrina taking aim at New Orleans

Katrina has continued to strengthen and looks to be directly threatening New Orleans. Those you in the Biloxi and New Orleans area need to immediately begin preparing for a major hurricane. The current forecast calls for a Category Four hurricane to strike the central Gulf Coast on Monday. However, intensity is very hard to predict. With regards to track, the models have been locking onto a track right around New Orleans.

In this area of Louisiana, for every foot of storm surge, the water can travel a mile inland. With a Category Four hurricane, a storm surge of 13 - 18 feet can be expected. Currently sustained winds are at 110 mph with a central pressure of 963 mb. Additional strengthening is likely.

August 26, 2005

Katrina reaches Category 2, continues to strengthen

As expected, a special advisory has upgraded Katrina to a Category 2 hurricane. Additional strengthening is likely today as Katrina could become a Category 4 hurricane within the weekend.

Katrina intensifying rapidly

Now that Katrina is over the Gulf of Mexico, she is gaining strength very quickly. Latest recon indicated a central pressure down to 971 mb and sustained winds of at least 90 mph. The hurricane hunter is still on site so more will be said about this later. For now notice the westward shift in the models tracks. However, it is clear that the models do not have a very good idea on Katrina. This is actually very typical of both systems that are rapidly deepening, and those that just crossed land.

A nice resource for tropical models

I have received a couple emails asking for me to talk about the differences in the computer models that meteorologists use to forecast tropical systems. For this purpose, a would like to refer everyone to a NHC site for just this purpose. As an FYI, in general my favorite tropical model in the UKMET. If any of you are interested in mid-lattitude models, just let me know. I would be happy to make a post about that.

Katrina downgraded to a tropical storm, for now

After making landfall over the Broward / Miami Dade county line, Katrina was downgraded to a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph and a central pressure of 990 mb. However, I think this is going to be a very short-lived weakening. Katrina is already out over the Gulf of Mexico and barely clipped Florida. The eye is clearly still intact on radar and Katrina is forecast to regain hurricane status very quickly.

The SHIPS and GFDL models, our two most dependable for intensity, both strengthen Katrina into a major hurricane before a second U.S. landfall in the Florida panhandle.
Here we go again... I think everyone up there should know the routine by now. My gut tells me that Katrina could mean business in the Gulf. NHC seems to be feeling the same thing in their forecast. I think they may be holding back as their latest forecast discussion is sounding much more serious. Already at least four people have been killed as a result of Katrina and over one million are without power.
Tracking God's Fury:
ATLANTIC
Tropical Storm Maria
Tropical Storm Nate
Hurricane Ophelia
EASTERN PACIFIC
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