Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav: About to Huff & Puff & Blow New Orleans Away

This past Wednesday morning I wrote a rather alarming post about Hurricane Gustav, and noted that it was aimed at a point just west of New Orleans. I must now shamefully admit that it was all wild speculation. The fact is that at the time, there were no computer models showing exactly what would happen with the storm almost a week down the road, and no respectable forecasters were willing to even speculate on the matter.

Irresponsible on my part? Yes. Wildly alarmist without any facts to back me up? Sadly, yes. But I reasoned that if Fox News can get away with making sh*t up, well by gosh, so can I.

So here we are four days later, and what's happening? Gustav is a strong category 3 hurricane and is expected to hit Louisiana about 60 miles to the west of New Orleans. That would put The Big Easy squarely in the most destructive part of the storm, and subject both the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain to storm surges of as much as 17 feet. There is also the possibility that Gustav may re-intensify to category 4 status by the time that happens.

Katrina, in contrast, hit land as a category 3 hurricane to the east of New Orleans. Despite the flooding, the city was actually spared the worst of the storm.

So will the rebuilt levees hold this time around? With New Orleans now under a mandatory evacuation order, no one seems particularly optimistic about the prospects.

What does seem likely, however, is that by next week we'll be debating whether it's worth rebuilding the city yet again.

Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale:

0 thoughtful ramblings: