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Hurricane Katrina revisited: a book review of The Storm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 4:56 PM GMT on March 26, 2007

Last week's stinging report lambasting the Army Corps of Engineers for its failure to build adequate levees to protect New Orleans was written by "Team Louisiana," headed by Dr. Ivor van Heerden of Louisiana State University. He published a book last year titled, The Storm: What went wrong and why during Hurricane Katrina--the inside story from one Louisiana scientist ($17 at amazon.com.) Dr. van Heerden is cofounder and deputy directory of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center and director of the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes. He holds a Ph.D. in marine sciences from LSU, and serves as associate professor of civil and
environmental engineering there. Van Heerden had a very unique perspective of Katrina. He worked tirelessly in the decade leading up to the storm to improve our scientific understanding of how Louisiana's wetlands protect New Orleans from hurricanes. He also worked extensively with FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and political figures at the local, state, and U.S. Congressional levels to try to improve New Orleans' disaster readiness. In the aftermath of the storm, he provided support for the search and rescue efforts and plugging of the levee breaches, then headed one of the teams assigned to figure out what caused the levees to fail. PBS's NOVA did a nice story on him last year, featuring interviews with him from before and after Katrina.

Van Heerden is not afraid to speak his mind, and has made many enemies as a result. His criticisms in the book are far ranging, from university administrators to politicians to government administrators, particularly in FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers. Some readers may not like the amount of criticism in the book, but I had no problem with it. Those responsible for the flooding of New Orleans, failed evacuation efforts, and tragically bungled recovery effort need to be held accountable, since it is crucial that we learn from our mistakes. Van Heerden also has considerable praise for the heros of the Katrina disaster--particularly scientists, the media, and recovery workers and volunteers who responded so magnificently.

Van Heerden is a big proponent of building a flood protection system that will protect Louisiana from a Category 5 hurricane. He proposes doing this by restoring wetlands, building armored levees, and installing huge flood gates on Lake Pontchartrain, similar to what the Dutch use to protect their country from the North Sea. I especially liked his continued emphasis on the importance of doing good science. He is not a fan of what politicians and business leaders do with good science: The science is the easy part. The hard part is overcoming the narrow-mindedness and selfishness of politics and business as usual. For decades the two have undermined plan after plan to restore wetlands, build new ones, and thereby protect people and property. They have played hell with improving the existing levee system. We must do better now, or we can kiss it all good-bye for good. I was not exaggerating in the introduction when I said that politics and business as usual in Louisiana will eventually put everything below Interstate 10 underwater. Science and engineering can save the day, but not if they're censored or manipulated. If that's to be the case, just shelve them and start packing. It's over.

The author is not a smooth and gifted writer--his writing is very blunt and somewhat clumsy, despite the help of his co-author, Mike Bryan, a professional writer brought in to make the book more readable. There are two nice graphics showing the Katrina flooding and the author's proposed flood control system, but most of the graphics are poor black-and-white hand-drawn diagrams. Still, I think the book is an important one to read, since van Heerden is an expert on both the science and the politics of the Katrina disaster. I found his descriptions of all the various political battles in the years leading up to Katrina particularly fascinating. His detailed treatment of how the levee system evolved, how it failed during Katrina, and how it should be rebuilt to prevent a future disaster are also interesting. I did skip over some of the more technical engineering details of the levees he presented, which were very detailed. Overall rating for The Storm: two and a half stars.

Van Heerden is pessimistic that the politicians and Army Corps of Engineers can be trusted to make the right decisions to bring about what Louisiana needs--protection from a Category 5 hurricane. Yet, he will continue to battle on for this goal, concluding the book with this cry to action:

As a nation, lets take up the "Rebuild!" battle cry. Now is the time to put politics, egos, turf wars, and profit agendas aside. We owe it to the thirteen hundred Americans who died in the Katrina tragedy. We owe it to their survivors and to all future generations. It's now or never. Let's show the world what we're all about, here in America in the twenty-first century.

I'll have a new blog Wednesday or Thursday.
Jeff Masters

Book and Movie Reviews

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

Thanks Dr.Masters hopefully this season we wont see any damage along a U.S. coastline.Use this time wisely to prepare and have a hurricane plan in place come june1.Adrian
Crown Weather seems to think a repeat of '04 is coming.
Some readers may not like the amount of criticism in the book, but I had no problem with it. Those responsible for the flooding of New Orleans, failed evacuation efforts, and tragically bungled recovery effort need to be held accountable, since it is crucial that we learn from our mistakes. Van Heerden also has considerable praise for the heros of the Katrina disaster--particularly scientists, the media, and recovery workers and volunteers who responded so magnificently.

They should be held accountable.All the warnings,and they did nothing to stregthen the levees?Everyone knew it would happen someday,yet they still did nothing about the problems.
its monday and you no what that means
The ENSO update is out?
i dont no i think it may be late
Not until the 28th...ENSO update.
The CPC ENSO update is already out.
weatherboykris...not to be critical but the Fed is not the God of the land. Ours is a republic, and the major responsibilities are left to the individual states with common good being promoted through the federal government.
It was the responsibility of the people of Louisiana to properly recognize their problem and address it, with project funds which would have been matched by federal revenue $4 to $1.
Somebody said, 'a government which can provide everything can take everything away'.
Someone else said:"A hurricane hitting new Orleans with the current levee system will kill thousands."No one listened,no one cared,because it would cost too much tax money to fix the system they knew was broke.And look what happened.
: weatherboykris what dos it say what dos it say???
It says the SSTs in the Pacific are getting colder,and that a La Nina is still possible.
Here is the link Kris was referring to! About a repeat of 04!

I am starting to heavily agree with his forcast as time goes on!
If more people would have evacuated NOLA like they were told to, there wouldn't have been so many deaths. Stop blaming the Government.
Yep,it looks like Florida's in for it this summer.
Thanks for posting that link pulse.Rob has a great website and updates his blog often.
JeffM,I can't say I disagree with you entirely.The ingorance of the the general populace,as far as taking evacuation orders seriously,is astounding.To me,if an evacuation order is issued,you leave!You can talk about how they didn't have cars all you want,but fact is that they had 36-24 hours of warning to leave.Walk out,if there are no other options!
On the other hand,the property damage is the government's fault.They knew about the problems with the levees,they knew about the inherent risks hurricanes pose to the city,and yet out of stupidity or corruption they did nothing to fix it.
I think its still early kris and remember things can change there's still 2-3 months before we can begin to really know what steering pattern will be in place.Right now its anybodys guess.Adrian
The EPAC season begins in just a month and a half.
The Atlantic season in just about 2 months.
Katrina was indeed devastating and remember katrina was only a cat3 at landfall.Believe me it can get much worse.
Kris 2 months but the overall steering pattern will not begin to reveal itself for another couple of months.
I'm sure it can.What if it had been a Cat 5?Not only would the surge have been a problem,but the wind would have demolished homes as well.
It would have been similar to the damage seen in Andrew! Those homes are not constructed to latest codes.
I can tell you from experience as ive been threw Cat5 winds before 150-160 to be exact.Its a terrifiing thing to have to experience something like that and i sincerely hope and pray that nothing like that plays out this season.
How come Andrew's surge wasn't as large as other Cat 5's?
I believe because it did hit at the right angle.
It was perpendicular to the coast.Isn't that ideal for storm surge?

Look at the overshooting tops in the rainband to it's west.The forward one.
Look what hurricane wilma did to miami and all we saw here was CAT1 winds maybe a few gusts to CAT2 in very few areas.If wilma had tracked a few miles south the florida keys would have been in a horrible situation.Another very important point if wilma would have stayed offshore we could have easily seen CAT3-4 winds in the heart of miami.Extremely favorable conditions were in place during here very unforgetable pressure drop.
You're talking about staying offshore of the Yucatan,right?
Well,then it would've stayed further south and those Cat 3 or 4 winds in the south eywall would've stayed in the Straits.
Completely devowered those people...

Close-up infrared view from my wilma album.

Notice the concentric eyewalls.
One branches off from another.
Different view.

Wow.I can't wait for hurricane season.
Look at how it was spreading clouds cross South Florida already on Friday afternoon.Huge storm.
Starting here turn towards south florida.

Wilma also had a hug front that moved it quickly to Florida. Imagine if it had time to slow down and reintensify as it pushed over sw fla..remember how cold it was just a few hours after Wilma?
Posted By: weatherboykris at 11:18 AM PDT on March 26, 2007.

Wow.I can't wait for hurricane season.

LOL me to is her her yet is it her yet?????
Yes,I do MP.And without that front,it wouldn't have had as good of outflow and may not have stregnthened.We can never be certain what would've happened.
Intensifying before landfall.

Still two months Taz.
Is that Alpha on the right?
Yea LOL...
Didn't it have a small eye for such a large CDO?
Do you have any microwave images?
How it all began!

(In deep voice)"From humble beginnings!"
Getting her act together....

Here are some kris...

One more...

Nice one
Wilma in that October 19 picture had to be a category 6 hurricane if there was such a designation.
Hurricane23, check your mail box.
Looks like a hurricane on this visible off in the north atlantic.

Whoa, that's cool.
look like we have are 1st name storm
No taz this is no were being tropical in nature.Just overall structure looks similar.
I doubt that, taz. That's clearly extra-tropical.
is that a eye ?
Probably a "pseudoeye."
Extra tropical is correct...SST'S are running very cool in that area.

Wilma in that October 19 picture had to be a category 6 hurricane if there was such a designation

LOL... Actually, I agree with that; here is another image (click to enlarge; the full-size image shows the tiny eye very clearly; the eye itself is the black dot in the middle of the large image):

74. TS2
Ahh... this suspence is killing me...
So, like 2004, eh? I Hope I don't get bashed like I did in Ivan. That was mortifying.
Its very early in the game to really know what areas are likely to be threaten this season.Give it a few months and we might have a better idea.
77. TS2
To tell you the truth...i don't want to find out
I think it would just be easier to wait until a storm actually forms, but, of course, I am basing that on how the 2004 season was.

We all recall our thoughts on what we expected in June and July, and we all were wrong.

In the mean time, I think it would be a good idea to enjoy the nice weather and the severe weather, if any.
Just by looking at the water vapor, I would say the shear is quite bad.
Not a chance in between 30-60kt shear.
82. TS2
60 knots by the looks of it
More models here.
Could somone link me the SST anomalies?
Posted By: Hellsniper223 at 3:41 PM EDT on March 26, 2007.

Could somone link me the SST anomalies?

More Here
Worldwide SST anomalies - notice La Nina:

Don't know if it's been answered, but someone asked why Andrew's surge wasn't as bad as a typical Cat-5 should be, and Katrina's was so bad. Katrina, being only a Cat 3 at landfall, produced far more surge. It has to do with the water being extremely shallow along the LA/MS Gulf Coast. At Waveland, a man can literally walk into the water, and literally a mile later, still be standing with half his body above the waterline. Go ten miles out, and you're talking about maybe 12 feet deep. The surge just piles up on this shallow approach, and is magnified. I'm no expert on the area offshore from Miami, but I do know that it gets deep in a hurry. Also, Katrina was far larger than Andrew, and right before landfall, was also a good bit stronger than Andrew. Just because it made landfall as a Cat 3 doesn't mean the surge goes down as fast as the winds did. That water had been piling up for days, and with her being so large, that also magnifies the surge. Regardless, a Cat 1 or 2 making a direct hit on the LA/MS coast is going to have more surge than a Cat 4 or 5 in S. Florida. Just the topography. I know a lot of people were amazed down there when Wilma created 7-8 foot surge on the west coast of Florida. Waveland would get that with a Cat 1.
Indeed STL.
Andrew was very small and compact but had a core of extremely strongs winds.
Yes I know, but so did Camille. Cat 5 at landfall, 180 mph or so. The surge was far worse in Katrina. As they say, size matters...lol
This image shows the cold water being upwelled along the equator very well:

Also, SST anomalies follow changes in atmospheric circulation, so the atmsophere is already exhibiting La Nina patterns (however, shear is still very high because it normally is high at this time of the year).
If Andrew had dodged Miami and the Keys and gone through the straits north of Cuba and then made a jog North toward the MS,LA coast, imagine that. Andrew did continue to hit LA in '92 but Fla chewed him up and the shear got him a bit...

You just never know, a tight spun buzz-saw 'cane like Andrew can definetly hit the gulf coast and I'd hate to see the destruction there, the water in the gulf is considerably warmer than the east Atlantic coast of FL.
Of course it does...
CB, you said what I was trying to say...better. Bigger fetch, that's it.

MP, yes, Andrew had wound down a good bit before hitting LA. Still, the devestation was incredible, it just didn't hit NOLA, so nobody really knew about it...plus it was only 2 days after it smacked Homestead.

Camille was very similar in size to Andrew, even smaller. But the devestation was indeed terrible. Most of the people along the MS coast figured if they didn't get water with Camille, they wouldn't ever get water. Katrina proved a lot of them wrong. Less powerful, but MUCH larger...bigger fetch. Camille surged about 20-24 feet
Katrina surged about 24-30 feet in the same area along the MS Gulf Coast.
Also, Andrew had really just gotten it's act together right before it came ashore at Homestead. It hadn't been building up surge for several days like Katrina had. Like CB said, it was a faster mover, too.
Right after Katrina, van Heerden was a media star. He traveled with a New Orleans television crew to the Netherlands and filed numerous reports on the "Dutch solution." There was much talk about building a floodgate on Lake Ponchartrain. The enthusiasm for the Dutch flood protection was such that you imagined that planning for similar flood works would commence within the year. Nineteen months later, you don't hear much about it. You hear more calls to do something about restoring the wetlands; but you also hear discussions of how a proposed "great wall of levees" around southeastern Louisiana may kill the wetlands. Some have suggested leaky levees to allow replenishing the wetlands. Others have criticized the plan as unproven.

It's not just a matter of finding the best scientifically correct solution; there's also the problem of financing these multi-billion-dollar projects. Unfortunately, while billions were sent to Gulf Coast for recovery after Katrina, that largess has been harder to come by when finding money to keep another Katrina from happening. No one seems to believe that an ounce of prevention is worth it.

While most projects await Congressional action, some projects arent waiting for federal aid. A 72-mile system of leaky levees, culverts, floodgates and locks in southeast Louisianas Terrebonne Parish is estimated to cost $888 million. Touted as Terrebonnes last hope for hurricane protection, the parish and levee district have started construction with money raised by the state and a local sales tax.

But over a billion dollars of federal money originally slated for levee repair on the east bank of New Orleans has been transferred to west bank projects and the Louisiana congressional delegation is fearful that it will not now be replaced.

Louisiana finally got a share of the oil royalties from off-shore drilling and that money could be used by the state for flood protection. But it will be 10 years before those royalties reach more than a couple of hundred million a year. Not really the billions required for massive flood projects. The state could sell off its anticipated revenues get more money immediately as it did with some of the tobacco settlement revenue; but that greatly reduces the states eventual take.

Of course, all of these projects take time to build. So the best new improvements New Orleans will have to count on for the foreseeable future are floodgates at the mouths of the outfall canals whose breaches flooded the city and armoring of the levees that were overtopped in the eastern part of the city.

But some monumentally important questions continue to go unanswered. Most importantly, what did Congress authorize the Corps to build in 1965? Category 3 protection? Is that most severe combination of meteorological conditions reasonably expected? Should the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet be closed? Who should pay? Will rising sea levels and continuing subsidence eventually doom New Orleans?

These are the kinds of questions that create paralysis. But, I agree with van Heerden that the problems arent insurmountable. Over 100 years ago, giant pumping stations were built on the citys outfall canals allowing the swamp north of the French Quarter enabling the expansion of the city to the Lake. W. H. Bell, the city surveyor, suggested that the pumping stations be built on the Lake at the mouth of the canals. That idea was vetoed and the stations were constructed several miles away from the Lake. That decision may have made sense then because the city hadnt expanded to the Lake. Sixty years later, the swamp was drained, communities settled all the way to the Lake. After hurricane Betsy in 1965, the Corps suggested that floodgates be constructed at the mouths of the drain canals. That idea was vetoed by the city because of fear that the city would flood from rainwater that couldnt be pumped out fast enough because of closed floodgates. Forty years later, New Orleans floods from water from Lake Ponchartrain flowing through the open mouths of the drain canals and undermining the floodwalls along the drainage canals.

Had the pumping stations been constructed at the mouth of the canals or had the floodgates been constructed, the breaches in the outfall canals in 2005 might never have happened. Finally, the Corps has been allowed to construct the floodgates. It only took flooding New Orleans to get it done. Now, if the Corps can only get those pumps it put in to work.

My fear is that a few years without major hurricanes and everyone will become lethargic and complacent. We knew for years that New Orleans could flood. Dr. van Heerdens Hurricane Pam exercise in 2004 predicted what would happen. Did it move our political leaders to action? And, of course, Katrina wasnt even as strong as computer-generated Pam.

Andrew did continue to hit LA in '92 but Fla chewed him up and the shear got him a bit...

I doubt that Florida actually did much to Andrew - it was still a Category 4 after crossing back into the Gulf; by comparison, Katrina was reduced to a tropical storm.
i lived in south florida for andrew and he was very small and quick went of the very southern portion which was actually not very much land at all
katrina was still pretty weAK in comparison when she went acrossed us
Yes, Katrina was a very minimal Cat 1 when it hit FL anyway, so of course it went down a little. But that part of FL doesn't do much to tear storms up, does it. Seems like Andrew was hardly fazed. Andrew was a Cat 4 until right before landfall with LA.
Katrina was reduced to a tropical storm.

Katrina hit Florida as TS
I believe they changed that to a Cat 1, MP. If you look at the archives from '05, you can see the Miami radar loop of Katrina, and it most definitely developed an eye before striking the east coast of FL.

Also, this link shows that it was a Cat 1 in FL.
I guess I'm speaking the truth when I say each monster storm is different, like finger prints, and severity depends on hundreds of timely conditions coming together, whether it be shear, speed, temperature, depth, whats in its path, whats not, is it day or night, etc...why argue when we all know, whether we're acute weather nobles like MichaelSTL or veteran storm sailors like myself, IT COULD ALWAYS BE WORSE, GIVEN THE CONDITIONS PRESENT
Here's the Miami radar loop from Katrina
Well whatever it was it brought an overpass down on the Dolphin Expressway...
It was a Category 1,although JB thinks that it was a Cat 2.Certainly seems possible given the damage it caused.Gimme a minute and I'll get the link.
Storm surge does not always fall true to the category of the storm. It depends on coast line, direction the storm is coming and how long it takes to get to coast line. Katrina was a cat. 5 for a long time in the gulf. The wind speed fell to a cat 3, but the water that was kicked up by the cat 5 winds still have to go some where. Andrew was moving really fast and east coast of Florida is not a big surge area unlike the west side and the gulf with a lot of bays. Charley did not have a big surge because it was only in the gulf for 10 hours and the direction it hit Florida... Also be mind full of the small hurricanes. They seem the have the biggest punch. Charley (8 mile eyes), Wilma (4 mile eye) Labor day Hurricane (2 to 3 mile eye) Andrew (6 mile eye) all the storms where very small at the hight of there power.
It was a Category 1,although JB thinks that it was a Cat 2.Certainly seems possible given the damage it caused.Gimme a minute and I'll get the link.

According to your link, JB has it as a Cat 1, although a stronger Cat 1 than originally reported...93 mph.
Highest windgust i recorded with my vortex in my house was a 77mph windgust early that evening as katrina's eye moved very close if not over the NHC.
Here is a 00Z GFS pic i saved showing a direct hit over Southeastern Louisiana.

lol isnt van heerden a dutch surname
Hey Hurrincane 23 any idea on the Up Coming Season
Katrina hit Florida as TS

Here is the advisory as Katrina hit Florida:

7 PM EDT THU AUG 25 2005


Look at that pressure gradient on H23's map!Never seen that before on a model map,too much a lack of storms last year,LOL.
Yeah Jake,you're right.I remembered it wrong.
Posted By: ClearH2OFla at 6:22 PM EDT on March 26, 2007.

Hey Hurrincane 23 any idea on the Up Coming Season.

Looks like an active season is likely this time around but whether or not we see systems turn away from the U.S. or there steared towards the eastcoast by a strong ridge is yet to be seen because its still way to early to know what kind of steering pattern will be in place in 3-4 months.Overall once may rolls around we may begin to see hints on how things might develope.Adrian








My katrina page
Thanks im still at work. Been a long day. Congrats on your website. Looks great can you repost the link here so i can ad it
Adrian's Weather

Dont work to hard...Hope you have a great evening.
Thanks got 40 min left
Just pray that High moves of the east coast sniper!
On Katrina's FL landfall, it might be good to remember that only a few hours earlier, around 2 p. m. local time, TS Katrina was passing just north and east of Nassau, Bahamas. I remember (and I think I mentioned this here before) being extremely startled by the storm's sudden onset and by its ferocity. It certainly frightened the office staff into heading off early. It's pretty obvious that Katrina's increase in wind speed as it approached FL was at least partially due to the extremely warm waters encountered while crossing the shallow seas of the Bahamas and the pulsating Gulf Stream.

Also, even as a tropical storm Katrina was larger than Andrew.
Its March. No need to worry about the weather pattern yet. Pay no attention to where the Bermuda/Azores High is located, that will change. We will get a better idea of the summer pattern by June 1st.
I'm watching that weather pattern to the east of us with some interest. Currently here the winds have been very high, suggesting that the pressure gradient between that high north of us and the trough to the southeast is pretty steep.

That sure is a broad area of showers for this time of year. Usually it's still cold low fronts that are driving the weather at this time of year. Normally a trough like that wouldn't show up on the map for another couple-three weeks . . .
130. 882MB
Hey BahaHurican,I have been noticing that since yesterday, if we were in HURRICANE SEASON we would be worried but too much SHEAR right now, but it does show that the CARRIBEAN IS FULL OF MOIUSTURE A HUGE DIFFERENCE FROM LAST YEAR!
We definitely had Cat 1 effects from Katrina in Broward County. Then they say Wilma was only a Cat 1 too? The destruction was not comparable.
The thing about Wilma was the gusts,and the fact that it's duration of strong winds was much longer.Besides,most of Broward county didn't recieve Cat 1 winds anyway from Katrina.You probably felt 60mph with gusts to 80.Contrast with 85 and gusts to 105 during Wilma.
Jeez. Always freaks me out when you guys post old hurricane warnings/updates--even this time of the year! :D Everyone getting all set for this season? I picked up a generator at the beginning of last season and have yet to open the box. I am now convinced that as soon as I do open the box we're all in trouble.


Everyone is revving their engines.2 months left.
Weatherboykris--you new this season? I don't remember you from the last few years. Where do you live? Me? I'm in Jacksonville, Florida just biding my time...biding my time.

On another note--as I disappear during the "down" time--is leftyy still around?
Love it! Purple boxes in March. :D

Yes, I am new this year.I joined last December after lurking all of '06.
I don't know if lefty is still around.Members have said they can't wait until me and him meet on here for the first time,so I suppose he hasn't left.I've never spoken to him,so I don't know.
Here's a recent forecast for 2007:

Forecaster expects very active hurricane season
17 storms, 9 of them hurricanes, predicted in Atlantic by private group


Updated: 5:57 p.m. ET March 21, 2007
MIAMI - The Atlantic hurricane season will be exceptionally active this year, according to a British forecasting group, raising the possibility that killer storms like Hurricane Katrina could again threaten the United States.

London-based forecaster Tropical Storm Risk on Tuesday said the six-month season, which begins on June 1, was expected to bring 17 tropical storms, of which nine will strengthen into hurricanes with winds of at least 74 miles per hour.

Four of those are expected to become more destructive "intense" hurricanes, TSR said.

The long-term average for the Atlantic is for 10 storms to form during the hurricane season and for six of those to reach hurricane strength.

The United States emerged unscathed from the 2006 season after it spawned a below-average nine storms, of which five became hurricanes. Experts had universally and erroneously predicted 2006 would be a busy year for Atlantic storms.

None of the hurricanes hit the United States, bringing welcome relief to beleaguered residents of the U.S. Gulf Coast, where Katrina killed 1,500 people, swamped New Orleans and caused about $80 billion in damage the year before.

But TSR said current and projected climate signals indicate that Atlantic basin and U.S. landfalling hurricane activity will be 75 percent above the 1950-2006 average in 2007.

TSR had predicted in December that Atlantic basin and U.S. landfalling hurricane activity would be just 60 percent above average this year. It raised the projected activity level because of the sudden dissipation in February of last year's El Nino weather phenomenon.

An unusual warming of the eastern Pacific waters, El Nino events tend to suppress Atlantic storm activity.

Other experts, including hurricane forecast pioneer Dr. William Gray and his team at Colorado State University, have also warned that the 2007 hurricane season is likely to be busier-than-average.

The relative calm of last year's hurricane season, which forecasters had mistakenly predicted would be busy, came on the heels of a record 28 storms and 15 hurricanes in 2005 and only a slightly less furious season in 2004.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.
140. Inyo
none of the long range forecasts of the last year have been at all accurate? I don't believe any of the new ones either. they 'might' be right, but its just a roll of the dice. I'd imagine there will probably be more hurricanes than 'average' becuase of the peak in the atlantic cycle, and possible global warming effects. but its far from a guarantee
Aynone that "knows" the United States knows that the US will do the absolute minimal job for the most amount of money. Most government employees have no incentive to do anything more than the least amount of work because they know they will be taken care of as long as they're an employee of the US and usually can't be fired. Anyone (everyone) who has stood in line for a drivers license, food stamps, post office, etc., shouldn't be surprised the levees failed. What normal citizen has access to the levee's blueprints to even question the quality of the work done? US citizens are decades behind of how the government thinks and when you put complete faith into the US, you will eventually lose (everything). Have some common sense. New Orleans residents are rebuilding a city that's basically a bowl floating in water. The government failed you, but you're going to rebuild anyway. If I live long enough, I don't want to hear any complaints and sob stories about how New Orleans flooded again. I'm a human being and had some sympathy the first time, but I'll have none the second time. I actually thought, "well, a lot of those people along the coast were poor and couldn't get away." Now some of those people are moving back and taxpayers are going to pay for their unwavering stubbornness.
if your talking about the low its actually west of pr alittle south of hispaniola
What is the weather pattern over Florida? Fire season has been minimal, Does El Nino or La Nina effect this at all?
sporteguy03...DRY! Thats how the weather patterns been down here in south FL. Central and North FL had a couple strong fronts roll by or just sit right on them letting them get all the rain (Not all good, they had a few tornados). Down here in S FL we had a handful of real 'cold' fronts, none of which were very wet. Even early in the season when we had a few torndos down here the line of storms didn rain a whole lot.
Inyo, global warming has nothing to do with frequency of storms. It may help in intensity, but if you look at climatology, you will see that we are in a period very similar to the 1940's where South Florida was hit almost every year and in 1947 was hit twice, one a cat 1 and one a cat 3.
I laugh at those who complain about a "drought" in South Florida and scream for the need for water restrictions. News Flash: every year there is a "dry season" and every year at this time of the year we have very little rain and every year the big lake drops. So what has changed? Greedy developers who continue to build and build and build, that's what. More people means more water usage and yet the stupid county planners wonder why the lake is getting lower each year. Duh!!!! These people need to stop whoring South Florida out to the parasitic developers who have no responsibility for the damage they cause and the water problems they inflict on those already living here.
Greedy developers aside , also blame the South Florida Water Management District , which dropped the lake level in anticipation of Ernesto's rains , which never materialized. The are afraid the dike around the "Big O" wont hold .
They , rather .
i agree i am in charlotte county and we have not been any drier then normal grass looks terrible sand coming on the tile normal dry season
I live in Clearwater and we are at the start gator breeding season. So i guess it will be a surprise when people start seeing more gators too
Just the normal dry season. The problem is, we're in a hole because last summer was also dry. We didn't get as many of the normal afternoon thunderstorms as usual. Also no tropical waves etc. to replenish the ground water.
bluehaze...nobody realizes the environmental impact of big business. After all, big business is what most of us aspire to.
parasitic developers who have no responsibility for the damage they cause and the water problems they inflict on those already living here.

yep..LOL...damn those developers.....i mean..they stole the land....they snuck in at night and took the building permits...they broke the fingers of city and state politicians so they couldn't enact laws restricting growth...and then those pesky we got here now no more growth who often forget that many of the bonds sold to bring them the city and county amenities they enjoy...repayment plans were based on the future growth we're now seeing...yep.....needs to be controls....limits...repsonsible planning..but you can't just single out the developer..other than that...LOL...i couldn't agree more
NOAA indicates Neutral conditions for now but La Nina is likely to take over in the next 3 months...Lets hope the steering pattern is in our favor this season.Adrian

More Here
Posted By: weatherskink at 3:54 PM GMT on March 27, 2007.

Greedy developers aside , also blame the South Florida Water Management District , which dropped the lake level in anticipation of Ernesto's rains , which never materialized. They are afraid the dike around the "Big O" wont hold .

It is a good thing Ernesto did not become the cat 2 or 3 they we thinking. There possibly would have been catastrophic damage to the homes and water supply. Ernesto went directly over the lake as well as Frances, Jeanne and Wilma passing close by. How many more warnings do you need?
Those cuban mountians saved south florida from a major hurricane with ernesto.
Lake Okeechobee came second in a list of 'top ten' US danger areas compiled by the International Hurricane Research Center. Known locally as 'The Lake', it is the fourth largest lake in the United States, covering approximately 730 square miles and is particularly relevant to scientific research because it has a long history of hurricane activity. In 1926, the Great Miami Hurricane killed around 300 people while the 1928 hurricane is the second most deadly natural disaster recorded in the United States. Mainly due to the flooding of Lake Okeechobee, 2,500 were killed.

The potential for catastrophe in this region may not be fully accounted for by the insurance industry in either the capital modelling or pricing of potentially affected policies. In fact, Maynard suggests that many scientists believe that there is even more chance of a major hurricane going over Lake Okeechobee than before because of the effects of natural cycles and climate change.

Full Story Here!
We have been saved 2 times now 23! Wilma getting stuck on the Yucatan and Ernesto with Cuba! I remember a couple days before Wilma hit, they had it making the channel and then up to Florida, missing the Yucatan,that would have been scary!
TALLAHASSEE, Fla., May 3 (UPI) -- Florida's governor is urging major work be done on the levee surrounding Lake Okeechobee after a report warned of a possible catastrophe.

Gov. Jeb Bush called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spend the weeks heading into the hurricane season to repair and revamp the levee, the Miami Herald reports.

But Corps engineers said the report was a mix of worst-case scenarios that didn't reveal anything new.
The Corps maintains the lake is far below acceptable water levels and isn't unsafe barring extreme weather scenarios.

The report, which Bush authorized, warns a break in the levee could release Okeechobee's waters onto entire south Florida, causing drinking water contamination and destroying parts of the Everglades along with possible injury or death.

This was an article posed on May 3, 2006 in the Miami Herald! Again they were warned ahead of time.
Indeed pulse south florida has been lucky basically since 1992 with andrew.I truly believe its only a matter of time before we get a big one.Now with Nina looking likely this season the big question will be what will the steering pattern be?We'll find out in the next 2-3 months.Adrian
Florida indeed has experienced a couple of active landfalling seasons in 2004-2005 but its nothing compared to how bad times can get like for example the time period from 1941-1950 south florida was hit time after time from all directions,point being i think we have been fairly lucky since 1992 with andrew.Now the question is what will the steering pattern look like?We'll find out in the next 2-3 months.Adrian

what the hey is going on her did it evere made land fall? or did it this die out in sea fast? or did it run in to high wind shear this be for land fall?


when i look at it last night it was a powerfull cat 3 or 4 now it like gone whats going on her?
I know bunches of folks love NO. I just have too add my 21/2 cents.(adjusted for inflation)
Being in Pensacola, Fl I take issue with throwing good money after bad developing and redeveloping along the coast period, but the concept of investing in a community below sea level absolutely boggles my mind.
It isn't like over the next 100 years that sea level is going to drop. To the contrary we should be planning around the opposite happening over the long term.
We have the problems in LA and south Florida because we decided to work against nature. Investing in NO is just doing the same thing in a new way.
I agree FL! Let's see if the Army Corp actually heeds the warning this time. If not, you see it was warned last year.
Never liked this manner of taking seals, but a worse fate seems to have befallen the seal population.

I just got the heavyest rain of the season just a moment ago. I got a good thunderstorm with a lot of wind and some lightning. Whittier, CA.
170. Inyo
Posted By: bluehaze27 at 3:25 PM GMT on March 27, 2007.
Inyo, global warming has nothing to do with frequency of storms

you can't prove that any more than we can prove it is. we just don't know.

Lightning10, ive been watching the storms, so far at my location weve had just a nice gust fromt (but unfortunately without rain) but the mountains behind Ventura have been getting good rain and snow.
Posted By: HIEXPRESS at 9:16 PM GMT on March 27, 2007.

Yahoo Story:
Strong hurricanes to hit U.S. Gulf in 07: AccuWeather
Such a revelation!

im hoping this was sarcastic!
No it wasn't. I was doing some digging and historically they look at the forecasting based from what the ENSO is doing. Looking neutral right now with a tendency to become more La Nino.
For the Atlantic Basin the neutral ENSO or too stronger La Nino the higher risk for Hurricane Activity.
For us it usually comes down to where High Pressure sets up in the Atlantic and/or over Mexico.

I'm curious how La Nino will affect the SAL.
Yahoo Story:
Strong hurricanes to hit U.S. Gulf in 07: AccuWeather
Such a revelation!

im hoping this was sarcastic!

Who me? No. Never. Really.
P.S. In the short term, they are predicting darkness tonight followed by widely scattered light in the morning.
177. 882MB
Hey everybody,Look what Joe Bastardi had to say in ACCUWEATHER.COM:AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center Chief Forecaster Joe Bastardi warns that the US Gulf Coast, which avoided the wrath of major storms and hurricanes in 2006, is at much higher risk of destructive tropical weather this year. This could have significant implications for the areas recovering from the devastation wrought by the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 - which included Katrina - as well as for energy prices, because of the significant energy production that occurs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bastardi, who in March of last year correctly forecasted that the region would get "minimal" attention by that season's hurricanes, said that this year, "the Gulf and Florida face a renewed threat, and we will see more powerful storms across the board. We will not get anywhere near the amount of storms that we did in 2005, but it is the intensity of the storms we do get that will be of major concern." Asked about the diminished number of tropical cyclones compared to 2005, AccuWeather.com Director of Forecast Operations Ken Reeves said, "Keep in mind that in 1992, a year with very few storms, we saw one of the most destructive in recorded history - Hurricane Andrew. This year is shaping up to be one that features some potentially very powerful storms, so whether or not the quantity is there, the danger certainly is."Bastardi instead points to the pattern of Atlantic Ocean water temperatures as a leading factor in determining the power of a hurricane season, as well as the overall cyclical trend of more extreme weather across the US. Specifically, he points to the recent hot, dry summers in the West and Plains as a precursor to increased Atlantic Basin hurricane intensity, one of the patterns identified by his comparative research of previous seasons.

Kinda hard to have a LOWER risk than last year. The area had almost no tropical activity.
It also seems to me that the strong storms have continued to occur. It's just the basin that has changed. I do know recent records have not shown as many strong systems in the SW Indian Oceans as have been seen so far this season.

Any day now,lol
No worries of Hurricanes here. However did have some very bad winds durning a thundrestorm today. Saw some lightning and thunder few hail stones into the mix.

Here is a pic of the aftermath today...

182. Inyo
Specifically, he points to the recent hot, dry summers in the West and Plains as a precursor to increased Atlantic Basin hurricane intensity

That's kind of funny since in southern California and much of the Southwest, 2004-2005 was the wettest rainfall year in recent memory.

lightning10, a second gust front came through after my last post with winds that appeared to be near 50 mph. One tree was damaged and the power went out an hour or two later from more wind. However, we got very little rain. The mountains got some snow, at least.
sigh...crapuweather...LOL...the same people/person(bastardi) who said last season that 'The NE is staring down the barrel of a gun'.
Summary: Pacific cooling slows, conditions currently neutral

Central to eastern Pacific sea-surface temperatures have remained close to average during March, following the rapid cooling that took place during January and February at the end of the 2006/07 El Nio event. The SOI, Trade Winds and Pacific cloud patterns are other ENSO indicators which are currently in a neutral phase. There appears to be little chance of a return to El Nio conditions in 2007, with a continuation of neutral, or a switch to La Nia conditions, the more likely outcomes.
A La Nia in 2007?
The chance of a La Nia developing in 2007 is thought to be higher than the long-term average (which is about one in five or 20%) because (a) they have a tendency to follow an El Nio; (b) the 2006/07 El Nio decayed somewhat earlier than normal thereby giving time for a La Nia to begin developing during the critical March to June period; and (c) a large pool of cold sub-surface water remains in the central to eastern tropical Pacific Ocean and is starting to affect surface temperatures in the region. La Nia events are generally associated with wetter than normal conditions across much of the eastern half of the country from about autumn.

More Here
I'm all rapped up in reading Storm Warning. The book Dr Masters reviewed last week about the May 3rd, 1999 tornado outbreak. As luck had it, it could be found at the local libary. With a 3 week check out time...demand must not be too high. Great book, about 2/3rds way through. Certainly answered my question of why the weather bueru wouldn't say tornado. Not suprising much of it had to do with corporations & economics. As much as I've been against commercial weather lately, reading the history of the NWS made me reflect to a time when super dupper doppler 9000 was the bomb. I understand why that was now & how it spurred a compition between news stations & nws forcing the upgraded goodies we now enjoy. It took this to get the polititions to release a little funds that would save many, the corperations also realized how being informed could save & make money as well. I was also suprised by the amount of military rapped up in the weather. Down to our surface maps...cold fronts~ pointed german helmets..warm fronts~rounded british helmets.

Thanks for the book recommendation Jeff:)
I honestly, for the life of me, cannot understand why "anybody" would live below sea level with the threats of hurricanes.

As the head of my family, I would find myself "irresponsible" if I allowed my family to live in such a high risk area.

If you are foolish enough to live below sea level, don't ask me to bail you out when the angry sea's flood your city.

My comments are not politically motivated, but merely based on "common sense". Would these same people who live in harm's way below sea level, would they let their family live on an active volcano? Or on a major earthquake fault line?? Sure, you can do it, but you also need to take responsibility for your choice.

I agree "this time" to bail out New Orleans..... But the next time the City gets flooded, I say leave it flooded.......And it most certainly will happen again! Heck Katrina was not even a direct hit, but merely a glancing blow. Wait until a direct hit with a cat4 or cat5! It will make Katrina look wimpy!

Sorry if I seem insensitive, but I feel it had to be said!
I agree.
.LOL...damn those developers.....i mean..they stole the land....they snuck in at night and took the building permits...they broke the fingers of city and state politicians so they couldn't enact laws restricting growth...and then those pesky we got here now no more growth who often forget that many of the bonds sold to bring them the city and county amenities they enjoy...repayment plans were based on the future growth we're now seeing...yep.....needs to be controls....limits...repsonsible planning..but you can't just single out the developer..other than that...LOL...i couldn't agree more.

ricderr, It is specious logic to suggest that I can't state reality and think that development ought to be contolled better than it has been in the 34 years I've lived here or that just because I came here I now have to let everyone else in to ruin my piece of paradise. As the saying goes, when the house is full close the door. I won't let an apologist make me feel guilty about protecting what was promised us by other developers 34 years ago--paradise.

Yes, local government is also to blame and so is the water management distict. People and problems come from everywhere to here and not just downI-75 and I-95 (ie unfettered immigration). There is only so much the environment can take.

The developers have had there way in South Florida for too long. The planners of South Florida did nothing to ensure that the infrastructure would keep up. They never required developers to pay a mitigation tax that couldn't be passed on to the consumer. They never had to pay for the roads or the schools or the water treatment sites or the plethora of other needs their development heaps on the area. You can be the developer's apologist but I think they take at least a 40% blame with the county and state governments taking 30% each. If we don't build it, they won't come and I say fantastic. Stay home.
does anyone know what that purple box is on that chart from Fl30258713??
I was born and raised in NOLA, but completely understand what you're saying. My parents weren't NOLA natives, so maybe that's the reason I can look at your comments objectively...because I knew it wasn't "normal" to live below sea level. That being said, there are so many things about the city that give people a reason to stay, even if they do realize it's not a "normal" place to habitate. People live all along the coastlines of hurricane prone areas, and indeed millions and millions of people do live on fault lines. Sometimes people are willing to take a risk to live in an area they love. That being said, as long as they take the responsibility to get their families out of harms way when danger lurks, I have no problem with them. A tornado outbreak could rip through Dallas, OK City, St. Louis, and other major cities on the same day, and you can bet the feds would be called in to help. Obviously, it's more likely that a hurricane will hit NOLA again, but there is truly no place completely "safe" place to live. While living in NOLA, I experienced several floods from big rain events. BUT, when I watch the weather and hear of the flooding in certain areas after 2-4 inches of rain, and compare that to NOLA, I say NOLA has it's act together with it's pumping system. The last flood I experienced there was in May of 1995. From about 7pm-12 midnight, we recieved 18"+ of rain. Of course it flooded! There were times there when we recieved 6-8 inches in a few hours, and we didn't flood. That's why I give the pumping system in NOLA props.
All this said, I moved shortly after I got married, about 90 miles north of NOLA. I can still enjoy the things I love dearly about the place, (the fishing, and the food mainly), but I don't ever have to worry about it flooding at my house, from a freaky t-storm, or a soaker of a tropical system. If it ever floods at my house, I hope somebody has that ark ready. Just try to understand that to NOLA natives, there is no other place to live, especially if their families roots are tied to that city. I understand your point, but totally understand theirs, too. Even though I was born and raised there, my roots weren't deep there, so it was easy for my to take them up and move. But I personally know several people that are still displaced from there, and their hearts are heavy, because they just want to go...home.
Posted By: keywestdingding at 4:55 PM GMT on March 28, 2007.

does anyone know what that purple box is on that chart from Fl30258713??

Probability of tropical cyclone formation within 24 hours.
193. Inyo
I agree that the government shouldnt bail people out of stupid places to live, ie malibu, etc. However, new orleans is a little different because there are some extremely poor people there who just can't afford to up and leave.
Inyo, that's a whole other can of worms, there. They're living in free public housing, or were before the storm. There's nothing but work opportunities down there right now. You're wrong saying they can't afford to leave. They have left in droves. They now occupy free govt housing in Houston, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, and other places. They won't come back unless their free housing is rebuilt. That is a fact. It's also one of the main reasons I no longer live there. They won't work, but they'll steal and kill to make ends meet. If they would come back and work to help rebuild, I would think differently. But those people aren't coming back to work.

Let me say this...NOLA has a terrible national image...and it's not fair to the great people who still live there, and are working their butts off trying to survive and rebuild the place. It's a great place with great people, but a few bad apples spoil the bunch sometimes.
It's easy to suggest that living in New Orleans is untenable. But what are the practical considerations? When you count neighboring Jefferson Parish, over 600,000 people still live there below sea level. Are they supposed to pick up and move to higher ground? What happens to their property? Is someone else supposed to buy the future swampland? You're talking about people's lifetime investments.

Most of the people I know in New Orleans don't believe that massive flooding will happen again. The city has been around since 1718 and survived multiple floods. If the floodgates that the Corps has now built on the outfall canals had been there before Katrina, large portions of the western side of the city would probably not have flooded. In that respect the city is safer today.

New Orleans location is far from ideal, but it's built where it is because of the proximity of its location to the very bodies of water that endanger it. The same could be said of any seaport. A study in the journal Environment and Urbanization, released Wednesday, says that more than two-thirds of the world's large cities are in areas vulnerable to flooding. In all 634 million people live in coastal areas defined as less than 33 feet above sea level. Another study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a draft copy expected to be released next week that Los Angeles and New York City are at risk from a combination of sea level rise and violent storms by 2080. Miami, Boston, and Washington, DC, could also be at risk. Not to mention major cities around the world such as Shanghai and Jakarta.

If you can't easily move all those people away from the coast, perhaps the defensive solution New Orleans has arrived at over time might be a template for other such threatened cities. In 1953, the Netherlands faced disaster when the dikes protecting the country were breached by the joint onslaught of a hurricane-force wind and exceptionally high spring tides. That year, the Dutch came to New Orleans to study its flood prevention methods. The Dutch returned home and improved on those methods. After Katrina, Louisiana engineers and politicians went to the Netherlands to study their system for ideas.

In some ways, New Orleans and the Netherlands are better off because they have lived with disaster and survived. As the minister in charge of the Dutch flood program said: "You cannot fight water, you have to learn how to live with it."

In New Orleans, we're not talking about beachfront property for recreation. New Orleans is a city of residences and businesses. Most of its residents have lived there all their lives and, until now, without major problem.

So, who should pay for New Orleans' problems? If you think that the Port of New Orleans is important to the nation's commerce and that New Orleans is historically valuable and a national cultural resource, then you may feel the entire country has a vested interest in preserving it. Regardless, Louisiana has finally gotten a share of the oil revenues passing through the state and will eventually be able to use that money to pay for its own flood improvements. This is only fitting because the oil industry has been responsible in part for destroying the wetlands that could have protected the city from Katrina.
TC Becky has 1 min sustained winds of 70 knots now with gusts of 85 knots.
Making it a Cat 3 on the Australian Scale
Did Dust Bust the 2006 Hurricane Season Forecasts?

A recent NASA study suggests that tiny dust particles may have foiled forecasts that the 2006 hurricane season would be another active one.

In June and July 2006, there were several significant dust storms over the Sahara Desert in Africa. As this dust traveled westward into the Atlantic, satellite data show that the particles blocked sunlight from reaching the ocean surface, causing ocean waters to cool. These cooler waters may have impeded some storminess since hurricanes rely on warm waters to form.

The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season wrapped up on Nov. 30 with just four tropical storms and five hurricanes, relatively calm compared to the record number of 12 tropical storms and 15 hurricanes in 2005.

While several factors likely contributed to the sharp decrease in the number of storms, "this research is the first to show that dust does have a major effect on seasonal hurricane activity," said lead author William Lau, chief of the Laboratory for Atmospheres at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "Dust concentrations may play as big a role as other atmospheric conditions, like El Nio, and offer some predictive value, so they should be closely monitored to improve hurricane forecasts."

Other researchers, however, say that atmospheric dust may have had relatively little influence on the 2006 hurricane season compared to the effects of underlying El Nio conditions.

Sea surface temperatures in 2006 across the prime hurricane-breeding regions of the Atlantic and Caribbean were found to be as much as 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than in 2005. Most striking was how quickly sea surface temperatures responded to variations in the amount of Saharan dust, Lau said. Following the most significant dust outbreak, which occurred in June and July, ocean waters cooled abruptly in just two weeks, suggesting that the dust had an almost immediate effect.

The dust worked to cool the ocean, but it also warmed the atmosphere by absorbing more of the sun's energy. This temperature difference resulted in a shift in the large-scale atmospheric circulation. As air rose over West Africa and the tropical Atlantic, it sank and became less moist over the western Atlantic and Caribbean. This pattern helped to increase surface winds that enhanced ocean evaporation and churned deeper, colder waters, causing the area of cool seas to expand.

Lau and co-author Kyu-Myong Kim of Goddard analyzed data on ocean temperatures, clouds, and water vapor from NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite and atmospheric dust levels from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA's Aura satellite. The study was published in the Feb. 27 issue of the American Geophysical Union's Eos.

The research also considered the role of El Nio by examining historical data on the intensity and development of tropical storms and hurricanes across the Atlantic basin. "We found that Saharan dust may have a stronger influence than El Nio on hurricane formation in the subtropical western Atlantic and Caribbean, but that El Nio has a greater impact in the tropical eastern Atlantic, where many storms are generated," said Lau.

El Nio is the periodic warming of the ocean waters in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, which in turn can influence pressure and wind patterns across the tropical Atlantic.

"In 2006, it is quite possible that the Saharan dust may have amplified or even initiated pre-existing atmosphere-ocean conditions due to El Nio," said Lau. But other researchers say that while the amount of atmospheric dust in 2006 was greater than in 2005, the increase may have been too insignificant to be influential on the season. Instead, they believe the atmospheric effects from the underlying El Nio pattern in 2006 likely played a greater role.

Scott Braun, a hurricane specialist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said that in 2006, El Nio brought about broad changes to atmospheric conditions that likely had at least some influence on hurricane formation across much of the Atlantic.

Braun noted that during most of the hurricane season a large area of high pressure was located across the eastern Atlantic. This steered disturbances away from the warmest waters, so that they were less able to mature into tropical storms and hurricanes. At the same time, sinking motion an atmospheric air mass that has cooled and is falling combined with enhanced winds in the middle and upper atmosphere to minimize development in the Caribbean and western Atlantic and keep storms away from the U.S. These strong upper-level winds would contribute to a drastic change of winds with height, known as "shear" that can rip storms apart.

"This large-scale pattern has been associated with the effects of El Nio, suggesting it may have played a role in the seasonal activity," said Braun. "In fact, the last time the Atlantic produced so few storms was in 1997, when an El Nio pattern was also in place."

Braun and another hurricane researcher, Bowen Shen at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, agree that factors other than increased atmospheric dust may have contributed to cooler ocean waters in 2006.

"It is arguable that stronger surface winds over the tropical Atlantic may have cooled sea surface temperatures," said Shen. These winds likely helped to keep waters cooler by mixing the upper layers of the ocean and sweeping warmer waters westward. And although the waters were certainly cooler in 2006 than in 2005, they were still at or slightly above normal, suggesting other conditions helped to shape the season.

Current and future research efforts that examine how the ocean responds to surface winds and dust should help clarify their role in hurricane development. Although seasonal atmospheric patterns may increase the amount of dust across the Atlantic, the same atmospheric patterns may also be responsible for creating stronger winds at the ocean surface. By modeling the oceans, winds, and dust, researchers will generate a clearer picture of how these conditions vary from season to season.

"Although we continue to make significant strides in forecasting hurricanes and understanding their development, it is important to remember that the atmosphere is a chaotic system and numerous meteorological variables influence individual storms and activity throughout the season. NASA's constellation of several Earth-observing satellites, including Aura, is designed to provide coordinated measurements of these many variables for future research," said Lau.

Mike Bettwy-More here

LouisC, great post. I was happy to hear about the oil revenue. Long overdue. You're correct about the damage done by the many pipeline canals carved all through the marsh to benefit the oil companies. Also, the Army Corps is greatly responsible for the flooding that took place in NOLA, not because of just the poor levee construction, but the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.(MRGO) The MRGO was the biggest waste of money! Fewer than 700 ships per YEAR use this "shortcut", but the damage it has caused to the entire surrounding area is immeasurable. Where beautiful cypress swamp once stood, there is now only open water. The land, and the protection it offered are gone, victims of saltwater intrusion, right up the MRGO. Then when a storm passes through to the east, like Katrina did, the surged is amplified, funneled through the MRGO, and the results, obviously, are catastrophic. For years and years, as long as I can remember, people who lived in areas made vulnerable by the MRGO have SCREAMED for the thing to be shut down and filled in. It all fell on deaf ears, until now. Discussions are now taking place to at least block it off at the Gulf. These people are people who lived there before the stupid thing was built, so don't tell them they're stupid to live there.
There is plenty of blame to go around...it cannot all be placed on the feds, or all on the state, or all on the city.
The Sunken City
by John McPhee September 12, 2005

The Control of Nature: Atchafalaya;
McPhee, John;
New Orleans, Louisiana;
Water (Floods);
Fairless, Bob;
Mark Twain

(From The Control of Nature: Atchafalaya, which ran in the issue of February 23, 1987.)

New Orleans, surrounded by levees, is emplaced between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi like a broad shallow bowl. Nowhere is New Orleans higher than the rivers natural bank. Underprivileged people live in the lower elevations, and always have. The richby the riveroccupy the highest ground. In New Orleans, income and elevation can be correlated on a literally sliding scale: the Garden District on the highest level, Stanley Kowalski in the swamp. The Garden District and its environs are locally known as uptown.

Torrential rains fall on New Orleansenough to cause flash floods inside the municipal walls. The water has nowhere to go. Left on its own, it would form a lake, rising inexorably from one level of the economy to the next. So it has to be pumped out. Every drop of rain that falls on New Orleans evaporates or is pumped out. Its removal lowers the water table and accelerates the citys subsidence. Where marshes have been drained to create tracts for new housing, ground will shrink, too. People buy landfill to keep up with the Joneses. In the words of Bob Fairless, of the New Orleans District engineers, Its almost an annual spring ritual to get a load of dirt and fill in the low spots on your lawn. A child jumping up and down on such a lawn can cause the earth to move under another child, on the far side of the lawn.

Many houses are built on slabs that firmly rest on pilings. As the turf around a house gradually subsides, the slab seems to rise. Where the driveway was once flush with the floor of the carport, a bump appears. The front walk sags like a hammock. The sidewalk sags. The bump up to the carport, growing, becomes high enough to knock the front wheels out of alignment. Sakrete appears, like putty beside a windowpane, to ease the bump. The property sinks another foot. The house stays where it is, on its slab and pilings. A ramp is built to get the car into the carport. The ramp rises three feet. But the yard, before long, has subsided four. The carport becomes a porch, with hanging plants and steep wooden steps. A carport that is not firmly anchored may dangle from the side of a house like a third of a drop-leaf table. Under the house, daylight appears. You can see under the slab and out the other side. More landfill or more concrete is packed around the edges to hide the ugly scene. A gas main, broken by the settling earth, leaks below the slab. The sealed cavity fills with gas. The house blows sky high.

The people cannot have wells, and so they take rain-water, Mark Twain observed in the eighteen-eighties. Neither can they conveniently have cellars or graves, the town being built upon made ground; so they do without both, and few of the living complain, and none of the others. The others may not complain, but they sometimes leave. New Orleans is not a place for interment. In all its major cemeteries, the clients lie aboveground. In the intramural flash floods, coffins go out of their crypts and take off down the street.

The water in New Orleans natural aquifer is modest in amount and even less appealing than the water in the river. The city consumes the effluent of nearly half of America, and, more immediately, of the American Ruhr. None of these matters withstanding, in 1984 New Orleans took first place in the annual Drinking Water Taste Test Challenge of the American Water Works Association.

The river goes through New Orleans like an elevated highway. Jackson Square, in the French Quarter, is on high ground with respect to the rest of New Orleans, but even from the benches of Jackson Square one looks up across the levee at the hulls of passing ships. Their keels are higher than the AstroTurf in the Superdome, and if somehow the ships could turn and move at river level into the city and into the stadium they would hover above the playing field like blimps.

In the early nineteen-eighties, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a new large district headquarters in New Orleans. It is a tetragon, several stories high, and it is right beside the river. Its foundation was dug in the mainline levee. That, to a fare-thee-well, is putting your money where your mouth is.

Among the five hundred miles of levee deficiencies now calling for attention along the Mississippi River, the most serious happen to be in New Orleans. Among other factors, the freeboardthe amount of levee that reaches above flood levelshas to be higher in New Orleans to combat the waves of ships. Elsewhere, the deficiencies are averaging between one and two feet with respect to the computed high-water flow line, which goes on rising as runoffs continue to speed up and waters are increasingly confined. Not only is the water higher. The levees tend to sink as well. They press down on the mucks beneath them and squirt materials out to the sides. Their crowns have to be built up. You put five feet on and three feet sink, a Corps engineer remarked to me one day. This is especially true of the levees that frame the Atchafalaya swamp, so the Corps has given up trying to fight the subsidence there with earth movers alone, and has built concrete floodwalls along the tops of the levees, causing the largest river swamp in North America to appear to be the worlds largest prison. It keeps in not only water, of course, but silt. Gradually, the swamp elevations are building up. The people of Acadiana say that the swamp would be the safest place in which to seek refuge in a major flood, because the swamp is higher than the land outside the levees.

As sediments slide down the continental slope and the river is prevented from building a proper lobeas the delta plain subsides and is not replenishederosion eats into the coastal marshes, and quantities of Louisiana steadily disappear. The net loss is over fifty square miles a year. In a hundred years, Louisiana as a whole has decreased by a million acres. Plaquemines Parish is coming to pieces like old rotted cloth. A hundred years hence, there will in all likelihood be no Plaquemines Parish, no Terrebonne Parish. Such losses are being accelerated by access canals to the sites of oil and gas wells. There are in Louisiana ten thousand miles of canals. In the nineteenfifties, after Louisiana had been made nervous by the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Corps of Engineers built the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a shipping canal that saves forty miles by traversing marsh country straight from New Orleans to the Gulf. The canal is known as Mr. Go, and shipping has largely ignored it. Mr. Go, having eroded laterally for twenty-five years, is as much as three times its original width. It has devastated twenty-four thousand acres of wetlands, replacing them with open water. A mile of marsh will reduce a coastal-storm-surge wave by about one inch. Where fifty miles of marsh are gone, fifty inches of additional water will inevitably surge. The Corps has been obliged to deal with this fact by completing the ring of levees around New Orleans, thus creating New Avignon, a walled medieval city accessed by an interstate that jumps over the walls.

The coast is sinking out of sight, Oliver Houck has said. Weve reversed Mother Nature. Hurricanes greatly advance the coastal erosion process, tearing up landscape made weak by the confinement of the river. The threat of destruction from the south is even greater than the threat from the north
i just recieved this in an e-mail.......i'm sure the good dr will speak about it at some point...i found it fascinating

Exploring Tornadoes (New!)
Tornado Paths via Google Maps and Google Earth
Just in time for the 2007 tornado season the AOSS department is offering a new website for exploring tornado paths. The paths of all tornadoes from 1950-2004 (so far) can be viewed at:

Like I said! Thanks Patrap!
202. Inyo
Posted By: jake436 at 6:13 PM GMT on March 28, 2007.
Inyo, that's a whole other can of worms, there. They're living in free public housing, or were before the storm. There's nothing but work opportunities down there right now. You're wrong saying they can't afford to leave. They have left in droves. They now occupy free govt housing in Houston, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, and other places. They won't come back unless their free housing is rebuilt. That is a fact. It's also one of the main reasons I no longer live there. They won't work, but they'll steal and kill to make ends meet. If they would come back and work to help rebuild, I would think differently. But those people aren't coming back to work.

i think we are both making generalizations about 'they' here. I don't think all poor people of new orleans are parasites living off of 'the man', but certainly some are... like you said, the bad apples. I guess what i was getting at was that the people who lived there didnt necessarily have the financial ability to leave years ago as it sank, nor did they have the knowledge to even know it was necessary. AKA.. i feel sorrier for them than for the rich people ion Malibu. Then again, you lived in New Orleans and I have lived in Malibu so maybe both of our perceptions are tweaked.

The city has been around since 1718 and survived multiple floods.

Well, it's about 30 feet lower now than it was then, right? (many feet lower, in any event).

LA itself is mostly pretty high up, except for the harbor. However, LA's water comes in part from the Sacramento River Delta, which is sinking just like NOLA. Without that water, we'll still be in trouble
Whether or not you believe the city of New Orleans should be rebuilt, weve all benefited from some of the items that led to its demise. Oil exploration has significantly altered the coastal wetlands with canals and pipelines. Any of us using petroleum products have received benefits from the reduced prices this petroleum source helped create. The flood control projects along the Mississippi River and its tributaries have greatly increased crop production in the fertile bottom lands and almost eliminated crop loss from flood damage. These areas represent a major portion of US agricultural production. Unfortunately theyve also eliminated the primary source of the silt which rebuilds the Mississippi Delta and replenishes the wetlands. Its estimated that an area the size of Manhattan is disappearing from these wetlands annually. Net loss to date is around one million acres. Not only did these wetlands help protect New Orleans from a storm surge, they also served as a nursery to a large portion of seafood consumed annually. Rebuilding New Orleans is just a portion of the work to be done in Louisiana.