Outspoken hurricane scientist Ivor van Heerden cut loose by LSU

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:38 PM GMT on April 14, 2009

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Louisiana State University (LSU) will not renew the contract of controversial hurricane scientist Ivor van Heerden, according to nola.com . Dr. van Heerden has been stripped of his title as deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center, and will lose his job in May 2010. The Director of the LSU Hurricane Center, engineering professor Marc Levitan, resigned from that post in protest over the firing of van Heerden. LSU has given no reason why it is removing Dr. van Heerden, but said it was not because of his performance. Van Heerden, who holds a Ph.D. degree in marine sciences from LSU, was one of the most outspoken scientists on the vulnerability of New Orleans before Katrina struck in 2005. He worked extensively with FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and political figures at the local, state, and U.S. Congressional levels to try to improve New Orleans' disaster readiness. In the aftermath of the storm, he provided support for the search and rescue efforts and plugging of the levee breaches, then headed one of the teams assigned to figure out what caused the levees to fail. PBS's NOVA did a nice story on him in 2006, featuring interviews before and after Katrina. He was highly critical of the Army Corps of Engineers and politicians at the local, state, and federal level for allowing the Katrina disaster to happen, and for their abysmal response to the storm's aftermath.

It is no surprise that van Heerden has been fired, as he has also been very critical of the LSU administration. His May 2006 book, The Storm: What went wrong and why during Hurricane Katrina--the inside story from one Louisiana scientist, (see my review), tells of a case in November 2005 after Katrina where two LSU assistant chancellors told him to stop talking to the press, because it was "hurting LSU's quest for federal funding across the board." Van Heerden further remarked:

A balanced view on research is lacking at many universities obsessed with competing for the big brownie points, where upper administrators' egos and boasting rights are more important than solving problems to the benefit of society at large. You would think that our work before, during, and after Katrina might have turned some heads at LSU, but not really. Witness the gag order placed on me by the school during the levee investigation a couple of months later (soon rescinded with apologies)

Van Heerden is a big proponent of building a flood protection system that will protect Louisiana from a Category 5 hurricane. He proposes doing this by restoring wetlands, building armored levees, and installing huge flood gates on Lake Pontchartrain, similar to what the Dutch use to protect their country from the North Sea. I especially like his emphasis on the importance of doing good science. He is not a fan of what politicians and business leaders do with good science:

The science is the easy part. The hard part is overcoming the narrow-mindedness and selfishness of politics and business as usual. For decades the two have undermined plan after plan to restore wetlands, build new ones, and thereby protect people and property. They have played hell with improving the existing levee system. We must do better now, or we can kiss it all good-bye for good. I was not exaggerating in the introduction when I said that politics and business as usual in Louisiana will eventually put everything below Interstate 10 underwater. Science and engineering can save the day, but not if they're censored or manipulated. If that's to be the case, just shelve them and start packing. It's over.

According to an article in The Nation, Dr. van Heerden is scheduled to testify in a trial that begins in federal court on April 20. Judge Stanwood Duval will rule on a claim by six homeowners that the Corps failed to heed environmental laws in building and maintaining the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet shipping shortcut, which they claim led to the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans during Katrina. A second trial will begin shortly after that--a large class action suit seeking hundreds of millions in damages from the Corps. When Dr. van Heerden was first asked to testify at these trials in spring 2007, LSU's then-president, Sean O'Keefe, told plaintiffs' attorneys that if van Heerden testified against the Corps he would be fired (O'Keefe had served as head of NASA under George W. Bush between 2001 - 2005, and stepped down as LSU chancellor in January 2008). According to van Heerden, the LSU president said "nobody from LSU was going to embarrass the Bush administration or upset the major Republican companies that benefit from Corps of Engineers contracts." LSU has officially blocked Dr. van Heerden from testifying as an "expert witness" in the upcoming trials, but he can still testify as a "fact witness".

Regardless of where he winds up next, I'm sure Van Heerden will continue to voice his valuable views on the science of what is best for Louisiana and New Orleans. In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. van Heerden said Friday he would appeal the college's decision and was considering legal action. "Before going that route, I hope LSU will recognize the signal they've sent to the world is that academic freedom does not exist at LSU. The folks who are going to lose in this is LSU, not me. I will find a job rather easily. There have already been some offers."

Less politics and better science would go a long ways towards reducing our vulnerability to hurricanes. Ivor van Heerden has been a much-needed critical voice in advocating this, and I applaud his tenacity in calling it as he sees it. Louisiana very much needs Dr. van Heerden's input over the coming decades on how to move ahead to protect the vulnerable coast of the state against the twin threats of hurricanes and rising sea levels. The move by Louisiana's flagship university to silence his voice should concern everyone in the path of the next Katrina.

Jeff Masters

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FYI, blog folks, no kidding, if you have a desktop PC, open the cover and blow the dust out of it. Heat accumulates via the dust like a blanket and cooks the boards and pressures the fan bearings/bushings, in particular if your power supply fan or processor fan has any accumulation of dust on them. Think of it like a propeller on a plane, you don't want anything to interfere with its performance. Use compressed air, don't try to wipe them off. I thought I ran a clean ship and was suprised at the crapola in my case on the mother hen PC. Consider it part or your hurricane prep work :)

Homework if you will.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
Quoting TampaSpin:


I played around with this idea in my head for a while and today i just decided to put something together. Its on a saved spreadsheet and when 1 rating changes it could affect the outcome.


Umm I can see what you have, but there is nothing to tell us how you got it? A mathematical formula requires variable and constants.. you don't show how, where or even why the ratings are the values you put in?
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Please,if you want to see the truth about the Levee failures from real people who lived there,and some of the science involved. Check out this unique Presentation by Levee.org.

John Goodman a New Orleans resident explains here as well.
Also Ivor van Heerden and Harry Shearer also speak too.

This one is a must for any County or Parish from the 46% of Americans living behind Federally Built Levves.

Video Testimony and more

Levees.org
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
Complete Blog Refresh, with New Weather/CritterCam
Mirror Site
Current Home weather station data.

Daily Area of Interest
Click to enlarge
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Quoting surfmom:
Wow Patrap -- they're not sleeping sheeple in NOLA........walking the talk


Lotsa folks participated from ALL walks of Life surfmom.

It was a Quiet,peaceful voicing of Legitimate concerns.

Voices of reason for LSU to Digest.

Democracy in action,powered by People.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
650. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Subject: Cyclonic Storm Bijli over northwest Bay of Bengal:

Yellow message (Orissa and West Bengal)

At 21:00 PM UTC, Cyclonic Storm Bijli over west-central and adjoining northwest Bay of Bengal moved in a northeasterly direction and lay centered over northwest Bay
of Bengal near 20.0N 87.5Em or about 100 kms east-southeast of Paradip, 180 kms south of
Digha, and 350 kms southwest of Khepupara, Bangladesh. The system is likely to move in a northeasterly direction towards Bangladesh coast. The radar observations continue to show sign of weakening of the system.

Under its influence, rain/thundershower at many places with isolated heavy falls is likely over coastal area of Orissa and West Bengal during next 36 hours.

Gale force winds speed reaching 60-70 km/h gusting to 80 km/h are likely along and off Orissa coast during next 24 hours and West Bengal coast during next 36 hours. Sea condition will be very rough to high.

Fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea along and off these coasts.

Forecast and Intensity
======================
Current: 19.5N 87.0E - 40 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
24 HRS: 21.0N 89.5E - 35-40 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
36 HRS: 21.5 91.5E - 35-40 knots (Cyclonic Storm)
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46548
Quoting Ossqss:


Haha, I am in the mix for a cam also. Been looking for several months, just dont like the fact of leaving a PC on all the time. I have been tryin to ID one that can work via router. Have you seen anything in that areana?

BTW, thought mine was OK and opened it up to a pile of dust in it and on the fans. That is a killer of PC's


I'm with you i don't want to have to leave my laptop on 24/7. I haven't seen anything yet that lets the webcam run from a router. I've been looking for a few weeks know. It would be perfect if a storm comes our way. I'll let you know if i find anything.
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Quoting hahaguy:

UMM? lol


Haha, I am in the mix for a cam also. Been looking for several months, just dont like the fact of leaving a PC on all the time. I have been tryin to ID one that can work via router. Have you seen anything in that areana?

BTW, thought my PC was OK and opened it up to a pile of dust in it and on the fans. That is a killer of PC's
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
Quoting G35Wayne:
the two tone talk the two tone talk of the two tone talk and the other tone talk alwys knows the real two tone talk the two tone talk.........ok thank you

UMM? lol
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the two tone talk the two tone talk of the two tone talk and the other tone talk alwys knows the real two tone talk the two tone talk.........ok thank you
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Quoting charlottefl:
Just outta curiosity what was the source of that temp reading. I think I know, but what does it say in the scroll box at the bottom?



Charlottefl- sorry I didn't respond to your question earlier today- I didn't see it until now. My mom called me with a problem and I had to go help her out. She's 80 years old and going blind- thank God she lives around the corner from me. Anyhow- I went back to where I saw that temp. report and it was a PWS from KFLLEHIG9- map shows the location of it on Richmond Ave., just 1 block north from Leeland Heights Blvd. I didn't realize it was a PWS at the time that I checked, but I wasn't disputing your information, I was just amazed that the temp. was that hot. But seeing how low the humidity was at the time, and the location inland, it surely is possible. South Florida has been more like the dry southwestern states lately. Kinda strange.
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Quoting hahaguy:
That's interesting tampa. I'm glad you did the math cause I'm not good at math lol.


I played around with this idea in my head for a while and today i just decided to put something together. Its on a saved spreadsheet and when 1 rating changes it could affect the outcome.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Wow Patrap -- they're not sleeping sheeple in NOLA........walking the talk
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That's interesting tampa. I'm glad you did the math cause I'm not good at math lol.
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I have devised a Mathmatical and Statistical Formula to come up with my 2009 Tropical Outlook. It is in a Blog format for you to input for discussion. Thanks.

http://tampaspinsweather.webs.com/apps/blog/show/813074-tropical-formula
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448


Mine is attached to a pole that runs up the chimney -- do you have surge protection?? We've got lightening rods -- otherwise I think it would have been fried several times over
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It probably wouldn't survive a storm though.
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Thanks. Yeah I just decided I could live with 7ft. :) As opposed to ladders and broken limbs ;)

Quoting hahaguy:
I bet it is hard trying to put your station on the roof with all the angles.
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Quoting hahaguy:
I bet it is hard trying to put your station on the roof with all the angles.


I have helped some friends mount them on the fascia or chimney with satellite dish bases and pole. They can be easily adapted to the station pole and supported accordingly. They dont weigh much. L8R all.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
I bet it is hard trying to put your station on the roof with all the angles.
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I like your setup there charlotte.
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LOL Thanks.

Quoting severstorm:
Hey nice weather station and i'll be talkin to ya
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Hey nice weather station and i'll be talkin to ya
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Well 33ft might be the standard but my station said to put it 24ft so i did. I just could not get up the telephone pole for 33ft. LOL
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Looks great CharLeh weather international :)
Be well.

PS, don't over look using some of the old sat dish mounts. The can work well sometimes.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
Actually my anemometer in Charlotte is a foot lower, and the highest gust so far has been 23mph, and that's without even going through a summmer with thunderstorms, so. (Ironically, that was in one of the outer bands of Ike)

Quoting severstorm:
I fixed that same problem w/mine. Iran 24ft of pvc up the side of my house tied it down to the roof. Before highest wind gust was 12mph nom it was 25.6. I also live where there are quite a few trees
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I fixed that same problem w/mine. Iran 24ft of pvc up the side of my house tied it down to the roof. Before highest wind gust was 12mph nom it was 25.6. I also live where there are quite a few trees
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I know the standard is 33ft. but to be honest I don't live 33ft above the ground so..lol..it's ok w me.
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Yeah it's difficult to get one of those on a roof like ours, had a 10mph gust today I think.

Quoting severstorm:
Nice setup there. I'll bet your wind speeds are not that high.
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Nice setup there. I'll bet your wind speeds are not that high.
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Photobucket

Photobucket
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Firing of prominent LSU scientist raises questions

4/16/2009, 4:34 p.m. CDT
CAIN BURDEAU
The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — NEW ORLEANS (AP) ? Ivor van Heerden, a sandy-haired South African scientist with a penchant for levees and coastal environments, delighted in his role after Hurricane Katrina as one of the few scientists in Louisiana willing to criticize the Army Corps of Engineers.

With his field instruments in hand, van Heerden was a go-to source for news organizations, talk radio and documentary film makers. His message was consistent: The corps was at fault for poor levee engineering and had to be held accountable.

Van Heerden claims Louisiana State University fired him April 3 because of his outspokenness and because the school was afraid of losing federal funding. LSU officials have declined to discuss van Heerden's firing, saying it is a personnel matter.

On Thursday, about 30 supporters of van Heerden held signs and marched in front of a LSU Health Sciences Center library in New Orleans, shouting "L-S-U, shame on you!"

The signs read: "LSU take the politics out of hurricane studies" and "LSU ? stop gagging experts."

"Van Heerden was one of the few to step out and tell the truth that it was corps' engineering," said Ray Broussard, a 50-year-old maritime photographer. He lived in the Lakeview neighborhood when Katrina hit Aug. 29, 2005, and his home was flooded with 7 feet of water.

About 50 levee breaches contributed to the deaths of about 1,300 people after Katrina struck. The Army Corps has spent billions to try to repair and upgrade hundreds of miles of levees by 2011.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
ok i can not get this thing to copy and paste my weather station
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I'll post a couple pics of my setup here in a min
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Like my aunt just sold an orange grove in desoto county. Her temp there could be 8-10 degrees colder than the small city of Arcadia.


Quoting severstorm:
OK found someone who knows what i'm talkin about. My lowest temp this winter was 20.5 and i'd have to check my weather station history to prove it.
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OK found someone who knows what i'm talkin about. My lowest temp this winter was 20.5 and i'd have to check my weather station history to prove it.
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Actually asked Dr. M, he said the all time record low here was 24 in like 1894. Pretty close.

Photobucket
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It got down to 26 or 27 hold on I'll find the pic to prove it lol. Crazy cold for this far south. My station in PC recorded like 24.8 or something crazy like that.


Quoting severstorm:
Charlottefl Do you get colder or that far south cooler than most areas. again i'm always 5 to 8 degrees cooler than most except when its cloudy or raining.
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Yea WD has 15 million switches and boxes you have to check but I finally got it. I'd aim it to the left, but you'd just get more sun lol.

Quoting Ossqss:
I can see it!
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Charlottefl Do you get colder or that far south cooler than most areas. again i'm always 5 to 8 degrees cooler than most except when its cloudy or raining.
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I can see it!
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
That's what I was trying to say. It's literally like a desert out here right now. Sand and dead grass. And there's no water source nearby to cool things down. There is always a margin of error, comes with any piece of machinery, but it's close.

Quoting severstorm:
Charlottefl, I think your station is close to right. I live in zephyrhill Fl and i'm always 5 to 8 degrees higher than the airport. I'm also out in nowear land. My highest temp. this year so far is 95.8 last week.
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Charlottefl, I think your station is close to right. I live in zephyrhill Fl and i'm always 5 to 8 degrees higher than the airport. I'm also out in nowear land. My highest temp. this year so far is 95.8 last week.
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I'll try and dig up some el cheapo's if I can find any.
Quoting Ossqss:
Cmon Charlotte, you could be the first webcam sunglasses user in the country. I bet it works, use polarized if you havem :)
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Cmon Charlotte, you could be the first webcam sunglasses user in the country. I bet it works, use polarized if you havem :)
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
These are local airport conditions 5 miles from here. International Airport. Crazy humidity values in FL are this low right now.

Fairly Similar

Clear
Humidity: 22%
Dew Point: 42 %uFFFDF
Wind: 6 mph from the NNW

Pressure: 30.00 in (Steady)
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 3 out of 16
Clouds:
Clear -
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 30 ft

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huh...long-range forcast for West Palm has highs in the upper 60's - lower 70's a week from tomorrow!...hope it's true!
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11517
607. beell
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The humidity is 7% less than what RSW is reporting right now. I actually believe it's accurate.+ or - whatever error margin the instrument has.

Quoting SWFLgazer:
Charlotte: I'd be skeptical of one of those readings. The humidity on one of the 2 has to be incorrect.
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Thanks keeper
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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