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TD 15? And, New Orleans NWS survives

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 10:46 PM GMT on September 01, 2005

The New Orleans NWS office, located in Slidell, LA, was knocked off-line Monday by Katrina as her northern eyewall hammered Slidell and a 15-foot storm surge crashed ashore. The building and radar survived the hurricane, and the staff continues to work there, although all communications remain down. The radar was damaged but is repairable, and a repair team is on the way to work on it. All but one of the employees are accounted for, and the missing employee is assumed to be in a shelter. Meteorologists generally have enough sense to leave evacuation zones, unless of course they are Weather Channel personalities or storm chasers. Most of the employees had their homes destroyed or damaged. A number of satellite phones have arrived at the office, and limited communications are now possible. The Mobile, Alabama NWS office is assuming responsibility for issuing forecasts and warnings for the New Orleans area until full communications can be restored.

Four weather radars in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida that were down due to communication infrastructure failures are now back up. Only the Lake Charles, LA radar and New Orleans radar remain down. Communications are still out to the Lake Charles, LA and Jackson, MS NWS offices, and their forecasts and warnings are being issued by other NWS offices until MCI can repair the communications infrastructure. The repair time needed is estimated to be one week.

Tropical update
The most significant threat in the tropics may be from a tropical wave that is spinning midway between Africa and the Leeward Islands, near 9N 36W. This system has gotten much better organized in just the past two hours, and will probably be classified as TD 15 by tomorrow. There is a moderate amount of deep convection near the center, but this is being disrupted some by wind shear. A large area of improving upper-level outflow on the north side and east sides exists, and Quikscat winds are already over 55 mph on the east side. The disturbance is far enough south that it will not get recurved out to sea by the mid-Atlantic trough. The early track models (below) show it moving west-northwest and threatening the Leeward Islands by Tuesday. Virtually all the the computer models forecast the shear over the system to lessen, and develop it into at least a tropical storm. The GFS continues to forecast that this will be a major hurricane. I believe that this will be at least a Category 1 hurricane by Tuesday, and might be trouble for the Leeward Islands.

Figure 1. Forecast track of tropical wave I expect to be TD 15 by Friday.

Development by the Bahamas
An area of concentrated clouds has developed northeast of the Bahamas, but the wind shear is too high here now for any tropical development to occur. However, the shear will decrease over the next few days so that by Sunday or Monday tropical depression could develop in the waters between the Bahamas and Bermuda. This is the same location that Katrina developed. This development would occur at the tail end of a cold front that is expected to push off of the East Coast. The latest GFS model run is showing two possible areas of formation, one near Bermuda, and one near the east coast of Florida. If a depression does form near the east coast of Florida, the likely track would be across Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico. If formation occurs closer to Bermuda, the likely track would be northeastward away from land. I think it is unlikey that two systems would form in the this region; the energy for storm formation will probably concentrate in one area and create one storm. Let's hope that if this occurs, the formation region will be closer to Bermuda and the storm will head out to sea.

Figure 1. GFS forecast for 2am Monday, showing two possible locations a tropical depression may form.

TD Lee and TD 14
Tropical Depression Lee and Tropical Depression 14 are of little concern at this point. Both are weak, sheared systems that are tracking out over open ocean, with little chance of impacting any land areas.

Blog comments
Please continue to post non-weather related comments to this blog for now. In a national emergency like this, it is important for us to communicate freely. Keep it positive! The best way to deal with this unbelievable horror is to be positive and supporting of one another. If you find yourself wanting to make a post that insults another blog poster, please refrain. Criticism of politicians is OK, but remember we elected them!

Jeff Masters

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

Reader Comments

just checked local radar, dumb little isolated thunderstorm on top of us...
Even knowing that the evac was going to start so late the resources should have been pulling together Friday to deliver known needed supplies in the aftermath. It has been one week since the storm hit and many had already been talking about the airdrops that were going to be needed to supply in the aftermath. This was the most planable natural disaster our nation will ever face. Can you imagine how we will respond to unplanned disasters?
Yep, cgable :)
We officially have not heard from the Berry Islands here in The Bahamas, as yet. I am sure it was not too badly damaged by Katrina, which was not fully cat1 when it passed over there; but I would feel better hearing from them "offically." There has been contact unoffically from locals there, I understand; but we need to hear about their damage from the proper reps :(
From the 11:30 discussion...

15 MPH.

Well easy come, easy go...lol...i was wondering why the GFDL disappated this system this morning, when yesterday it had it a major hurricane in 5 days...Our crazy year continues..lol..
I am soooo happy for you ear12603! It's so good to hear some good news. You have been in our prayers and I am so relieved to hear that they are OK.
E-VA, you're absolutely correct. However, there are folks that, given the opportunity, would have taken their kids and gotten out of Dodge but didn't have the gas money or a car or whatever... and then there are the dummies that didn't take it seriously. That's too true.
tropical update i will be back on in a bit after this

ts maria has formed from td 14. this storm apears to only be a threat to bermuda but willl be watched. only lisght stregthnen is expected

the low in the itcz has ahd a dramatic loss of convection overnight and is now less orginised. at this point development does not apear likely in the next 48 hrs. i will continue toi minitor the low as the enviromenty is increasingly getting better.

mybahamas - what do you do in a hurricane? What can you do? I mean it's not like you can just get in your car and drive a few hundred miles inland like we can...
myba, it's been a week!!! I don't blame you for worrying, they had a prolonged pass by Kat, even tho' low cat, was ALOT of rain and wind-driven. I sure hope you hear soon!!! Communication is slack, but this is ridiculous!
Here's a new wrinkle...at least I think it is as I haven't been on here much after Katrina came ashore.....If I was a terrorist and had been preparing an attack on US soil, this would be the time......From what I read and heard before Katrina it was a pretty good bet that those plans were in progress. Let's hope they're not so far progressed that they can move those plans forward and kick us while we're down.
Sorry lefty, feel asleep last night.
myba, w/out official they can't make any claims can they?
SJ - ::G:: you're allowed...
Be back in a bit
What I don't get, is why didn't they bring in Amtrack and freight trains and such where they could have loaded up thousands onto each train and moved them out to San Antonio or some other such place before the hurricane hit.
i wasn't even thinking about a dirty terrorist bomb-- i was recalling the cold war debates about limited nuclear exchanges, civil defense, fallout shelters, stuff like that. i suppose a cold war equivalent would have been some kind of decapitating strike at washington and maybe not no, but the eneryg producing areas to wipse out infrastructure--these are all nightmare discussions. i am amazed how cavalielry things like this were disucssed back then, however.

hisotrically what is going on in new orleans is similar to the breakdown in civil order after hurricane andrew. the difference is that the no and la authorities have had 13 years since then to ponder and figure out what to do.
elliston, they could have and probably their plans called for using amtrak or buses or similar assets. but it takes time to mobilize those resources, position them, and persuade the urban popualtion-- generally suspicious of a corrupt municipal government- that this time they were serious. had the mayor acted expeditiously even on saturday morning, a lot of these assets could have been positioned.

it is not a defense to say that on sat it was a much weaker storm because all the policy makers anticipated it would strengthen and threaten the gulf coast somewhere. a prudent course would have been to have mobilized the physical resources-- trains buses, whatever-- and then stood them down if the storm missed. if they had been in place it is possible that even as late as the evacuation order was issued, some thousands might have gotten out.
I was just thinking of how you would evacuate a city like New York, but in some ways it might be a bit easier. A huge portion of the population is used to taking public transport and the existing public transport infrastructure is so much bigger that with a few days notice and no need to panic (as in a bio attack) then you could just pour the people out of the city on all the trains.

The really scary thing would be a place like Los Angeles where the population is huge but everyone still seems to want to drive their own car and they don't have nearly the infrastructure that NY or DC or Atlanta have.
Don't mean to be a pest... but has any one heard from STROMTOP??

When you said

were you talking about what should have been TD15 or something else altogether?
What a terrible thing to say & indelicate way to say it. No Compassion... but I don't think you have a clue.
Weatherguy, I think that wave will develop but not immediately. I think once it gets in a really favorable area it will develop fast. Just like td 10 was before it became the worst natural diaster in US history. I'M NOT SAYING THAT THIS WAVE WILL BECOME ANOTHER KATRINA but the trend has been a wave organizes, weakens and then organizes again.
afternoon folks! Looks like its getting busy in the tropics. Funny how the computer models are shoving Maria N/W yet she is moving west. Im sure they will get updated at 2PM. Then the convection to the east of FL has me quite worried, since its too close to home for me.
My thinking on this wave is that it will start to really develope once it get nearer the islands
Stormydee....where are you at?
Looks to me like Maria is nowhere near the forcast points
528. tosca
From FEMA director:
"Unfortunately, that's going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings," Brown told CNN."I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," he said. He added that they must take the blame.

Is this man for real? That evacuation came too late for people of limited means (little money/poor health/tourist stranded at airport, etc.) to do anything about. He should know better than to make this kind of general statement. He knows he is in hot water and now he is trying to blame the victims.
sorry didn't respond sooner, at work in Titusville, FL.

exactly, and data from CNN this morning reinforced this point:

50,000 HOUSEHOLDS in Orleans parish with no vehicle (150K people?).
plus flights cancelled all day Sunday.
plus order came too late

i hope that people stop blaming the victims for being victims.
you heard the mayor of NO going OFF on the fed gov't this AM on the radio? He said he doesn't want anymore g.d. press conferences, he wants the troops there and then the president can give his speech from NO instead. I cried all day yesterday. At home sick, so I watched the news most of the day....lady was swinging her asleep/dead child in her arms screaming "I can't wake him up, I can't wake him up!!!" She was at the convention center, had been there a couple of days and NO ONE at that point had brought any food or water to the convention center, claiming the fed gov't didn't know about the people in the convention center until yesterday, even though the local officials had been telling them to go there instead of the superdome...then the guy who got arrested for stealing a car to get his family and neighbors out of N.O....dah, let him get out, the owner of the car can get reimbursed via insurance, and that would have been about 7-8 people less that they would have to evacute, nah, lets just make them get out the car, man goes to jail and the family is still hungry and stuck there...no wonder they are so angry there...can not blame them at all!!!
I can't see tv or live feeds, what's the latest in relief in general?
Dr. Masters has a new blog entry.
Not a problem stormy....I'm in Rockledge
hello stormtopx are you know here
WWL reporting 50,000 or more still trapped in city. Still little water and food getting in, many dying of dehydration. Some evacuations going on, Superdome crowd maybe down to 15-20 thousand. Convention Center in chaos; much gunfire and police won't fire because of fear of hitting unarmed victims.

FEMA's response has been a disaster, and the chief will say anything to deflect blame. Bush needs to fire him right now, bring the troops back from overseas, and send them to the Gulf for the months of work ahead.
Evacuating LA basin would be an absolute disaster depending on how far you need to go.

If you need to leave the basin - say a very large earthquake with damage even into Riverside/San Bernardino, then there are essentially only 5 routes out of the area - PCH/101 up the coast, I-5 north to Sac, I-15 northeast to Vegas, I-10 east to Phoenix, I-5 south past me to SD then east on I-8 to Yuma.

Only the coastal routes consistenly take you along civilization where you might find enough gas/supplies to sustain an evacuation for any period of time, but not nearly long enough. The 3 inland routes hit desert quickly and for 200 miles there are isolated gas/resources, but they can't sustain large numbers. You could drop a few hundred thousand off in Palm Springs, in Barstow, maybe half a million in Bakersfield, but these cities would quickly overwhelm and gas would run out I'd guess within a day. SD could take maybe 1 million, but we're talking roughly 15 million people here in LA/OC.

The only scenario I can imagine that would require such a major evacuation would be major earthquake along with santa ana winds, where ruptured gas lines start fires which are whipped by the winds and grow out of control due to lack of water pressure from ruptured mains. But even then, there'd the plenty of pockets of safety around the area for people to hunker down in.

Getting resources in wouldn't be easy except by sea/air. Much of CAs gas is refined in the LA area not far from the coast. Needless to say, it'd be a mess, but even worst case I can't imagine the scenes in NOLA repeating here - this is unreal.
Kudos on an excellent blog entry relative to the obvious shortcomings of our current two party system, Dr. Masters! I completely agree with your thoughts. My only addition to your suggestion of an IRV-based election system would be the requirement of mandatory competency testing for all prospective presidential candidates. Basic knowledge of geography, history, economics, constitutional law and ethics would be areas to assess. A good argument could also be made for assessing basic English skills as well.

If there is one good outcome of this terrible tragedy, maybe it is that it can serve to remind us all that it is never unpatriotic to question one's government--let alone demand that it be accountable to the people it should serve.