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Katrina only a Cat 1 in New Orleans?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:50 PM GMT on October 13, 2005

Eye of Hurricane Katrina at sunset on August 28, 2005, when Katrina was at peak intensity. Photo credit: Deanna Hence. The photo was taken on NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft N43RF, which was participating in the Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment, RAINEX, aimed to study the interaction between a hurricane's eyewall and the rainbands located outside the eyewall region, and how these changes affect hurricane intensity.

Was Katrina much weaker at landfall than originally thought? That's what analysis of the Katrina's wind data by Dr. Mark Powell of NOAA's Hurricane Research Division is showing. Dr. Powell is the world's expert on windspeeds measured in landfalling hurricanes, so his findings are being carefully studied by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) as they prepare their final report on Katrina. The NHC advisories had Katrina as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 145 mph when it struck the Louisiana coast near Buras, and a Category 3 hurricane with 125 winds when it passed 35 miles east of New Orleans. But Dr. Powell's analysis suggests that Katrina was a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds at first landfall, and that the strongest winds that affected New Orleans were 95 mph. The analysis was done using data sources that were unavailable to the NHC in real time, including surface anemometers as well as Doppler radar measurements of wind speed from NOAA's hurricane hunter aircraft. While the results are still considered preliminary, I believe that when the official National Hurricane Center report on Katrina comes out in early 2006, Katrina will be "demoted" to a Category 3 hurricane. The full story was printed by the Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Many of the new ground based wind measurements were published on the New Orleans National Weather Service web site on Friday, October 7, in their post-storm report on Katrina. The highest sustained winds measured at any ground-based site were 90 mph on Lake Pontchartrain. The highest gust measured on the ground was 135 mph in Poplarville, MS. Many wind measurement sites failed during the storm, so we will have to rely on aircraft and Doppler radar to arrive at the true wind speeds of Katrina at landfall. Here's a few highlights of the highest winds measured at the ground during Katrina, before instrument failure:

New Orleans Lakefront Airport: sustained winds of 69 mph, gusting to 86 mph.
Biloxi's Keesler Air Force Base: sustained winds of 54 mph, gusting to 90 mph.
Gulfport airport: 46 mph, gusting to 58 mph.
Lake Ponchartrain mid-lake buoy: 90 mph, gusting to 114 mph.

Many of us heard that Category 5 winds were measured by the National Weather Service in Katrina. These rumors were aired as fact by television stations and other media outlets during the storm. However, as the post-storm report above outlines, these were just rumors, and no such winds were measured. If you listened to NPR last night, you also might have heard the story of how television stations in Baton Rouge were reporting a huge crime wave in Baton Rouge after the hurricane, and that an armed gang had even taken over the Mayor's office. These reports, later found out to be completely untrue, led to four-hour waits to buy guns at local gun stores in Baton Rouge. According to NPR, there was no increase in crime in Baton Rouge after the hurricane. The media, at times, did a poor job in separting fact from fiction during the storm, and there were in reality no sustatined winds above Category 1 measured on the ground during Katrina.

Obviously, a demotion of Katrina to Category 3 status would have political consequences. The levees of New Orleans were supposed to be able to withstand a Category 4 hurricane, and it appears as if they were done in by winds of only 95 mph--what one would find in a strong Category 1 hurricane. Still, Katrina at landfall in Mississippi was no ordinary hurricane. It brought the largest storm surge ever recorded in an Atlantic Hurricane to shore in Mississippi--28 feet, measured at the Hancock County, Mississippi EOC in Bay St. Louis. This is over five feet higher than the previous record set in Category 5 Hurricane Camille of 1969. So while the winds at landfall in Mississippi may have been Category 3 or even lower, the storm surge was a Category 5 plus! The storm surge levels that breached the New Orleans levees were probably characteristic of at least a Category 3 hurricane, and perhaps a Category 4. As both myself and Steve Gregory have emphasized in our blogs, the Saffir-Simpson scale of ranking hurricanes is inadequate; an additional scale ranking storms by damage potential from winds, storm surge and rainfall is needed. The reason no such scale has been implemented yet is that the NHC fears the added complexity may serve only to confuse the public. This is a valid concern, considering 40% of New Orleans' population before Katrina was illiterate, making hurricane education a very difficult undertaking in this city. Add to this the fact that many areas of the booming U.S. coast are being populated by hurricane neophytes, who just moved to the coast from areas that don't have hurricanes. Perhaps now that Katrina has gotten our attention, though, hurricane education will be an easier task, and we can start the talk about implementing a new damage scale.

Jeff Masters

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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139. CrazyC83
4:14 AM GMT on October 14, 2005
His analysis is pure hogwash. Consider that most land data would not survive the strong winds and were probably blown off long before the eyewall came, I can't see why they are resorting to egotistical data. This is just a political attempt to scare people into thinking something worse will happen later.

The pressure of 918 mb at landfall supports winds of up to 165-175 mph, and even if it was weakening at the time, they should have still been at least 150 mph at landfall. Even the 925 mb when it hit Mississippi could sustain 155-160 mph, and likely would have been at least 135 mph in the weakening. Not to mention hurricane force winds were reported as far north as northern Mississippi!

If anything, Katrina was a Category 5 at landfall, not a Category 3.
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138. jimpike
3:57 AM GMT on October 14, 2005
What I don't understand is this...

My little personal weather station here in MEMPHIS recorded 71 MPH winds from Katrina.

It blew my front two windows out and warped the door in the frame enough to allow rain to blow into my house and ruining 2600 square feet of hardwood floors.

I have pictures of the winds in action and the damage.

I just think that Katrina was stronger than the isolated wind measurements indicate...

A positive thing did come from this though... we ended up getting new floors and went to Panama City this past week while they were getting done...

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137. cd22277
2:36 AM GMT on October 14, 2005
I know a 106 mph wind was recorded in Biloxi,MS...that was right before the equipment was blown over. The GPT reading is right, only until the early morning hours. I don't think we'll ever really know true wind speeds because almost all the equipment was damaged...and forget getting true rainfall totals.
I'm also pretty sure that there were hurricane force winds in Starkville, MS(4 hours north of the coast).
My point is...there's no way it could have been a Cat 1 on the Mississippi coast....just look at the destruction!
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136. weatherspirit
12:19 AM GMT on October 14, 2005
I really wish there was an edit button...

Hello, all! Decided to chime in about this fascinating subject... My girlfriend's family lives in Biloxi, MS, and decided to ride out the storm. Their house must have been the best built house in the neighborhood. About six trees fell on and around the house, but not a single brick or shingle is missing. Brick houses, good against wind (Three Little Pigs), utterly useless against a 25-30+ foot storm surge. After watching and anticipating this monster storm blow up into a massive Cat 5 and make its way up north, we could only sit and ponder what happened to the Gulf Coast.

Two days later, we grabbed some gas, essentials such as food and water and drove up there to see if her family was fine, and to see the destruction. The I-110 bridge was not knocked out, but she decided to take a longer way, and go up Back Bay Biloxi. The Bay flooded, as Katrina's storm surge filled it with an excess of at least 15' of water. Entire homes were muddied and destroyed by the floodwaters. We finally got through the roads safely, dodging the downed trees, powerlines that we hoped were not active (6 5-gallon tanks of gas for the cars and generators in the back of our car) and plywood with nails in them.

Her family survived, and was in good spirits throughout the whole ordeal. We stayed there for three days without electricity, and finally, on the second day of being there, ventured out to Highway 90, Beach Blvd, to see the destruction.

We went towards Point Cadet, East Biloxi and Casino Row, where the most damage in Biloxi was felt. The casinos were floating barges. As you can imagine, one of the casinos, named Casino Magic, wasn't so magical and floated up the beach while at the same time splitting apart, the smaller piece floating into a historic apartment building and finally coming to a stop right next to it, and hte larger piece floated right over Highway 90 and deposited on the other side. The largest structure on the coast, The Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino, had extensive damage on its coastward face, but was actually livable above the second story, where most of the floading took place. The Hard Rock Casino was slated to open Sept 17, but Katrina destroyed half of it, and the guitar statue outside still stands. Most of the other casinos were either listing against its own parking garage (Isle of Capri), or on the other side of Highway 90. The bridge that connected Biloxi and Ocean Springs was totally wiped out, except for the middle, which curiously survived.

Biloxi was a place that I fell in love with, since I went to school at Keesler AFB, when I was in the Navy, and believe it or not, it was weather forecasting I was studying. I still am in love with the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and used to enjoy going down Highway 90 from Pascaguala all the way into Waveland. I will enjoy it again, even though I currently live in Orlando, FL. I have plans to move back at the end of November, and I will gladly pick up a hammer to help this community, MY community, rebuild.

The winds were powerful, the waves were harsh, but they couldn't break the spirit of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in my opinion the forgotten survivors of Katrina. I will not forget, and the truth be told, anyone that tries to deny the fact that Katrina was a severe storm is doing a disservice to the survivors, who do not care what Category she was on an arbitrary hurricane scale. They saw that "Katrina" was just another name for "Destruction", and will hopefully never, ever think that they can survive another one and take it for granted.

The reason my girlfriend's family stayed, "Well, we lived through Camille..." But you've never seen her wicked sister Katrina, until now...
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135. missmtsam
11:29 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
I have read Dr. Masters' post, as well as everyone's comments, with great interest. I live in Bay St. Louis, MS (Hancock County). Our county was literally ground zero for this storm. While we did have unprecedented flood damage and destruction, there was also significant wind damage. To think that Katrina was a category 1 hurricane at landfall in Mississippi is simply ludicrous. If that were the case, a category 3+ storm would have wiped our county off the map. Oh, wait, Katrina already did that!!!! Even 8-10 miles inland there are steel billboards snapped in two, well above any height there could have been water; our forests look like bombs exploded in them, and there are roofs and building material scattered as far as the eye can see. Chimneys were blown off houses, trees are down literally everywhere, and cars are overturned.

I must admit that water did significant damage to a large part of our county. However, I can't fathom how a category 1 hurricane could have caused a storm surge sufficient enough to wipe an entire county off the map. There are no homes standing within several blocks of the beach. From that area of total destruction to 5-10 miles inland, every home and business was flooded, many by as much as 20+ feet of water. Estimates are that 85% or more of the homes in our county are not livable. With all the destruction hurricane Camille (reportedly the worst storm in our history) caused, it is nothing like the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

I do not know what the wind speeds were for Katrina, whether recorded or not. I know that I sat in a covered brick carport in Gulfport 2 miles inland and watched most of the storm. I saw whole trees and lawns uprooted and roofs blown away. The brick home we stayed in shook, howled, and groaned (but stood!) It took 24 hours after the storm before we were able to get around the downed trees and debris to even make our way to our home in Hancock County. We exited interstate 10 on highway 603 and drove 5 miles south to our home, which is still 8-10 blocks from the beach, and there was absolutely nothing left along 603. Our home was still standing, though had 4 feet of water. We are in zone C, at 23 feet. That was definitely water damage. However, every tree in our yard is uprooted, every shingle on our roof is gone, our siding has been stripped from the house (although the brick structure still stands). That is definitely wind damage, not water. I just cannot see how a category 1 could cause that much damage. Hurricane George several years ago was a category 3 and it did not do anywhere near that much damage to our house. Granted, we were on the "good" side of the storm for that one, but it is still unbelievable. If this storm is re-classified, then there must be another system created to classify the intensity of hurricanes. I have to say I have honestly never seen anything like this in my life, and hope to never see it again.
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132. hurricanechaser
10:57 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Just for the record, I have never implied Katrina was even close to a category five at landfall. Nor was she a strong category one neither.
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130. hurricanechaser
10:44 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Im sorry Lefty...It takes me so long to type that I missed youre comments..Its great seeing you on again. That video clip is only posted because its the one that shows a roof being lifted off and destroyed which was featured on Fox News and CNN the following day. It was around 11:20 am CDT when that footage was captured. The winds had just begun reaching hurricane force around 11 am or so. It would be another two hours before the Forrest County EOC would officially record a wind gust of 100 mph before its anemometer was disabled. I also recorded a wind gust of 104.8 mph myself with my hand held anemometer at roughly the same time. I didn't attempt any further observations thereafter because the ferocity of the winds increased dramatically through 1:40 pm CDT. There was a recorded gust of 114 mph before instrument failure at the Ellisville TV station which is another 20 miles or so north of my location around 1:30 pm CDT. Even more astonishing is the 110 mph measurement recorded by the JOnes County EOC in Laurel, MS. which is a full 35 miles further north of my location prior to its anemometer failing at about 2 pm CDT.

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129. quipment
10:40 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Dr. masters has a new post up
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128. tornadoty
10:39 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
All of you who have concerns about this, I recommend mailing Dr. Masters. Make sure you are polite, not sarcastic, and thank him for spending some time on this issue.
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127. leftyy420
10:38 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
hurrigo anor'easter is just a strong low pressure system that moves up the coast. a non tropical low. they are cold core systems whihc is why they are not tropicale. they are also called barclonic storms,. they can happen year round but usually start taking off this time of year.
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126. hurricanechaser
10:34 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Storm chasr,
If you look at the visible satellite and even radar observations , Katrina still had a very impressive and well intact eyewall for a storm so far inland. It didn't erode significantly until it moved past Laurel, MS. 100 mile inland.

If Katrina was even a weak category two at most as you suggest, then that was one impressive tropical depression that brought wind gusts above hurricane force 150 miles inland. Not too even mention, I wonder how much destruction the next weak category two hurricane (oops.. I meant strong tropical storm by Dr. Powells theory)wil bring when it strikes our coastlines.
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125. leftyy420
10:34 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
here is the link to chasers vidoe clip of some strong winds which i assume was not the peak and shows how powerful they were wqell befor the eye passed. correct me if i am wrong chaser

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124. tornadoty
10:30 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Warning to trolls: I am about to go against what Dr. Masters said.

I do think that Katrina will remain a category four in the final report. The data is incomplete (which is normal for intense hurricanes), the methods that Dr. Powell used are experimental, and, if for no other reason, the human suffering was almost unparalleled to the suffering in any other disaster in U.S. history.
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123. hurigo
10:30 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Left, thanks. So when do we transition to "N'oysters," and what is the difference?
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122. tornadoty
10:26 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Stormchaser77, it is important to remember 2 things:

1. Only the eastern half of the city of NO was in the WESTERN (weak) part of the eyewall.

2. The pressure at Mississippi landfall was still 927 MB, with an IMPRESSIVE satellite appearance.
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121. leftyy420
10:24 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
lol yeah chaser. he also staes his observations could be off by as much as 10 percent. but it could be more as it was experimental. at the end of the article he also says that it is unlikley katrina will be downgraded by the nhc in the anylasis. so it shows that even the nhc will not use his data in their post anylasis
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120. hurricanechaser
10:24 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
sorry..that was respectfully disagree for the aforementioned reasons.
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119. hurricanechaser
10:23 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
I respectively disagree and heres my reason why..

Posted By: hurricanechaser at 8:25 PM GMT on October 13, 2005.

Ok everyone. First of all, I experienced first-hand the sustained cat. one plus wind speeds from Katrina 65 miles inland at South Hattiesburg, MS. I was filming the action from 10:15 am CDT to 3:00pm CDT at a location that was exactly .01 miles (next door basically) to the Forrest County EOC that officially recorded a maximum wind gust of 100 mph before the instrument failed. They estimated the time of this measurement at 1 pm CDT and I was there to physically observe the winds intensify up until 1:40 pm CDT. Moreover, the Jones County EOC in Laurel, MS. which is 100 miles inland recorded a peak wind of 110 mph before they also experienced instrument failure around 2 pm CDT. As mentioned earlier, there was another officially recorded peak wind gust measured in Ellisville, MS. which is located between Hattiesburg and Laurel at 114 mph before that Anemometer failed as well around 1:30 pm CDT. To reiterate the previous comments by DSG2k, these are actual recorded and verifiable wind speeds. Thus, they don't require a Doctorate to understand that each of these locations experienced wind gusts exceeding 120 mph plus and most likely even greater. Its foolish for anyone regardless of their background to suggest Katrina was a category one hurricane at its third landfall along the Mississippi coastline. If true, it would be unlikely for a strong category one in a weaking phase nonetheless to deliever wind gusts exceeding 120 mph on the coast itself much less than 100 miles inland! Currently, Hurricane Dennis maximum recorded wind gust was 121 mph at Navarre Beach in the right front quadrant of this strong Category three hurricane at landfall. It is correctly categorized with sustained winds of 120 mph at landfall. Moreover, it was also in a weakening phase as it also crossed the coastline. In this hurricane, I filmed the action from the still very intense eyewall just east of Atmore, Al. which is about 40 miles inland from the coast where peak winds are officially estimated to have exceeded 100 mph. This is just one example of many major hurricanes making landfall and the land based data not corresponding to the peak winds that actually existed as a result of the anemometers getting dstroyed or experiencing system failure well before the powerful eyewall moves through these areas. As noted in the post storm report which can be found on the New Orleans NWS website, highly experienced NWS personnel surveyed exstensive and extreme damage equivilent to an f3 tornado for the hardest hit areas at the inland locations that experienced the very destructive northeast eyewall of this intense category three hurricane as it moved inland. They obsrved and documented exstensive damage of F1 and F2 tornado intensity throughtout all these areas as far north as Meridian Mississippi which is roughly 150 miles inland. In addition, they state that F1 damage was noted areas even farther north of that. WOW! all of this extraordinary damage from a weaking Category one at landfall. I have heard the suggestion made that this damage and the peak recorded winds being attributed to brief tornados. Absolutely not the case, I was there In South Hattiesburg, MS. and witnessed the extraordinary straightline winds blast through with the still very powerful right front quadrant of this storm. I also filmed the aftermath which was all clearly the result of straightline winds over 100 mph. Many people assume that astonishing inland damage much be attributed to tornadoes. The reason they mistakingly make this assumption is that few people rarely witness the destructive force of a straightline wind exceeding 100 mph. The fact is that the comparison could be made that Katrina was a 25-40 mile tornado that brought F1 damage more than 150 miles inland. For those who still wish to attribute these extreme winds and resultant damage to tornadoes, it must be realized that there were ony 11 tornadoes officially identified by doppler radar and none of these were noted in the aforementioned areas referrenced above. All of this doesn't take into account the officially recorded (not estimated by someone who was presumably thousands of miles away at the time of this reading)peak wind gust of 134.5 mph at Popularville, MS. which is roughly 50 miles inland if I'm not mistaken. If DR. Powell wishes to downgrade Katrina to a strong category one at landfall on the Mississippi coastline, then He needs to upgrade it shortly thereafter back to a significant category three as it passed through Popularville and then weaking down to a Strong category two as it moved through areas farther north of there, then back to a strong category one 100 miles inland. Naturally, this sounds absurd to suggest such a thing on my part. HOwever, I find it just as absurd to suggest Katrina was a weakening category one hurricane at landfall and produce wind gusts exceeding 100 mph more than 100 miles inland. As is always the case, It is extremely rare for land based anemometers to come close to actually recording winds characteristic of a storms true intensity due to malfunctioning equipment in such extraordinary winds. It stands to reason that areas that bore the absolute brunt of Katrinas strongest winds along the coast had to experience winds exceeding the 134.5 mph gust at Popularville some 50 miles inland. For the sake of argument, lets assume that the coastal areas received the same peak winds. If so, a weakening category one hurricane cannot produce a wind gust that high. It would take at least a minimal category three to do so. Based upon DR. Powells new theory, I guess legendary Hurricane Camille which is currently listed as a powerful category five with (estimated) sustained 190 mph winds at landfall will need to be downgraded to a strong category three perhaps! LOL. In short, its ridiculous to suggest Katrina was only a category one at the Mississippi landfall based upon all that is based on fact not someones opinion. Furthermore, the coastal locations didn't record wind speeds at anytime after 5 am CDT, well before Katrina plowed ashore at 10 am CDT. At that point, they were just beginning to encounter wind gusts approaching hurricane force. Please see the NWS link for the post storm report on the New Orleans NWS website. Please remember that the times listed by all observations are in the standard UTC format. In the Central Daylight time zone, simply subtract five hours in military time to determine the exact time these measurements were made. Based upon DR. Powells new theory, I experienced a powerful tropical storm here in Wilmington back in 1996 when category three hurricane Fran came ashore. Then again, that was quite a powerful tropical depression that the residents of La. experienced from strong categhory one hurricane Lili back in 2002. I find it ironic that they decide to upgrade Hurricane Andrew from category four to a strong category five for the area where they experienced it 10 years after the fact which I'm not disputing. On the othe hand, It doesn't seem plausible how they could determine that Katrina was only a strong category one hurricane a few weeks later in spite of all the official data to the contrary. Although, such an assertion certainly will get you quite a bit of attention and many articles presenting you as a profound expert in your field of study. Please forgive me for any typos or improper grammar, I have to run and don't have time to proof read it. Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this comment and I hope each of you have a great day.
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118. tornadoty
10:22 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Lefty, I COMPLETELY agree with you. In fact, I mailed Dr. Masters about that, and I hope for a response either by mail or in tomorrow's entry, along with several other questions I posed.
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117. hurricanechaser
10:21 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Hey stormchaser,
Where did you experience Katrinas powerful winds that eventful day?
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116. leftyy420
10:20 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
aquak9 no have not heard from him

77, thers no data supporting either side. limited data means she will be a cat4 in the post anylasis. most reporting statins ans wins sites went down during the storm meaning data is unaccurate and spotty at best
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115. hurricanechaser
10:19 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
As I read the Sun-Sentinel article from which this topic was derived, I was struck by two important observations. First, Why has Dr. Powell overlooked or decided not to mention the officially recorded wind gusts exceeding over 100 mph as much as 120 miles inland from the coast. Likewise, why wasn't the 134.5 mph wind gust recorded in Popularville, MS. some 50 miles inland not noted as well in the article. Instead, He chooses to emphasize these new and "EXPERIMENTAL" wind measuring devices that don't come close to obtaining a wind gust above 114 mph at the coast, and that was in La. when it was stronger. The official land based observations stations were all dismantled for various reasons by the extreme winds prior to the intense eyewall of Katrina passing over them. Thus, How can HE or anyone else explain how Katrina apparently rapidly intensified as it moved well inland bringing stronger observed winds to locations more than 100 miles inland than those He sites as a legitimate case for Katrinas downgrade to a weakening category one at the Mississippi landfall. Secondly, I wondered why Dr. Powell even make such an absurd proposition. Only He knows the real answer to this question and its truly unfair for me to speculate. HOwever, I struck by the numerous and repetitive references to "political consequences" once this demotion is officially accepted if indeed it will be. In reality, most if not all of us are influenced by core believes which many times shape our political reasoning. Could there be a political motivation behind such a ridiculious assertion. Not to mention the obvious, He will certainly gain alot of significant publicity for this controversial theory. I posted a far more detailed rebuttal to His argument much earlier in this comment awhile ago. I need to get my video clips posted on my website so each of you can see for yourself the extraordinary intensity of Katrinas winds that I captured from an apparent tropical storm or will it be downgraded later to a tropical depression.. LOL
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113. aquak9
10:17 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
lefty(sorry to barge in, ya'll) did you ever get the video from stormtop?
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111. leftyy420
10:11 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
hurrigo there is a massive upper level low off the coast of nc as well as atleast 3 surface low centers. this complex will oikl;ey form a non-tropical system thjat is going to smack ne and canada later this weekend or early next week.

the area in the carribean is very far from beiong a depression. there is currently no low level circulation and the area of low pressure is still very broad and shear is still 20 kts. it is getting more orginised and coul;d form a depression in 48-72 hrs maybe sooner maybe not at all
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110. leftyy420
10:08 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
all those hurricanes weakened prior to landfall for different reasons. ivan had dry air intrusion, deniss was shear and cold water, katrins was dry air and shear and the process of eye wall replacement. rita was due to eye wall replacement cycle.

the thing about major canes is that they will fluctuate in strength due to internal processes. thats always been known. thats why only 2 cat 5's have ever hit the us. its hard for a storm to get that strong and maintain its cat4 or cat 5 intenisty all the way to landfall. but it was different reasons for each one.
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109. hurricanewayne
10:08 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
OK EVERYBODY LOOK at the last few frames of the system south of Jameica.. now THAT looks like a depression!
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108. hurigo
10:06 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Left are you there and can you advise: Thought I saw a swirl just off coast of NC/VA earlier today. Last brief look, thought perhaps it has moved further south ?west (or maybe I just didn't catch right frame.) Someone who can view better, please advise
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107. GainesvilleGator
10:03 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Ok, lets put the wind speed controversy behind with Katrina for a moment. Are there any disputes with the wind speeds for Rita? Over past two hurrican season's, we saw several storms weaken considerably prior to landfall (Ivan, Denis, Katrina, & Rita). Is this just because of the combination of cooler waters, wind shear/ dry air? Only Charley hit at peak intensity.

I read something recently stating that the levees in New Orleans would only be reconstructed to their pre-Katrina fortifications prior to the start of next hurricane season. Is there any validity to this? Is it logistically possible to have a completely re-engineered levee system able to withstand a cat 5 hurricane completed in next 7 months?
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106. hurigo
9:58 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Thought I saw a swirl just off coast of NC/VA earlier today. Last brief look, thought perhaps it has moved further south ?west (or maybe I just didn't catch right frame.) Someone who can view better, please advise.
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105. snowboy
9:46 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Had to duck out after my last posting, asking if fortified observation stations were the answer to getting good wind data at the peak of a storm's landfall.

Thanks for all your thoughtful replies and discussion, which make clear that they're probably not, given funding constraints and given the vast distances of coastline needing to be covered.

So what about portable observation units? You could build say a dozen, armoured to withstand the worst conditions, each with an independent power source. Just move them into the area of expected landfall, and set em up. While the cost per unit would be high, the overall cost should not be prohibitive and would much improve the data and thus the science.
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104. billsfaninsofla
9:42 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
CGables... exactly with regards to Katrina's strength when she hit Florida... there was a 98 mph wind gust at Port Everglades...if that was a cat 1, I'm not sure I even want to see a cat 2..
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103. HateHurricanes
9:39 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Well, RW. Weather,is weather, is weather. All aspects. It's when people talk about their grandkids and don't stop that gets me. Anyway, your post was very funny!
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102. rwdobson
9:20 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
How dare you change the subject back to what it was supposed to be anyway!
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101. tornadoty
9:19 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
To change the subject for just a minute minute,
Look at the latest Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook:


Mentions two possible areas of development, including one in the Caribbean.
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100. TPaul
9:18 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
For most of the country this is going to be an easy winter. There will be cold spells but they will be broke with mini Indian Summers. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see 70's in January here in Kentucky. Of course if you are on the East coast it may not be so nice.
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99. rwdobson
9:18 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
The last "official" forecast from the CPC is actually calling for a warm winter for most of the US. A new one will be released next Thursday.

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98. JupiterFL
9:13 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
From what there saying this is going to be a very cold winter.
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97. tornadoty
9:12 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Hey guys, I suggest that if you have questions, pose them to Dr. Masters in a mail. That is what I did with the Sun-Sentinel article, and that is why this is being discussed today. Usually, at the very least, he will try to mail you back. Just don't send him a mail every time you have a question. Wait for a few questions, word them well, and make sure to thank him for his time on this subject.
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96. rwdobson
9:06 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
I don't know what times the recordings were taken; I was just quoting verbatim from the original blog entry.
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95. Jedkins
8:54 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Also a fence or roof or some sort of debris could block the anemometer,there are all sorts of complications that make observations inaccurate as a stronger hurricane makes landfall.
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94. primez
8:53 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
rw, what times wrer those recordings taken at?
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93. Jedkins
8:49 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Well as the post above said above and I know myself,whoever is suggesting this has IGNORED HIGHER OBS,which I don't know why but I have observed this with some people before,ALSO ABOUT EVERY OBS WAS OUT A WAYS BEFORE EVEN PEAK WINDS WERE AFFECTING THE COAST,also many times obs often have MALFUNTions at landfall and so do RAINFALL amounts AND SURGE,something as violent as this,well it is HARD to know how bad a hurricane at this intensity really is,esspecially rainfall,I mean you have to consider that debris can block an anemometer,not allowing true measurements,it could get submerdged by rain,the pwer can go out,and surge can submerdge generators completely knocking out power,anemometers can snap or stop working from to much intense wind,rain and debris,also rainfall is also hard to pinpoint in such an intense storm as wind rain is wind driven,and tropical rains come in fast moving waves on and off bursts of intense rain that can get whipped around and often may not collect in a hurricane efficiently.So I have concluded that WE OFTEN MAY NEVER GET AN ACCURATE OBSERVATION OF STRONG HURRICANES MAKING LANDFALL BECAUSE OF MANY EFFECTS THAT CAN CUASE MALFUNTION,INACURATE MEASUREMENTS,AND FAILURE OF OBS AS A STRONG HURRICANE MAKES LANDFALL,in fact I believe thAat it is hard to pinpoint exact intensity at landfall as a storm is 105 mph or greater can effect obs significantly enough for their to be possible false reports.This includes both under and over measure ments or non at all,but many NONE and UNDER measurements.Maybe this will help you all understand this issue a bit more....
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92. frivolousz21
8:49 PM GMT on October 13, 2005

why wont anyone acknowledge..that the melting of the galciers in the north atlantic, northern canada and norht of Alaska is the reason the lower 48 USA isnt as cold in the winter...

the colder air cannot sustain traveling over dry land...also there would be less cold air pocket with less ice up north.

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91. Weatherwatcher007
8:41 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
I think the Saffir-Simpson scale should be changed. It just is too simple. It needs to take pressure, and damage potential into consideration. It is ok to use now but soon it is going to have to be fixed.
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90. rwdobson
8:40 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
"Here's a few highlights of the highest winds measured at the ground during Katrina, before instrument failure:

New Orleans Lakefront Airport: sustained winds of 69 mph, gusting to 86 mph.
Biloxi's Keesler Air Force Base: sustained winds of 54 mph, gusting to 90 mph.
Gulfport airport: 46 mph, gusting to 58 mph.
Lake Ponchartrain mid-lake buoy: 90 mph, gusting to 114 mph."

Note that key phrase: BEFORE INSTRUMENT FAILURE.

I find it quite surprising that any scientist would make a statement like 'Katrina was only a Cat 1' based on readings from instruments that failed, and obviously didn't record the maximum wind speeds.

That's like turning off your thermometer at 10 am every day during July, then reporting a maximum monthly temperature of 83 degrees.
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89. Weatherwatcher007
8:37 PM GMT on October 13, 2005
Hey everyone,

Its been a looooooooooong time since I've been here. I left Orangeburg and had a whole lot of other things going on. Tammy was nice for SC. It ended a month long dry spell.
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Category 6™


Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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