Katrina weakening--but still of catastrophic intensity

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:31 AM GMT on August 29, 2005

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The 10:36pm EDT Hurricane Hunter mission found a central pressure of 908 mb, up 6 mb since this afternoon's minimum of 902 mb. The maximum flight level winds in the northwest quadrant were 122 knots, which translates to a Category 3 intensity at the surface (130 mph). However, Katrina's strongest winds are in the northeast quadrant, and the Hurricane Hunters have not sampled that quadrant yet. Winds of 160 knots were found there by the previous mission at 8pm EDT. The rising pressure implies that we should see some diminishing of the winds in the next few hours, making Katrina a strong Category 4 hurricane. Hurricanes rarely maintain Category 5 intensity for more than 12 hours, and that is how long Katrina has been at Category 5.

I have been expecting Katrina to undergo a shrinking of the eye and an eyewall replacement cycle tonight, but instead the eye diameter has increased to 30 nm (35 miles). This is an incredibly large eye for a storm with a pressure this low, and makes me very uncertain about what intensity fluctuations Katrina may undergo in the next few hours before landfall. I see nothing to change the label of "catastrophic" for Katrina at landfall.

The eye is now clearly visible on long-range New Orleans radar. This view may not be around too much longer, I expect Katrina will destroy the radar site. This happened to the Miami radar during Hurricane Andrew, when a 160 mph wind gust ripped the radar ball from its rooftop mooring. When one looks at this radar image animate, considers the forecast track, and sees the huge size of the eye, it is very difficult to imagine that New Orleans will not get a portion of the eyewall. New Orleans will likely flood, causing immense destruction and heavy loss of life.

I just received this email from user Adam Henderson: "My friend is stuck on I-10 and has just called me saying there is a 12 car pile up. His CB is buzzing with news that a 18 wheeler is involved." At this stage, it might be best not to try to evacuate. Being stuck in a traffic jam on I-10 when the winds start blowing 130 mph is probably more dangerous than riding out the storm in the Superdome.

Tropical Depression 13
A new tropical depression formed in the mid-Atlantic today, and is headed northwest over open ocean. This is one we definitely do not need to worry about for now. The storm may even dissipate due to hostile wind shear within the next few days.

See you in the morning. My prayers to all in the path of Katrina.

Dr. Jeff Masters

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868. AySz88
12:15 PM GMT on August 29, 2005
Some helpful links (auto-posting every 20 minutes):

Projected Flooding from Katrina

WWLTV/KHOU webcast (switched operations to Baton Rouge) (Open in Windows Media Player)
CBS affiliate; guest had claimed WWL was the only remaining news feed out of NO
Alternate: KHOU Server

New Orleans Long-Range Radar Loop (Alternate Presentation)
NO Radar Analyzed on Wunderground (for tornadoes, etc.)

VORTEX Recon Decoder (Raw)

GOES Ch.4 IR Loop (Updates every 30 min)
GOES-12 Interactive Map (Updates every 15ish min; set options then click hurricane in picture to animate)

Lake Pontchartrain & Area Water Levels (1, 2, 3)
Near-Katrina Buoy Measurements

New Orleans Winds (click a site, then "Real-Time")
(Direct link to real-time winds at WWL-TV)
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 8
867. santarosa
12:12 PM GMT on August 29, 2005
gatorbait,
Not in NO. I'm home in Milton.
866. AySz88
11:55 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Some helpful links (auto-posting every 20 minutes):

Projected Flooding from Katrina

WWLTV/KHOU webcast (switched operations to Baton Rouge) (Open in Windows Media Player)
CBS affiliate; guest had claimed WWL was the only remaining news feed out of NO
Alternate: KHOU Server

New Orleans Long-Range Radar Loop (Alternate Presentation)
NO Radar Analyzed on Wunderground (for tornadoes, etc.)

VORTEX Recon Decoder (Raw)

GOES Ch.4 IR Loop (Updates every 30 min)
GOES-12 Interactive Map (Updates every 15ish min; set options then click hurricane in picture to animate)

Lake Pontchartrain & Area Water Levels (1, 2, 3)
Near-Katrina Buoy Measurements

New Orleans Winds (click a site, then "Real-Time")
(Direct link to real-time winds at WWL-TV)
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 8
865. SoMissFan
11:54 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
How fun!! I have a kid who would love to have been right up in the middle of that!
864. xkcd
11:54 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Which cams are up? I'm having trouble pulling up anything on the BourbonCam site, but I know there are a few others that were linked. Anyone seen anything live in the last half-hour or so?

We should be seeing at least a dim sunlight pretty soon.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 15
863. TipOfIsland
11:51 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
New post from Dr. Jeff
862. SouthernFootprints
11:46 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
also=almost
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 70
861. Gatorbait05
11:46 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Santarosa where are u in NO?
860. SouthernFootprints
11:45 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
We are fairly close then - I am also to 4th street. Hoperfully we will keep our power a little longer. Niece just painted the eagle walk last week. Came home COVERED in gold paint!
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 70
859. SoMissFan
11:43 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
I'm in west H'burg - near Bellevue.
858. SouthernFootprints
11:38 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
In the subdivision behind turtle creek mall
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 70
857. WeatherSpotter
11:37 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Wind: 145 MPH
Pressure: 918 MB
856. AySz88
11:35 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Some helpful links (auto-posting every 20 minutes):

Projected Flooding from Katrina

WWLTV/KHOU webcast (switched operations to Baton Rouge) (Open in Windows Media Player)
CBS affiliate; guest had claimed WWL was the only remaining news feed out of NO
Alternate: KHOU Server

New Orleans Long-Range Radar Loop (Alternate Presentation)
NO Radar Analyzed on Wunderground (for tornadoes, etc.)

VORTEX Recon Decoder (Raw)

GOES Ch.4 IR Loop (Updates every 30 min)
GOES-12 Interactive Map (Updates every 15ish min; set options then click hurricane in picture to animate)

Lake Pontchartrain & Area Water Levels (1, 2, 3)
Near-Katrina Buoy Measurements

New Orleans Winds (click a site, then "Real-Time")
(Direct link to real-time winds at WWL-TV)
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 8
855. savesharks
11:34 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Is the real time rain gauge on the WWL-TV site accurate? It is showing 13.5" and rising fast.

http://ww2.instaweather.com/wrc/default.asp?cid=4&javaid=WWLTV
854. SoMissFan
11:33 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
SouthernFootprints - where in Hattiesburg are you?
853. rscopes
11:31 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Hi all. First post but have been lurking for days. I'm in Fairhope, AL on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. Very windy right now and rain.
852. santarosa
11:27 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
I'm already gathering supplies. Looks like my DH will be called up to reserve duty to help out..I hope my Brother in laws relatives in Kiln are doing ok.
851. SaymoBEEL
11:22 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Thanks SantaRosa. I feel people to our west will need a lot more help than us. This is one of those times Gulf Coasters know we need to pull together. God bless you!
850. santarosa
11:20 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
My neighbors basketball goal just fell on his truck! Boy is he going to be mad when he wakes up! Tow hurricanes and not a scratch, tropical storm force gusts at best and his truck gets bonked. (LOL)
849. SouthernFootprints
11:17 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
I live in a wooden house too - sure hope it can withstand the long terms winds we are going to have. Wish for a northern built house about now - ha!
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 70
848. GPTGUY
11:15 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
yeah southern i live farther north about 10 min from here but i live in a wooden house with pine trees around so my family came here
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 391
846. santarosa
11:14 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
GPTGuy and SayMobeel,
We'll be there to help afterwards! Plenty of people from Alabama and Mississippi just dropped everything to help us out over here and we haven't forgotten...
845. SouthernFootprints
11:13 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
WOW you are really close to the coast!
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 70
844. GPTGUY
11:12 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
yeah im in a hotel room on the second floor off I-10 and the sky lit up green and white with transformers blowing been without power here for about an hour now
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 391
843. SirVivor
11:11 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Well, folks, I've got to run. Hubby has CT and PET scans this morning an hour away and we have to be there at 8:45. I haven't slept all night and I need to go drink abnout a pot of coffee so I can drive. Of course, being a woman over 40, if I drink that much coffee, I'd better wear some of my mother in law's depends while I'm at it...LOL!

Best of luck to all of you who are in the path of the storm...or even on the periphery of it. Stay safe, stay inside, and boil your water.
842. SouthernFootprints
11:11 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
GPTGUY how long have u been without power?
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 70
841. Katrina3
11:09 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Guilt is a beautiful thing to a mother!!!
I use it often.
840. SouthernFootprints
11:08 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Yes it is! I dont know how much longer we will have power. But we are bunked down for the long haul. . .
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 70
839. SaymoBEEL
11:08 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Things are starting to go downhill in Mobile. Limbs starting to snap right and left. I'm in Springhill.
838. GPTGUY
11:07 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
southern is it blowing up in Hattiesburg
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 391
837. SouthernFootprints
11:05 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
I am in Hattiesburg
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 70
836. SirVivor
11:05 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Kat, when Ivan hit my son's father evacuated several days too early. My son could not get out of work, nor could he skip his college classes...that is how early his dad left. Since my son didn't have a reliabel car, he was left to ride out Ivan alone! I had made him promise me he would evnacuate...but he kind of broke his prmise to me because of his dad leaving so early and not having transportation. By the time I found out he was riding out the storm alone it was too late for me to get down there to do anything about it (I am 13 hours away right now). I was so stressed out I thought I was going to die! Then, after it was over my grandfather died and I tried to get hold of him to make sure he was OK...and to let him know that he needed to get to the funeral....I couldn't reach him. So I finally called his next door neighbor who told me that after the storm had passed, my son's half brother came and got him so he would not have to wallow in misery without AC...so he was there for the hurricane and then could not get back to the area to go up for the funeral. I was mad at him all around...first for scaring me half to death, then for leaving and not letting me know after it was over so he missed the funeral. Well, what are you gonna do...when they are over 18 and are self supporting all you can do is beg, plead and try to guilt them into doing the right thing...lol!
835. santarosa
11:05 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
My experience with Ivan and Dennis...People say "It's going to be the worst ever", then "Gee, that wasn't so bad"
especially with Dennis, all the pensacolians were saying it wasn't bad, but if you were here in Milton or in Navarre and lost your house which made it through Ivan well, you feel differently. My Aunt lost her house to the storm surge in Ivan (along East Bay), then her FEMA trailer turned over in Dennis, and they STILL aren't back in their house... imagine losing everything.. it IS the worst storm ever for someone...you realize this when you have to pick up all your life's personal belongings from all over your neighborhood.
834. GPTGUY
11:05 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
is anyone still online from the MS gulf coast?? Im in gulfport here no power or cable still have phone and running on battery power on my laptop
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 391
833. WeatherSpotter
11:02 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
How much wind and how much rain is predicted.
832. Katrina3
10:57 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Thanks SirV,
My whole fam is dizzy so we are thinking that they just forgot to call. And crossing fingers, toes, etc.
I told everyone to come here. We are in a cinderblock house with LOTS of room, and all stocked up in case it had decided to come this way.
831. SirVivor
10:56 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Kentucky and Tennessee are supposed to get Tropical storm conditions.
829. SirVivor
10:53 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Oh, Kat, I feel for you! My son and sister are both still in the FWB area and when Dennis looked like it was going to hit as a Cat 4, I was having kittens. I can well udnerstand your concern for your family who is AWOL. However, I'd take it a sa positive sign...that they got out early. Still, if they are like my family and just forgot to call and let folks know what they were doing and where they were going, it can be frustrating, unnerving and maddening! When we get moved later this month (knock on wood) my son will be moving in with us in Alabama....and I've already told my sis and friends down on the coast that I will have a guest room, lots of air beds, and a natural gas generator, so we will know everyone is safe because they will be with me in my 115 year old solid oak house that has withstood more than its share of bad weather with nary a scratch....
828. WeatherSpotter
10:52 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Whats in store for Kentucky and Tennessee with this
827. JustaPerson
10:52 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Ahh well thanks for that.
Just for a laughin New Zealand at the moment it is the perfect weather conditions SUNNY and and clear nights.
BEAUTIFUL
Thanx for answering and the info on this site has taught me alot.
GREAT STUFF!
826. santarosa
10:52 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Rainy and windy here in Milton right now. My DH is headed for Navarre to work. No choice, he is a cop. He always ends up in Navarre for hurricanes and his cruiser will come home looking like hell. I hope everyone to the west of us is ok.
824. TheEdge
10:49 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Justa...it will still be a major event but, I feel, not the catastrophe earlier predicted. IMHO
823. JustaPerson
10:46 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Just inquiring, I am from New Zealand, and as we are a long way away this site is the most reliable for the latest info on katrina. (and easiest to understand)
My question is the predictions for extreme damage in NO are they being downgraded or does it still look as though it will be a major event.
I need to know as I am addicted to news and weather and need to get to bed it's 11pm Mon night her and I got work 2moro at 6 PLEASE answer with easy to understand info. :)
822. SirVivor
10:46 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
furstie, It may not be that strong wind wise when it hits, but as we all know, it is the storm surge and the flooding that are going to be the main problem here...and that was set up to be rather nasty long beofer the storm started losing strength or becomeing less organized. It is the flooding, especially in a city taht is below sea level as New Orleans is, that is going to be the kicker. That and the snakes, rats and other vermin that will be fighting the survivors for every dry inch of space they can find. Folks might be able to survive the flooding, only to be bitten by moccasins and copperheads.....and then there are the rats and other vermin who will get pretty hungry when theirnormal food supplies are under water for an extended length of time. I would not trade places with those folks who stayed ehind for anything!
821. Katrina3
10:45 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Oh I have no doubt I'm alot safer! Just kinda musing outloud at this point. Just had to go move the truck so no more limb fall on it.
I have relatives that live in NO, and most of them left, but one fam is unaccounted for. No one could get through to them earlier in the day. So I am mostly monitoring because of them now.
820. TheEdge
10:45 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Ahh Furstie...a voice of sanity in a sea of gloom
819. SirVivor
10:41 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Kat3...well, in addition to squalls and tornados, you sometimes also get microbursts. They come down out of the clouds like a tornado, but they don't have a cyclonic twist...it is just a burst of strong winds that come straight down. I've seen them split a tree in half and leave evnrything else around it untouched. No doubt you will get some weather and some minor damage....but nothing more than you would see from a tropical storm or at the very most a Cat 1 storm. You will ahve to watch for tornados and microbursts, but belive me, you are a lot safer than anybody between Lousisana and Gautier.
818. furstie
10:39 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
It will not get stronger, it will continue to weaken as it has been steadily for the past 18 hours. This is clearly evidenced on any satellite presenation you want to look at, watch the view evolve, it gets worse and worse. One day you will look back at these images and wonder where all the phantom stengthening that you thought you saw was. It's a strong hurricane, yes, but it's a weakening hurricane as well. I doubt that any station anywhere will register a wind GUST of higher than 160, let alone sustained anywhere near that. This will feel like a big, sprawling Cat 3 storm from a wind standpoint, surge and wave action will still reflect it's past strength.

Also, it's jogging slightly east now.

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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.