Pat Shingleton: "The Look-Back"
I've extracted previous columns to incoporate events that occurred ten years ago. These excerpts were published in The Advocate's, "Pat's Weather News." "Experts at the Hurricane Center in Miami will target warm-water eddies on Katrina's approach Monday. These swirling pockets of water will strengthen the storm as it moves through super-hot water. The nightmare scenario of a hurricane is the storm surge, a giant bulge of water that is pushed toward land by the hurricane's swirling wind. As it comes ashore, the mound of water grows and floods the coastline. Over the years, forecasters have improved their capabilities at plotting the path of a storm but predicting its strength, just prior to landfall, is always a surprise. Most of the category four storms that pack winds of 131 to 155 mph, and all category five storms traditionally go through cycles of rapid intensification. Researchers at the Hurricane Research Lab at LSU believe the on-shore water depth could be a piece of the forecasting puzzle." "Many computer models don't distinguish the cause and mystery of a hurricane's intensification. Hurricane Katrina's engine is being fueled by a high-octane source - the hot waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The warmer the Gulf, the stronger Katrina gets. Over the weekend it has been solidifying its path by diverting dry air and seeking out moist pockets of the atmosphere. Researchers at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration are relying on the Gulf Loop Current, a main ingredient in storm strength and formation. The current delivers hot water from the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico. As the current swerves around it emits super-warm whirlpools called "eddies." As Katrina continues to pass over these warm eddies, the storm intensifies. In addition to computer models, storm predictors will utilize information around the storm including moisture fields and vertical wind sheer. All of this data is extrapolated to determine a truer path, the intensity of Katrina and projected damage before landfall." "After 48 hours of coverage of this devastating, catastrophic and unfortunate storm, some comments. In every hurricane conference that I have attended, the New Orleans scenario has been displayed. The worst-case scenario Monday morning played-out to the almost exact expectations of the Hurricane Center in Miami. Numerous storms have skirted and hit New Orleans. They include the October 10, 1837 Hurricane, the September 22, 1909 Hurricane, the October 2, 1915 Hurricane and the September 6, 1948 Hurricane. The named storms include Hilda in October of 1964, Betsy on September 12, 1965, Fern in September of 1971, Bob on July 12, 1979, Elena on September 2, 1965, Juan on October 29, 1985 and Florence on September 9,1988. Thanks to all who responded to our unprecedented coverage of Hurricane Katrina; in conjunction with WGNO in New Orleans and my friend Bruce Katz it was a unique perspective for New Orleaneans in Baton Rouge that were weathering the storm." "Dry air and hurricanes don't mix. Hot water, circulation and winds do. The Associate Press filed an article Tuesday concerning an injection of dry air that could have weakened this storm. We too, reported on WBRZ, Channel 2, prior to landfall as Katrina held its Category 5 status. The shallow northern Gulf shelf and a blast of Midwestern dry air bopped it down to a Category 4, slid the storm more east and avoided the direct hit. As the center of circulation crossed St. Bernard and Plaquemine Parishes and the eastern section of Lake Pontchartrain, the ingredients of three massive water components came together. Surprisingly, Katrina wasn't as strong as many hurricanes that hit the United States but the destruction was so massive because of its massive size." In 30 years of forecasting the weather and every tropical storm and hurricane in that time period this could become the worst tropical disaster ever. Each and every day, the story changes and will continue to be the story for months to come. The damage toll from Katrina will top every previous hurricane and will probably be the costliest storm in our history. Time magazine reports that basic home insurance wind damage from a hurricane provides a deductible between 1% and 5% of your home's value. In coastal areas prone to high wind exposure it will go even higher. Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, North and South Carolina have windstorm pools to fund policies at high risk for severe wind and hail. Standard home insurance policies don't cover flooding but the federal; government does through the National Flood Insurance Program. Twenty-five percent of flooding claims are in areas not designated at high risk for floods. Katrina will not only be the largest storm catastrophe but the nation's worst."
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