Katrina weakening--but still of catastrophic intensity

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

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


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

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818. furstie
10:31 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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817. Bamaman
10:36 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Yeah, the best wind I've seen all night is coming through my area of Mobile.
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816. mobilehurricane
5:34 AM CDT on August 29, 2005
here in mobile with power still even though the wind is really beginning to pick up...steady 25mph and gusting over 40 according to my equipment
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815. Katrina3
10:33 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Well Like I said earlier we have already had some pretty good squalls for being this far east. Lots of limbs down in my yard. BIG sycamore limbs.
Kat
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814. SirVivor
10:34 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Yep, the Navy website sid an hour ago that it was going to go up through Grand Isle, then hit again along the LA/Ms border. This close to impact, the Navy tends to be pretty accurate.
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812. AySz88
6:34 AM EDT 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)
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811. USAmet
10:32 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
they just said on fox news that the NHC has said that it is beginning a north movement with an east component
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810. SirVivor
10:28 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Katrina3, I don't think you need to worry about her bouncing of LA and turning east. The steering currents will bring her inland, then turn a bit east. She will head up to Tennessee and Kentucky. Ya'll ought to be safe over in Panama City....except maybe for some squalls and tornados. Could be worse....these Midwest tornandos can be several miles wide and can get as strong as 200+mph....and you only get 15 minutes warning when they hit. Can't wait to get back down to 'hurricane alley' where you can at least sort of predict what the weather is going to do in time to get away. All that tronado siren gives me time to do is bend over and kiss my butt goddbye!
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809. Katrina3
10:31 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
LOL True!
I'm well east of you, but still worried.
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808. 53rdWeatherRECON
10:29 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
That would have given her time to finish this eywall replacement. But I don't know if she will make it. If she turns to the NE. It would be worse at this time.
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807. SaymoBEEL
5:29 AM CDT on August 29, 2005
GMTA Kat
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806. SaymoBEEL
5:25 AM CDT on August 29, 2005
I'm waiting in fear of a NE turn putting the eye over Biloxi. Thoughts?
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805. Katrina3
10:27 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
This will probably sound silly, but what are the chances that she will bounce off La and head east?
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804. 53rdWeatherRECON
10:20 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
She is going to complete this cycle. Her eyewall may never get as symetric but she has definitly maintained her strong CAT 4. I still see convection bursts pretty high on the west side and if her eyewall shrinks again she will whip out thoes 165-170 winds once again.
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803. SirVivor
10:22 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Port, I just saw where the lake was up to something like 7'11" ...not sure but I think that is above normal. Don't know how much is required for it to lfood, but it seems to me like almost 8 feet ought to be pretty significant....
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802. SaymoBEEL
5:12 AM CDT on August 29, 2005
Someone also needs to open those beauty supply stores for curler emergencies (you know incase of tv interviews). Got to have those curlers in.
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801. Port
10:14 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Anyone know the status of the lake levels? (Ponchetrane)
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800. AySz88
6:13 AM EDT 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)
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799. lsutigervet
10:12 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
xkcd,

Hurricane Lili ran into fairly cold water off the southern coast of Louisiana that had been stirred up by Isidore just a week prior. All south Louisiana meteorologists I've seen give an opinion on the sudden demise of Lili say the cooler water temps were the cause.
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798. iyou
10:12 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
where does your aunt live - i'm in Canada too- maybe i know her - lol
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797. SirVivor
10:05 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Yeah, the money is safe...but they probably had the employees working right up until Civil Defense told them to get out or else! I used to be a district manager of 13 stores and they would not allow us to close our stores unless the mall's anchor stores closed. The mall management all went home, but the employees had to stay and work in a mall where there was no one but other employees..then we had to drive home in gale force winds. God forbid they should miss out on someone having to run out nad buy a new outift from Dillard's at the last minute for the hurricane party....and having bought the new outfit at Dillard's they would, of course, have had to come by my store and by costume jewelry and hair accessories to go with it. I was so mad...but our contract with the mall said that we had to stay if the mall was open or if the anchor stores were open. If I had closed my store, we would have lost our lease....and all my employees would have lost their jobs. So, I did what any good manager would do...I sent all my employees home, then I spent the next two hours calling the mall manager at his home every ten minutes and asking if we could close yet. Boy did he get mad at me....LOL! Of course, that was back before caller ID so he couldn't just 'not' answer the phone....
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796. TotalDestruction
10:08 AM GMT op 29 Augustus, 2005
No to my aunt in Canada... :S
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795. 53rdWeatherRECON
9:59 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
915 pressure. Ha it went up to 917 at one time with 150 winds. I expect to see the winds possibly CAT 5 for one more brief period this morning just before its final landfall....
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794. WeatherSpotter
10:05 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Total Destruction are you talking to me
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793. Katrina3
10:05 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Parade or trolley cam has lights
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792. iyou
10:02 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
you can see it better here - http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/atlantic/storm/archive/javabd2.html
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791. xkcd
10:00 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Repeating my earlier post here, with the mention of Lili (this is my first post here)

I haven't seen anyone mention Lili -- I recall that it was looking like a pretty serious hit, cat-4 at least, and then just as it made landfall (overnight, I believe) it weakened dramatically and caused far less damage than expected, and no one was entirely sure why it had happened.

Anyone have more info on that? I remember someone saying that probably some Ph. D theses were going to be written on the reasons for Lili's disintegration.

Could that be happening to Katrina now? The weakening, not the theses.
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790. SirVivor
10:03 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Man, Ill bbe glad when the sun comes up...it is too hard to see what is going on with the lights out.
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789. SaymoBEEL
5:00 AM CDT on August 29, 2005
Not to worry Sir, the casinos had their emergency evacuation plans activated.....for the money.
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788. stormspotter
9:57 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
On that buoy page it shows that Grand Isle had a gust of 89 knots (102 mph), but the weather channel says they have 114 mph winds.
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787. WeatherSpotter
10:03 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
TWC Radar showed it jogging LEFT or WEST towards NO.
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786. TotalDestruction
10:03 AM GMT op 29 Augustus, 2005
WS liar!
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785. StormJunkie
9:59 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Jog right whole left side gone? Thank god for NO, but can anyone justify that?
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784. iyou
9:49 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
it definitely looks crashing waves on the beadcam
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783. WeatherSpotter
9:56 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Power is out at the camera site again
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782. Katrina3
9:59 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
We are really getting pelted here (Panama City). Nothing like NO, but more than I thought. Just had several big limbs come down off the tree in the front yard.
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781. cajunkid
4:58 AM CDT on August 29, 2005
stormjunkie, I think lilly did the same thing
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780. SirVivor
9:51 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Link

Navy graphic shows it hitting on the LA/MS border...but not before crossing Grand Isle.. In any case even if NO does not get a direct hit, there will be enough water to flood the bulk of the city. It might not wipe it off the map, but it will neeed some serious house cleaning to get in in shape before Mardi Gras this year.

Meanwhile, I'm kinda wondering what is going to happen to all those gambling boats in Biloxi and Pascagoula....not to mention Ingall's shipbuilding in Gautier. The whole Gulf Coast from NO to Panama City Beach is pretty much going to be a wash as far as tourism and other industry goes for a while. And if these massive 'canes keep hitting, I"m afraid that the bases in NW Florida will find themsleves on the BRAC list so along with the tourism, the military industry will also bite the bullet. Hey, maybe the real estate market will bust and I can afford to move back home...LOL! Nah, SE Alabama is about as close as I want to get to the coast with the hurricanes getting meaner like they have been...
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779. cgableshurrycanegal
5:55 AM EDT on August 29, 2005
will check in later... keeping good thoughts and prayers for all in path of this monster.
we still have 100,000's w/o power and flooded and Kat was only cat1 at the time. has a mean streak with surprises up its sleeve. not the time to let down one's guard.
Prayers for all.
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778. jsdub525
9:56 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
53, you're really something ..lol.. it will be interesting to see in the next hour
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777. cajunkid
4:55 AM CDT on August 29, 2005
we need these storms though, image the heat built up
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776. 53rdWeatherRECON
9:53 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
She is going to move right over the smallest part of swamp land she could possibly go over, then over warm shallow water again while her eye is still redeveloping which at one time was completly broken open.
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775. StormJunkie
9:51 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
does anyone think we will ever know what happened to the left side of the storm? I can not say that I have ever seen a portion of the convection just dissapear like that.
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774. cgableshurrycanegal
5:52 AM EDT on August 29, 2005
lol, I remember one guy wanting to nuke hurricanes while out at sea. he seemed to think that if you fought power with power that would negate each other. didn't seem to have an idea what to do with ensuing radioactivity
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773. AySz88
5:53 AM EDT 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: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
772. WeatherSpotter
9:52 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
That cam is getting a beating now
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771. cgableshurrycanegal
5:49 AM EDT on August 29, 2005
when he finds her, they'll be soul-mates.
no rush at this age. trust me, he's got plenty of time.
Now's the time to get all his own ducks in a row and set himself up professionally. Girls his age are mostly way to superficial to worry about, not all, but most
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770. jsdub525
9:50 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
cam is lookin wild right now
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769. WeatherSpotter
9:48 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Look at the TWC Radar it is jogging west
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768. cgableshurrycanegal
5:46 AM EDT on August 29, 2005
so far many options talked about not feasible.
One guy talked about biodegradle film of oil on ocean in path of hurricane something about breaking up the cycle of heat transference as well as absorption of water for rain, obviously never went anywhere
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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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