The Katrina catastrophe

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:53 PM GMT on August 30, 2005

As news reports begin to filter in from the hardest hit areas, the scope of Katrina's destruction is slowly being realized. Remember in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, how there was a lot of relief about how much worse it could have been, and how well Miami fared? This cheerfulness faded once the search teams penetrated to Homestead and found the near-total devastation there. The fact we have not heard at all from the areas hardest hit by Katrina--Slidell, Bay Saint Louis, Pass Christian--means that these areas have probably been mostly destroyed, with substantial loss of life of those who failed to evacuate. While the winds of Katrina were only of Category 3 strength when the storm moved through these areas, Katrina's 20 - 22 foot storm surge was still characteristic of a Category 5 storm. Remember, the all-time record for a storm surge in the U.S. is 26 feet--from Hurricane Camille--and Katrina's storm surge was close to that level, but covered an area three times larger. And with a two block long breach in the Lake Pontchartrain levee allowing the entire city of New Orleans to flood today, we are witnessing a natural disaster of the scope unseen in America since the great 1938 Hurricane devastated New England, killing 600. Damage from Katrina will probably top $50 billion, and the death toll will be in the hundreds.

Katrina now
Katrina is still a tropical storm, but is rapidly losing her ability to cause destruction. Her top winds are only about 40 mph at 9am EDT, and the storm is moving quickly enough to the north-northeast that extensive damage from flooding is unlikely over the Tennessee valley. Rainfall amounts in this area have been in the 2-4 inch range so far, which will cause localized flooding problems. A few tornadoes are still possible, mainly over Georgia and Tennessee.

What's behind Katrina
Tropical Depression 13 dissipated yesterday, but is being watched for signs of regeneration. If it does regenerate, this system is probably only a threat to Bermuda. Another area of concern is a strong tropical low pressure area midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands. This low has a large ciculation and a small amount of deep convection trying to build over it. The low has some modest wind shear it is fighting, but the real impediment to its development is a very large area of dry, dust-laden air surrounding it. The dry air will probably keep the low from developing into a depression today. If the low does develop, the early track models forecast the system to track northwestward over the open Atlantic Ocean.

Dr. Jeff Masters

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433. konch
4:55 AM GMT on September 02, 2005
I have to take exception to the phrase "with substantial loss of life of those who failed to evacuate."

Not everyone was in a position to evacuate. A large majority of those who lost their lives should have been evacuated by AWOL responsible authorities and an absent National Guard. Perhaps a better phrasing would be "with substantial loss of life of those who were not evacuated." Otherwise, one is blaming the victims of the gutting and looting of the US infrastructure by ideologically-alibied, corrupt concerns.

Perhaps a small minority of those killed stated when they had a choice, and your phrase does apply to them. When I first read this I shared the frustration and outrage at the willful blindness of those obstinate few, but in the aftermath it is clear the real story is the continuing criminal neglect of basic services on the part those in control of the federal government.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 4
432. canoelac
4:03 PM GMT on August 31, 2005
Why hasn't a national emergency been declared to make taking care of all these at least 1 million people the first priority of everything and everybody? Seems to me that only a tiny amount of help is being mobilized so far, and all these people don't have that much time without food, water especially. ???
431. Gatorbait05
2:55 PM GMT on August 31, 2005
They are moving the Superdome evacs to the Astrodome in Houston on 435 buses (which should arrive into NEw Orleans soon. They have clear enough outs and should be starting today and going into tomorrow evening. The Atrodoem is clear until Dec for these people.
430. Horacio
5:31 AM GMT on August 31, 2005
Hi everybody. I'm from Brazil and I am following this blog since last sunday, hoping the best for all the people in the area hit by Katrina.
2:19 AM GMT on August 31, 2005
cTampa: My dad owns and operates the local USO in Pascagoula MS His name is Lee Lechleidner he lives on River Road in Pascagoula.

Thank You,

428. ae1
1:52 AM GMT on August 31, 2005

Don't throw all your charitable aid at the Red Cross. Think ahead. Think to what all these people are going to need after these first few weeks, after it's not the page one story everywhere else. Legal Aid services in FL are still dealing with all KINDS of legal miseries being suffered by clients who were devastated last year, helping them establish what they did own, how to account for their losses, how to contend with the insurance companies and the evil gougers, how to save their properties from the predatory deal-makers of all stripes. And that hell is going on way after it's not the top news story anymore. And Habitat is still trying to build new homes. And Big Brothers Big Sisters is doing a wide variety of family support services no one would have ever imagined them stepping in on. So think bigger than Red Cross. They get all the money thrown at them, and not to criticize, but there have been some real problems with accountability for the RC the last few major calamities (9/11, 'canes, tsunami, etc.).

So think United Way maybe, Legal Aid, Habitat. Think ahead... please. And mark your checks in the memo line: "Katrina Relief." Thank you for caring now, and in three, six, nine months. This won't be over for a lonnnnnng time.
427. SCGirl
1:49 AM GMT on August 31, 2005
Does anyone know how bad it is in St. Charles parish? I have family in Luling which I think is north of NO on the other side of Lake P.
426. Transkar
12:54 AM GMT on August 31, 2005
425. Orleans77
12:50 AM GMT on August 31, 2005
424. Sheraqueenofthebeach
12:13 AM GMT on August 31, 2005
ORLEANS...teriffically happy you are OK.... we are VERY worried for those that posted from NOLA and have not been heard from!
The "higher being" has blessed you and yours!
Member Since: August 2, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 3141
423. Sheraqueenofthebeach
12:08 AM GMT on August 31, 2005
Where'd leftyy go?
Member Since: August 2, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 3141
422. Orleans77
11:34 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
sorry bout the grammar and tired...
421. Orleans77
11:33 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
have been out of touch for last 2 hrs..can someone fill me in on any new developments...
420. Orleans77
11:33 PM GMT on August 30, 2005 wife and kids and I as well as my folks are from wife andI and my son were living in NO for the summer..moved there in June...were home for a vist and were supposed to return there on Sunday first I was jus oing to secure the apt and ride out the storm...but mmy folks talked me out of it...we lost everything...but were insured..(man im so glad that i let the insurance agent, whom i thought was pushy, sell me ona a rental policy) son was in a the daycare this week in the daycare he attended before we moved to LA....hope that answers ur questions...
419. Orleans77
11:29 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
hey im back gang...
418. cTampa
11:13 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
Orleans77... just curious? Your kids are in daycare while you are visiting in NY? I might not have been following your posts closely though... don't want to stir trouble. Their are more important things to discuss here. Just curious? Do you have an ex with kids there? If so, it must be nice for you to get to stay with them while you are watching all of the destruction in your home town. It is nice to know you have family with you. It puts the whole world into perspective, doesn't it? BTW... my friend just called from Pascagoula. They are able to call long distance, but for some reason cannot reach each other in their home town? They said no one they know has a house left.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
417. furstie
11:04 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
Try "Talim"...whoops.
416. furstie
11:01 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
How about Typhoon Malin bearing down on Taiwan with winds of 145 mph
This storm is right on the verge of a replacement cycle (a much smaller eye than Katrina), but it looks like it will come out of it before landfall.

Perhaps Bastardi's on to something with this teleconnection stuff (stated simply, the weather elsewhere commutes to the weather here and vice versa via large scale climatic connections).
415. cTampa
10:59 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
I posted earlier about Pascagoula. I have spoken to friends there several times since yesterday morning. (goularogue & pascmississippi that post here; I got them addicted to the site last hurricane season. I have never posted until today.) They have called me from a different cell phone number every time. I cannot reach them though. Your dad may be able to get intermittent cell service to finally get a call out. All I can tell you is that the city is very devastated, but they are all helping each other and many are safe. Anything south of 90 was under water. I do not know if the water has receded? But only can assume it has by seeing the pics of Biloxi. The last time they attempted to call me was at 12 CST. We lost our connection though. A lot of families have lost their homes, cars, etc... Hope you find word soon. If you tell me their names, I will ask them if they know anything... if they get a chance to get through again.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
414. PcolaGal
10:28 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
POTMROTS: check out out of mobile for news about pascagula. the home page has an article on pascagula that is a couple of hours old.

earl12603: nothing else on pass christian. sorry.
413. WSI
10:12 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
People PLEASE quit feeding the trolls. They only hang around and pester you the more you feed them. Ignore their stupid comments, and they will go away. Even if they don't, don't dignify their insensitive and finger-pointing posts with a response.
412. scrabblechick
10:07 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
Do you count those who were killed at landfall as victims, or those who will also die in the aftermath? Perhaps "only" a few hundred died at landfall, but it is a safe bet that the final death toll will be mind-numbing--much more so than with Andrew. The infrastructure in Dade County basically held in place. NO is like ground zero after Hiroshima. The infrastructure is failing rapidly.
Thousands of dead is not an unrealistic number with the levees failing in NO and let me tell you why. There are diseases that take people in large groups that are directly related to poor sanitation, contaminated drinking water, etc. These include: cholera, typhus, typhoid and dysentery. We have not seen outbreaks of these diseases in the U.S. in more than 90 years, but we're going to see them now, I guarantee. These do not kill small numbers of people, but many, many hundreds.
Other people will die who have medical conditions that will go untreated. Are they hurricane victims or just "unlucky"?
People are existing in shelters who have, quite literally, lost every single thing they own. They've lost their homes and everything in them, and may not even be able to rebuild. What of these people? Will they survive, and if not, are they "real" hurricane victims, or just "unlucky"?
In the final analysis, it doesn't matter whether the death toll is 1,000 or 1 million. It doesn't matter if someone predicted 10,000 and it comes to pass or not. It just doesn't make a dime's worth of difference. This is a catastrophe on a scale we have never seen and are not prepared for.
I hope this disaster does not write the obituary for New Orleans, but it is certainly a city in gravely critical condition.
411. weatherboyfsu
10:07 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
Hope everyone is ok!!!!!!!!
Member Since: July 17, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1025
10:05 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
Hi all,

Does anyone have friends or family in or near Pascgagoula, MS ?

I'm trying to find my Dad and any info would help.

Roads getting there open or closed? Are they letting people go back to their homes?

Any info would help.

Thank you.
408. furstie
9:56 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
OK Carbo...50,000 as a guess for the number dead is absurd. I think it's off by a factor of 100.
406. HAARP
9:55 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
gator... the GOV is speaking out of both sides of his mouth.... he needs sleep because they are evac-ing them right now
Member Since: November 1, 2004 Posts: 42 Comments: 482
404. Sheraqueenofthebeach
9:53 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
Guys and and women.... PLEASE.
If Squam wants an argument.... someone start a "I"M RIGHT AND UR WRONG" blog.
And for all others....thank you for a peaceful day...relatively.

For the others, may I suggest the following? (EASY to create, I myself have a "hurricane food blog" for recipes before (clean out the fridge) during (may have power or not), and after (how to make a hot meal 5 + days out with no power))

For those of the "conspiracy theory".... CREATE ONE!
For those of the "ALIEN theory" may the force be with you! CREATE A BLOG!

Can we be real here people? And enough with the histrionic posts that have no backing, for example... water rising a foot every 5 minutes.



'nough said and off the soapbox.
Member Since: August 2, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 3141
403. COobserver
9:53 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
Some reports that the Superdome must be evacuated...bad news if the following is true:

4:21 P.M. - 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.
402. EllistonVA
9:52 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
People are dying, people are scared about their relatives and are looking for real info here. If you aren't posting information, go elsewhere. It is bad. Period. Squabbling over decimal points in numbers trivializes what is happening, but much worse it means that people that are coming here for info will leave. It's all about the people in need right now, so let's focus on that please.
Member Since: May 3, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
401. cgableshurrycanegal
9:51 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
someone asked about the regeneration of td13.
I think it will be a fish storm if it does so.
So far east and at northern degrees... might spook Bermuda.
As to the other area. a little early, but what I could see with my rabbit ear connection looks like poss fish storm, wouldn't bet the bank on anything this season...
Member Since: July 12, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 214
398. cgableshurrycanegal
9:48 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
squam is trolling. I am no longer responding to someone who can equate a man-created (9-11) nightmare to nature doing it's thing and turning a whole city into a long-term cespool which is what is now happening. How they are ever going to decontaminate NO is beyond my comprehension.
Notice no answer to my specific questions about Andrew?
Member Since: July 12, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 214
397. HAARP
9:48 PM GMT on August 30, 2005


lets leave it at that...

We are all alarmists but you are "well-grounded"...

I am sure you make your parents proud

The fact remains that many people are dead and by the time this is over many MAY be more than 10000...I pray I am wrong but the more info that comes in right now the more likely that this will be the case
Member Since: November 1, 2004 Posts: 42 Comments: 482
396. leftyy420
9:47 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
squam i am sorry u couldn't be here this morning. maybe u should scroll down and see what the people from the affected areas had to say to me. i had people thanking me for possibly saving their lives by explaining the threat they did not see comming. how many lives did u save this wekkend
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
395. Gatorbait05
9:46 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
Haarp the Gov. said they were bringing in supplies to help the people until a plan could be developed in a few days to get them out.
394. cgableshurrycanegal
9:45 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
valence, your earlier post, yes, someone did jump in the superdome
Member Since: July 12, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 214
393. leftyy420
9:45 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
thaks for the sat links. very moving
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
392. Carbo04
9:45 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
Squam, 9/11 was bad. But two buildings falling, and about 3,000 dead is nothing even close to a whole city that has almost a billion being flooded, and getting more flooded by the night. It's not jsut water either. You got the oil, and gas, and sewage in it. Plus the wind damage, and New Orleans didn't even get the brunt. Gulf Port, and Bolixi.. There is probably nothing at all left of those places. not to mention the places yet to be heard from. 50,000 dead from this at the end is probably a conservative estimate.
391. cgableshurrycanegal
9:44 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
lefty, good point. what happened to catc? ::snicker::
Member Since: July 12, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 214
389. cgableshurrycanegal
9:43 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
didn't see it, and how old were you? what responsibilities did you shoulder and exactly where were you? If you tell me Broward County I find you and spank you.
Member Since: July 12, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 214
388. Valence
9:42 PM GMT on August 30, 2005

If some of the people reading the comments from these "alarmists" had not evactuated themselves, or made phone calls to family and friends living in the effected areas advising them to leave or prepare better, wouldn't the death toll, regardless of the number will eventually see, be higher?

Can you honestly say that Lefty and the rest of these guys didn't save some lives? WHo cares if only 50-100 instead of 25,000? Dude, get a life!
386. leftyy420
9:41 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
squam whats the point. i stated yesterday that if 1 person died it was a trajedy. it could be that high. there are 30,000 people in the parishes that are under 15-20 ft of water. every person plucked off a roof tells a story of loss of life. u are here why? u have added nothing to this blog. people have lost everything they own. people have watched love ones die. your in here arguing apples over oranges. people are dead and more are still struggling for their lives. i want no one to answer him after this. we need his element out of this blog and only if we ignore him will he leave
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
385. Valence
9:39 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
These Looters are really making my blood boil.

I'd like to see someone (gov, mayor, FEMA) make something similar to the following statement:

"To those indivials who are using this catastrophic event to take advantage of the reduced security and obatin personal gain: YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.

You will not be elligible for emergency relief from FEMA. You will not be evacuated or rescued from your homoe or city by any civil or military personell.
You will not be granted access to any city, state or federally run shelter.
You will be turned away from any publicly funded hospital.

The relief effort is paid for in part by the same citizens and businesses that you have chosen to take advantage of in this horrific time. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN! Good luck and may God have mercy on your soul."

I think is a little harsh, and probably not realistic, but geez! What the hell are these people thinking?!?!?!?
384. JeffWxFLG
9:39 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
I've been lurking for a few days as all this has unfolded. Thanks to all whole have provided useful information.

A few of you have asked about satellite photos. Excellent ongoing satellite imagery of phenomena around the world is at NASA's Earth Observatory site. This image is particularly relevant:

They will likely post more over the next days. Effects on the Gulf Coast as well as NO should be obvious.

Keeping all in the affected areas in my thoughts.
383. cgableshurrycanegal
9:39 PM GMT on August 30, 2005
squam, I have no quarrel with age. that is just a number.
My problem is that you haven't lived what some of us have.
I lived the Andrew nightmare. I worked a hotel fire. I know how to gauge things from a different perspective than do you. Just maybe, before you go mouthing off that we are negative and lusting after big numbers you should stop and think before you post.
I've worked for years in all my communities, I'm considered a healer by all I work by, regardless of religion due to all I contribute. I am not considered a negative person, but YOU choose to blow me off from the few comments on a blog. THAT is immature.
Member Since: July 12, 2005 Posts: 24 Comments: 214

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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