The storm track was great news for Florida, but the worst of all worlds for the Gulf Coast. While much of southern Florida was drenched with soaking rains and strong winds, the damage was minimal compared to what could have been.
The storm is now over the open water of the Gulf of Mexico and that's going to allow the storm to intensify. The tracks are putting it further and further to the west.
In fact, it appears that the track is shifting towards landfall in and around New Orleans. And it would come ashore as a very strong category 1 storm (max sustained winds of 90mph. They're anticipating strenghtening as it churns into the warm open waters of the Gulf.
Guess that New Orleans will see whether the Corps and the levee boards got their acts together and made sure that the levee system around NOLA will pass the test.
Forecasters are also predicting that the storm could drop up to 15 inches of rain locally. That's a tremendous amount of rain, and while the area inland is suffering from drought conditions, that kind of rain in a short time will mean flooding is expected and that runoff will not recharge aquifers and parched lands sufficient.
As with any storms along the Gulf Coast - the trick will be trying to figure out the storm surge. The storm surge is what did in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and much of the Gulf Coast shore communities from Biloxi to past New Orleans. This storm isn't likely to produce that kind of storm surge, but it's best to be prepared and have an action plan ready just in case local governments call for evacuations from low-lying or flood prone areas. Some localities have already called for evacuations near the Louisiana coast.
Several governors have already declared states of emergency, which allows them to better coordinate activities and emergency responses.
Labels: emergency preparedness, Gulf Coast, Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes, meteorology, natural disasters, New Orleans