Isaac slamming Gulf Coast with damaging floods, tornadoes

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:44 PM GMT on August 30, 2012

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Slow-moving Tropical Storm Isaac continues to hammer coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida's Panhandle with tornadoes, torrential rains, high winds, and a damaging storm surge. Over the past 24 hours, destructive tornadoes have touched down in Biloxi and Pascagoula, Mississippi, and one person was killed by a tree falling on a car in Pearl River County, Mississippi. A major flood event is occurring in Slidell, Louisiana, where Isaac's storm surge filled Bayou Bonfouca and the W-14 Canal, inundating portions of the city with 1 - 5 feet of water. While Isaac is now a weakening minimal-strength tropical storm, it is still a potent rainmaker, and will cause damaging floods all along its path for the next three days. Major river flooding is occurring or is about to occur on a number of rivers in the landfall area. In north central Tangipahoa Parish in southeast Louisiana and southwestern Pike County in southern Mississippi, a mandatory evacuation has been ordered for all low-lying areas and along the Tangipahoa River, due to the potential failure of the Lake Tangipahoa dam. Audubon Park in New Orleans, recorded 11.19" of rain as of 7 pm Wednesday night. An earlier amount of 19" was found to be erroneous, and this is not a 24-hour precipitation record for the city. According to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, New Orleans' greatest 24-hour rainfall on record is 14.01" on July 24 - 25, 1933. The Louisiana official state 24-hour record is 22.00" on Aug. 29, 1962 at Hakberry, although U.S. Army Corps of Engineers `Storm Studies' mentions a 23.80" falling in a 24-hour period at Millers Island during a TS on Aug 7-8, 1940. Storm total was 37.50" over a 60-hour period there during that event.

A few other rainfall totals from Isaac, through 11 am EDT on Thursday:

15.02" Marion, MS
10.09" Hattiesburg, MS
10.15" Gulfport, MS
9.80" Slidell, LA
9.74" Biloxi, MS
8.52" Mobile, AL
5.57" Baton Rouge, LA


Figure 1. Isaac's winds and storm surge overcomes the seawall and floods South Beach Boulevard in Waveland, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis). Waveland experienced a storm surge in excess of 5' for 36 hours.

Isaac's storm surge winds down
Storm surge levels along the coast of Mississippi and surrounding areas are gradually receding, and the surge has finally fallen below 5' at Waveland, which experienced a storm surge in excess of 5' for 36 hours. Isaac's storm surge levels were characteristic of a Category 2 hurricane, and lasted for an exceptionally long period of time. Waveland, Mississippi experienced a peak surge of 8' and peak storm tide of 9' (surge plus the natural high tide), which beat the levels that occurred during Category 2 Hurricane Gustav of 2008 (7' of storm tide.) The peak 11.06' storm surge at Shell Beach, which is in Lake Borgne, 30 miles southeast of New Orleans, exceeded the 9.5' surge recorded there during Gustav. According to an article in nola.com, Isaac pushed a storm surge of 13.6' into Lake Borgne, on the east side of New Orleans. This is not far from the 15.5' storm surge Hurricane Katrina brought to the location. It is quite possible that Isaac's storm surge might have breached levees of the east side of New Orleans, flooding areas inhabited by tens of thousands of people, had the Army Corps of Engineers not completed their $14.5 billion upgrade to the New Orleans flood defenses this year. I estimate that storm surge damage from Isaac will exceed $2 billion. Isaac has likely caused $2.5 billion in insured damage not related to flooding, insurance firm Eqecat estimated yesterday. Here were some of the peak storm surge values that were recorded at NOAA tide gauges during Isaac:

11.1' Shell Beach, LA
8.0' Waveland, MS
3.5' Pensacola, FL
4.6' Pascagoula, MS
3.8' Mobile, AL


Figure 2. A TRMM satellite 3-D view of rainfall on Aug. 28 showed a few very powerful thunderstorms near Isaac's eye were reaching heights of almost 17 km (10.6 miles.) Intense bands of rain around Isaac were occasionally dropping rain at a rate of over 2.75 inches per hour. Image credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce.

Isaac's storm surge on the Mississippi River
A storm surge estimated at 12' moved up the Mississippi in Plaquemines Parish near Port Sulphur, LA, near 8:30 pm EDT Tuesday, causing overtopping of the levees and flooding of homes in the mandatory evacuation areas behind the levees. These levees were not part of the $14.5 billion levee upgrade New Orleans got after Hurricane Katrina, and were not rated to Category 3 hurricane strength, like the levees protecting New Orleans are. Since salt water is more dense than fresh water, the surge travelled along the bottom of the river, with the fresh water flow of the river lying on top. The surge continued upriver, and before reaching New Orleans, encountered an underwater barrier in Plaquemines Parish. This barrier was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers beginning on August 15, in order to keep salt water from moving upstream and contaminating drinking water for Plaquemines Parish and New Orleans. Salt water had made it 90 miles upriver to the outskirts of New Orleans, due to the low flow rate of the river (which had dropped 7' below average in height due to the drought of 2012.) According to a spokesperson for the National Weather Service River Forecast Office, this barrier was probably able to completely block the flow of salt water upriver due to Isaac's storm surge, and no salt water made it as far as New Orleans. However, the massive intrusion of ocean water into the river channel caused the mighty Mississippi's fresh water flow to back up for hundreds of miles. Water levels were elevated by 10' in New Orleans (103 miles upstream from the mouth of the Mississippi), 8' in Baton Rouge (228 miles upstream), and 1.4' at Knox Landing, an amazing 314 miles upstream.

Hurricane Kirk in the Central Atlantic
Hurricane Kirk intensified into a 75 mph Category 1 hurricane this morning, becoming the busy 2012 Atlantic hurricane season's fifth hurricane. With the season's mid-point of September 10 still almost 2 weeks away, we've already had 12 named storms and 5 hurricanes, which is close to what an entire season experiences in an average year (11 named storms and 6 hurricanes.) Kirk should stay well out to sea and not trouble any land areas.


Figure 3. Morning satellite image of Hurricane Kirk.

Tropical Storm Leslie forms in the Central Atlantic
Tropical Storm Leslie has formed in the Central Atlantic. Leslie's formation on August 30 puts 2012 in 2nd place for earliest formation date of the season's 12th storm. Only 1995 had an earlier formation date of the season's 12th storm. With records dating back to 1851, this year is only the second time 8 total storms have formed in August. The other year was 2004, when the first storm of the season formed on August 1 (Alex), and the 8th storm (Hermine)
formed on August 29th. Leslie is organizing quickly, and appears destined to become a hurricane before the week is out. Fortunately, Hurricane Kirk is weakening the ridge of high pressure to the north of Leslie, and Leslie is expected to turn to the northwest and miss the Lesser Antilles Islands. In the long term, it remains unclear if Leslie will follow Kirk and fully recurve out to sea. The latest 2 runs of the GFS model have predicted that Leslie will recurve out to sea and not threaten any land areas, but the latest 2 runs of the ECMWF model have predicted that the trough of low pressure pulling Kirk to the northeast will not be strong enough to recurve Leslie out to sea. Instead, the ECMWF predicts that a ridge of high pressure will build in early next week, forcing Leslie more to the northwest, making the storm a potential threat to Bermuda, then to the Northeast U.S. and Canada in 8 - 11 days.

Jeff Masters

Hurricane Isaac Louisiana (apphotos)
Two men walk in the storm surge from Isaac, on Lakeshore Drive along Lake Pontchartrain, as the storm approaches landfall, in New Orleans, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Hurricane Isaac Louisiana
west palm beach flood isaac (alishu)
West Palm Beach flood from Isaac
west palm beach flood isaac
Hurricane Isaac Impacts Navarre Beach & Pier10 (jennjeff1)
Hurricane Isaac versus Navarre Beach Pier, the longest concrete pier on the Gulf of Mexico
Hurricane Isaac Impacts Navarre Beach & Pier10

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Quoting GTcooliebai:
252 hrs. Nova Scotia is next.


That is a close call for the US and bad news for Canada.
Notice the trough over the Great Lakes, would be a nice cool down.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
Quoting yqt1001:


I think it is because every Hurricane Daniel has threatened Hawaii as a major hurricane at some point in its life.

Ironically this year Daniel unexpectedly became a major hurricane, the remnants did actually pass just south of Hawaii too.
Yeah that always happen maybe Daniel would affect Hawaii as a hurricane in a future reincarnation.
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252 hrs. Nova Scotia is next.

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Quoting GTcooliebai:
216 hrs. Bermuda takes a direct hit!

And no Michael.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
216 hrs. Bermuda takes a direct hit!


And it would be a pretty strong hurricane, US would get waves and rip currents.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
1131. yqt1001
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Daniel is a special case then, as Daniel wasn't even a tropical cyclone when it brought rains to them.


I think it is because every Hurricane Daniel has threatened Hawaii as a major hurricane at some point in its life.

Ironically this year Daniel unexpectedly became a major hurricane, the remnants did actually pass just south of Hawaii too.

The name Daniel has been used for seven tropical cyclones in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

1978's Hurricane Daniel, did not affect land
1982's Hurricane Daniel, reached Hawaii as a tropical depression and dissipated in the Alenuihaha Channel between Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii
2000's Hurricane Daniel, threatened Hawaii for a time while weakening
2006's Hurricane Daniel, brought rain to Hawaii
2012's Hurricane Daniel, Category 3 hurricane, which affected Hawaii.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
All this time I thought Emily and Alex was retired.
Really?LOL how so? we used Emily last year.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


Category 1...Perhaps less than $5 billion in damage? Three deaths?

Are we going to retire every hurricane that impacts a nearby metro area now? Should be reserved for the notorious, like Andrew, Katrina, Camille, etc.
The early estimate I've seen on insured, on-shore damage is a range of $700m-$2b. At the low end, that's just ahead of Noel (2007) and at the high end, Gloria (1986) in inflation-adjusted dollars. But those numbers are almost certain to rise, particularly if they take into account all damage from the storm, including the devastating surge that's excluded from the insurance tally. Let's take your $5B as a conservative figure. That'd be ahead of roughly 2/3 of all retired storms, even indexed for inflation.

But the real reason they retire storms is to avoid confusion. That's why Isaac will get retired. It's a benchmark storm in many of the areas it affected - setting some significant flooding and rain records. More importantly, it was utterly bizarre. People are going to use Isaac as a reference point forever. It formed an eyewall within an eyewall. It was an enormous, sprawling tropical storm with extraordinarily low central pressure. If there's another Isaac this decade, that will be a source of potential confusion. So I suspect there'll be a request to retire its name, and it'll be honored.
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216 hrs. Bermuda takes a direct hit!

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Anyway Captain Kirk is still looking very impressive and will likely begin our count for major hurricanes.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
I agree by the Tornado that form in the water in here don`t know the name in English there is a disappear fishermen. Never in my life I want to experience a tornado.
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Quoting allancalderini:
Karl nor Alex were in 2010 nor Emily in 2005.
All this time I thought Emily and Alex was retired.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


Hurricanes do damage. That's the fact.

Should we retire every hurricane that makes landfall ever? Really, do answer me. The criteria you all present me make me think that this is what we are eventually headed towards.


It really doesn't matter whether the atlantic basin ran out of names or not. Each of the retired hurricanes have historical significance to the areas that are affected. Each serves as a reminder of what has happened. The amount of damage or deaths are not always correlated with retirement. What is important is the experience to those who were there.

So long as the countries that are impacted request it, it will be retired. It is what it is. Your retirement benchmark can't be generalized to others.

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Quoting ScooterXX7:


I went through Andrew, thank you.

Every hurricane does damage. If you saw a picture of every hurricane's damage, from Cat. 1 - Cat. 5 at landfall, you'd see they'd all have damage. Doesn't mean all should be retired.

I'm not against retiring hurricane names, but let's save this for significant storms, guys. Isaac caused damage, people lost their lives. But this happens in EVERY landfall cyclone from Taipei, to New Orleans, or Madagascar.

Well duh every hurricane does damage. But it is up to that government of the country it impacted if they want it to be retired or not. Once again, retirement is brought up at the WMO meetings and if a country wants a name retired then so be it.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
Btw Do Mexico retire storms? I have look all the hurricanes that have affect only Mexico and the only one retires are Diana in 1990 and maybe Roxanne in 1995.
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Quoting allancalderini:
No I mean that Hawaii ask for it and it was denied I am just saying that not always when is ask they retire.


Daniel is a special case then, as Daniel wasn't even a tropical cyclone when it brought rains to them.
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Quoting allancalderini:
No Michael?
Not yet, Leslie is stealing the show.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


I went through Andrew, thank you.

Every hurricane does damage. If you saw a picture of every hurricane's damage, from Cat. 1 - Cat. 5 at landfall, you'd see they'd all have damage. Doesn't mean all should be retired.

I'm not against retiring hurricane names, but let's save this for significant storms, guys. Isaac caused damage, people lost their lives. But this happens in EVERY landfall cyclone from Taipei, to New Orleans, or Madagascar.


I only came off harshly because you did, the fact is that Isaac was more devastating than a lot of recent landfalling storms, it's not like I'm thinking Humberto should be retired, but Stan was in Mexico, and a lot of hurricanes don't phase them. Truth be told, Isaac, although many communities thought they were prepared for a category one hurricane by taking a category 3 seriously enough to not make the same mistake again, still managed to overwhelm many. Too much moisture, and such a large wind field to well up an abnormally high surge that overwhelmed levees that wouldn't have been by any regular category 1, or even a major, that is why many people have been contested the SSHS of late. Winds are certainly not everything, especially when a storm has the pressure and storm surge of a major.

So, yes; I think he should and will be retired.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


After lurking through several seasons on this board, I've heard every landfalling hurricane floated around as a possible "retired" name.
Karl nor Alex were in 2010 nor Emily in 2005.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


I went through Andrew, thank you.

Every hurricane does damage. If you saw a picture of every hurricane's damage, from Cat. 1 - Cat. 5 at landfall, you'd see they'd all have damage. Doesn't mean all should be retired.

I'm not against retiring hurricane names, but let's save this for significant storms, guys. Isaac caused damage, people lost their lives. But this happens in EVERY landfall cyclone from Taipei, to New Orleans, or Madagascar.


That's not our decision. That goes to the government who issues the request to WMO. The WMO has to accept the request, that is part of their guidelines.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24033
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Yes, though that is improbable they would have.

Ok, thanks Ted! Just wondering if it was possible.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Because Daniel didn't even get close to Hawaii, only its post-tropical remnants did. If Daniel had hit Hawaii as a hurricane then it might be a different deal.
No I mean that Hawaii ask for it and it was denied I am just saying that not always when is ask they retire.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


After lurking through several seasons on this board, I've heard every landfalling hurricane floated around as a possible "retired" name.

That is not true, we don't say every landfalling hurricane could be retired. You've got to think out some things before coming on here and expecting something good.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
Quoting GTcooliebai:
174 hrs. Leslie barely moving.

No Michael?
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Quoting allancalderini:
I mean Daniel of 2006 not Ioke.


Because Daniel didn't even get close to Hawaii, only its post-tropical remnants did. If Daniel had hit Hawaii as a hurricane then it might be a different deal.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24033
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Yes they did.
Link

The CPHC requested retirement for Ioke.

I think they are referring to Daniel which threatened the islands
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174 hrs. Leslie barely moving.

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Quoting wxchaser97:

Just a crazy what if question. What if the US wanted 2010 TS Bonnie to be retired, would that be accepted or denied?


Yes, though that is improbable they would have.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24033
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Yes they did.
Link

The CPHC requested retirement for Ioke.
I mean Daniel of 2006 not Ioke.
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Quoting wxchaser97:

Yeah hurricanes do damage, some way more than most. That question is crazy though imo as the NHC & the WMO just wouldn't do that. Though if a strong hurricane rolls through and does tons of damage, billions of dollars are lost and multiple fatalities happen then retirement should at least be considered. Also if it has a psychological impact on people the name could be retired.


After lurking through several seasons on this board, I've heard every landfalling hurricane floated around as a possible "retired" name.
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Quoting allancalderini:
they didn`t retire in 2006 when Hawaii ask for him.


Yes they did.
Link

The CPHC requested retirement for Ioke.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24033
Quoting CybrTeddy:


And if the government requests it, they have no reason to deny it. WMO always, 100% of the time, without fail will retire a storm if the government requests it regardless of damages and deaths. Why? That's part of their ruleset. There's no reason to deny them, none at all regardless of damage and reasons.

Just a crazy what if question. What if the US wanted 2010 TS Bonnie type storm to be retired, would that be accepted or denied?
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1103. pcola57
Quoting Skyepony:


It's a bit farther south but the longitude is right..


Wunder what caused this crazy drop south of Indonesia.



I dunno??? The only observation I can make at this point Skye is "this year seems to be a year full of anomolies"..
About the RSOE comment I made..that was the best I could figure out as they have changed up the format since I was last there..wish I was better at researching like you..but I'm not (jealosy intended).. :)
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Quoting LostTomorrows:


You must be living in a nice protected bubble somewhere away from where a hurricane can ever possibly change your life for the worse. Just take a look at the pictures and videos of Isaac's impact, and perhaps you can then rescind your ignorance.

I live in Ontario; not exactly a haven for hurricanes haha, but I do sympathize greatly, and hope that things will go up from here on. Isaac was no Katrina, but he might as well have been.


I went through Andrew, thank you.

Every hurricane does damage. If you saw a picture of every hurricane's damage, from Cat. 1 - Cat. 5 at landfall, you'd see they'd all have damage. Doesn't mean all should be retired.

I'm not against retiring hurricane names, but let's save this for significant storms, guys. Isaac caused damage, people lost their lives. But this happens in EVERY landfall cyclone from Taipei, to New Orleans, or Madagascar.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


I don't see how the WMO can't simply mention that storm didn't cause enough monetary destruction or deaths to be retired. It's a request, not an order.


And if the government requests it, they have no reason to deny it. WMO always, 100% of the time, without fail will retire a storm if the government requests it regardless of damages and deaths. Why? That's part of their ruleset. There's no reason to deny them, none at all regardless of damage and reasons.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


But thats how it should be. Igor didn't warrant retirement. $200 mil in damages? 1 death? Barely a scrape of a landfall? Really?

We might as well as run out of names by 2050 then.
LOL I doubt we run out of names by then, in fact I doubt we ever run out of names. So many names out there.
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1099. yqt1001
Quoting ScooterXX7:


Hurricanes do damage. That's the fact.

Should we retire every hurricane that makes landfall ever? Really, do answer me. The criteria you all present me make me think that this is what we are eventually headed towards.


Well, most hurricane prone regions don't retire hurricanes easily. Hurricane Emily from 2005, Karl from 2010. All major hurricane landfalls on Mexico that did decent damage (Karl especially) that weren't retired.

Most storms that you define as a waste of a retirement are from nations that don't get bad impacts from most hurricanes. I won't defend Isaac right now it is too early to tell, but I don't feel Igor as a waste. 200 million in damages is a lot for Canada as most of our space is uninhabited. Louisiana is 50 times more populous than Newfoundland, giving a total of 10 billion in damages if Igor were to hit Louisiana.
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1098. JLPR2
Quoting yqt1001:
Look at the incredible size of the CDO. Barely 1 degree across the entire CDO O_o



Ha! XD
Out little captain is lost in the Atl.
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Quoting animalrsq:


Three deaths? So nothing that happens outside the US is relevant?
3 deaths confirmed in LA---(some people are still unaccounted for), they are expecting that number to rise. also, 1 confirmed death in MS--tow truck driver, tree fell on his vehicle. (back to lurking)
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1096. WWPR
Quoting wxchaser97:

Lol, you scared me for a second until I read the whole thing, thanks! With Leslie still moving west at the moment it will take longer to make the turn, which I still think will happen. Though it should quickly begin moving WNW which I have on there.


I agree she will turn WNW (at some point), my problem is that just like you I don't see it happening in the time frame given by the NHC. Unfortunately to close to home (PR) for my taste.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


I don't see how the WMO can't simply mention that storm didn't cause enough monetary destruction or deaths to be retired. It's a request, not an order.
they didn`t retire Daniel in 2006 when Hawaii ask for him.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


Hurricanes do damage. That's the fact.

Should we retire every hurricane that makes landfall ever? Really, do answer me. The criteria you all present me make me think that this is what we are eventually headed towards.

Yeah hurricanes do damage, some way more than most. That question is crazy though imo as the NHC & the WMO just wouldn't do that. Though if a strong hurricane rolls through and does tons of damage, billions of dollars are lost and multiple fatalities happen then retirement should at least be considered. Also if it has a psychological impact on people the name could be retired.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
Quoting ScooterXX7:


Category 1...Perhaps less than $5 billion in damage? Three deaths?

Are we going to retire every hurricane that impacts a nearby metro area now? Should be reserved for the notorious, like Andrew, Katrina, Camille, etc.


You must be living in a nice protected bubble somewhere away from where a hurricane can ever possibly change your life for the worse. Just take a look at the pictures and videos of Isaac's impact, and perhaps you can then rescind your ignorance.

I live in Ontario; not exactly a haven for hurricanes haha, but I do sympathize greatly, and hope that things will go up from here on. Isaac was no Katrina, but he might as well have been.
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Quoting ScooterXX7:


Hurricanes do damage. That's the fact.

Should we retire every hurricane that makes landfall ever? Really, do answer me. The criteria you all present me make me think that this is what we are eventually headed towards.
If Damage and death are enough retirement will be you like or not that is how it works Igor was the worst hurricane for Newfoundland I would had been surprise if he wasn`t taked out of the list.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


You have to understand how retirements work, the countries government requests it, not the NHC based on damage. Take Paloma for example.


I don't see how the WMO can't simply mention that storm didn't cause enough monetary destruction or deaths to be retired. It's a request, not an order.
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150 hrs. Leslie is taking her precious time.

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Quoting ScooterXX7:


But thats how it should be. Igor didn't warrant retirement. $200 mil in damages? 1 death? Barely a scrape of a landfall? Really?

We might as well as run out of names by 2050 then.


You have to understand how retirements work, the countries government requests it, not the NHC based on damage. Take Paloma for example.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24033
Quoting yqt1001:


Newfoundland has a population of 100,000. How can you compare Igor to storms that affected nearly everyone in the Gulf coast? Igor wiped out kilometers of the Trans Canada highway, shutting down all travel to communities for days. The communities might've only been fishing villages, not cities of 5 million people, but that doesn't make much of a difference to local governments.

Igor and Juan are still referenced as storms to remember in Canadian media. Way more frequently than Katrina or Andrew.


Hurricanes do damage. That's the fact.

Should we retire every hurricane that makes landfall ever? Really, do answer me. The criteria you all present me make me think that this is what we are eventually headed towards.
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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.