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August 28, 2005


With all due respect for the posting rules:

Hijuela chinga.

I hope all this horrific stuff doesn't happen.
There is another aspect to this disaster: the animals.
For example, migration season is beginning. The migratory birds of the East are heading down to the Gulf Coast to tank up for the long non-stop flight across the Gulf. If they get there and the native vegetation is gone they will not get enough fuel for their passage and they will die at sea. Of course the birds there now are in trouble, too. They can avoid the storm by flying inland, but they will use up their fat, leaving them unable to make the corossing to south aerica later on.
I don't know if they are allowing people to bring their pets into the Dome for safety. I hope they are. Either way, in the aftermath of this storm there will be thousands of lost, injured, frightened domestic animals. Please consider giving a donation to an animal rescue organization. If you decide to send food, include some dog or cat food.
There is a lot of speculation about why some people are refusing to evacuate. In some cases people choose to stay because they have no way to evacute their companion animals. If they survive, they and their pets will need our help.

I meant "crossing to South America." Jeez.

New Orleans has all the makings of the biggest storm disaster in this country in the last few decades, if not the last century. This storm makes Ivan look like a minor squall. The damage a hurricane does is roughly proportional to the difference between its central pressure and standard pressure (1000 millibars); Ivan was 946 millibars, Andrew was 922 millibars; Katrina is, right now, 904 millibars. Camille was 909 millibars. I hope everyone has gotten the hell out of dodge.

I've been discussing going to assist with the cleanup and recovery afterward, with the wife. You never know what's going to happen until after it does, but this...there's no way it's going to change course, and even if it slows down a bit it'll still push water all over NO. There'll be trees on houses everywhere.

That bit about the levees, though, I don't know. IIRC in the French Quarter, at least, the levees are openable. If the levees do that much of a job trapping the water in, well, shaped charges can fix that right up.

If you do go, Slart, don't forget to pass the hat here.

Will do, rilkefan.

Just wondering, too, how much longer this (NO Webcam, at St. Charles and Napoleon) will be working.

I just keep waiting, hoping, for the message that it's weakened, or it's changing course...but no. This is very, very bad.

Go donate blood tomorrow, folks.

I just saw one woman interviewed who said, "well, we knew a hurricane was coming but we never thought it was this bad." If this lady has been watching the 24 hour cable news channels over the past few months, she probably saw the pictures on tv and thought, "oh yeah, well, another hurricane story."

Fortunately, I'm sure the locals depended on local news and those who needed the warning, got it. At least I hope so.


Chris Mooney has a post here that's worth reading. It's called 'Why Did No One Listen?'

I've been transfixed by the threads at Weather Underground. Metereologist Jeffrey Masters maintains a blog there frequented by some serious storm watchers.

Many sources have been projecting that not only will New Orleans be flooded, it will be a toxic soup, as the city is surrounded by heavy industrial plants. Make that a toxic soup swimming with snakes and alligators.

I won't even repeat the nightmare scenarios from the Wunderground threads; this is scary enough without them.

My prayers are with the folks going through this ordeal. Today I stumbled across a website at which supports the brave people facing Hurricane Katrina. Others have posted letters of support on the site as well.

I've been cruising Masters' blog too; it's fascinating, if disturbing, reading.

And isn't Chemical Alley just 50 miles north of NOLA or so?

Amazing tragedy. Thoughts and prayers are with all involved.

I found some great stuff on the oil/refinery/production aspect of this over at The Oil Drum. Maps and charts and stuff...apparently, this whole thing is going to have huge effects on the oil supply and gas prices...greeeat.

In fact, it is:

...the ExxonMobil facility is just one of more than 50 petrochemical plants and oil refineries in the Mississippi Delta region between Baton Rogue and New Orleans, referred to by industry as "Chemical Alley" and locals as "Cancer Alley."

Being from a mostly below the sealevel country with the according history I really feel for the people in the region.

Last time we had an emergency was in 1995. We had to evacuate over 250 000 people and lots of cattle, but fortunately the worst didn't happen and no one died. I hope New Orleans has the same luck.

Katrina's down to Category 4.

Anarch, I still had CNN on when it dipped 1 mph below Cat5 and they had "Breaking News!" at the bottom of the screen immediately. When they went to the official spokesperson guy at the Hurricane Center, he had to keep telling the anchors that it didn't really matter...the impact was still going to be catastrophic...the speed could change was still a monster. 3 minutes of this and the anchor asked, "so..with the storm weakening...?"

Thank you, CNN, for helping me turn storm coverage off for a couple of hours.

Opus, there were rumors on Wunderground that Katrina had actually dipped into Category 4 some hours earlier (there's been a significant lag time between the Vortex measurements and their reports) and that the NOAA or whoever had deliberately held off from making this public in case people thought this meant that Katrina had suddenly become less dangerous.

Also, via Wunderground, is the important note that that dry front that slashed into Katrina's western flank didn't penetrate the eye and therefore Katrina could easily ramp herself back up to Cat5 before landfall. [IIRC, the eye's actually enlarged and the minimum pressure's holding at a steady 908-910 mb.] Nonetheless, here's to hoping.

I can't get back into the wunderground site; it must be swarmed with readers by now. Teresa at Making Light has been gathering links in a couple of good posts.

Should really get to bed, as I can't prevent what going to happen.

I'm with you on that, Anarch. Thanks for the info. I'm unable to sleep, even though my friends have gotten out and there's nothing to do but wait.

Oh, I forgot to include my favorite Bad Anchor story from Katrina: some CNN bimbo-head is talking to the mayor of one of the towns on the Alabama-Florida border. The mayor's dry and matter-of-fact, laying out the evacuation plans and giving advice to people fleeing the Gulf Coast for the Florida panhandle. [Shorter version: don't.] At one point he gives some very good general advice, namely that people should be fleeing north at this point and not laterally.

Quoth the CNN bimbo, "Oh, it makes sense that they should flee inland" and prattles on.

You can practically hear the mayor spitting nails as he grits out "No, not inland. North."

"Well, it's all the same thing down there, isn't it?" she smirks, cutting off his protests.

Should anyone end up injured or killed because of her banal idiocy, well, the posting rules forbid me from saying what I hope befalls her and hers.

From livejournal: "This journal lists as friends New Orleans residents who are not evacuating the city in advance of Hurricane Katrina. If you are interested in reading the livejournals of people who are riding the storm out at Ground Zero, clicking on katrinacane's friends list is a convenient way to check on a bunch of them all at once."

While I was asleep, the storm turned east (yay) and this has caused everyone at CNN to say, "oh, ok, biggie. A little flooding for NOLA, a little property damage, great news!"

I get that the storm surges won't overwhelm the levees, but isn't the power still going to be out, and aren't the pumps -- which they use in regular weather -- going to be offline? Wont' whatever water they get be just sitting there?

I mean, yay for no chemical dump and no water-up-to-the-second-floor, but is the news really that good? Can we really celebrate?

And what about Biloxi?

Well, NO isn't exactly going to avoid everything, but the pumps can be powered by generators (after Charley, sewage lift stations (I know: great name for a band) were powered by generator here in O-town). The winds and rain will still be bad, and there won't be NO storm surge. Still, a stroke of luck having it turn east rather than west, as the damage and storm surge tends to be greater on the east side of the storm.

Biloxi may wind up seeing rather more of the storm than it expected, but probably not a LOT more.

One can only hope against the worst damage.

Slart's impulse to go help is high human goodness.

FOX just misspelled "Louisiana" in a graphic.
On the other hand, my best friend in 6th grade misspelled "misspell" during the school misspelling bee.

I don't watch much coverage of hurricane disasters, mainly because I don't care for the attempt they make to appeal to my worst and lowest human impulses, you know, to be vaguely disappointed afterwards when the storms veer off from the major population centers, thus avoiding the really horrific stuff. Instead of the advertised "toxic soup", we get a reporter shouting into his mic while his pantlegs flap. Probably Geraldo.

It's like when the rumor is advertised that your favorite T.V. character in your favorite show is going to be killed off. You tune in just to find out, peering through your fingers, if the killing off involves a woodchipper.

One wonders if Pat Robertson is praying for, or against, New Orleans. I don't think Hugo Chavez is in town this week, but "Girls Gone Wild" was filming there last week. Plus the French Quarter is, you know, French.

The new fiscal year for the Federal Government starts October 1. More budget cuts for NOAA, and no doubt FEMA and the Army Corps. And we'll get a report soon from the redirected EPA extolling the nutritious yumminess of heavy metals. Let the lectures by the insurance lobbyists begin on "why would anyone start a city below sea level, in a swamp, next to the ocean?"


Also, via Wunderground, is the important note that that dry front that slashed into Katrina's western flank didn't penetrate the eye and therefore Katrina could easily ramp herself back up to Cat5 before landfall.

...but, it seems, she's not going to: that dry front pretty much gutted Katrina, or at least the special something that made her such a monster. Katrina seems *fingers crossed* to be nothing more than a generic Cat4 hurricane now and NOLA looks like it's going to hold with moderate (i.e. "minimal" relative to earlier estimates) damage.

Gulfport, OTOH, sounds boned.

As of 10:00am CDT Katrina had been reduced to a Category 3.

Bad but not catastrophic.

Thank all the gods.

Since I am most likely without much news the next few days I am glad things seem to turn out pretty ok for New Orleans and hope Katrina will decrease in strenghts even more.

Just to point out: this is another thread where time-stamps are kinda crucial. All these dire comments, and no way to know they're all way out of date, or look back and see how what looked like when.

Just to point out: this is another thread where time-stamps are kinda crucial.

I confess, I don't see why. It'd be nice, but if one had really wanted up-to-date info one should have been checking other sources (e.g. TWC, Wunderground and the like).

I:'m not religious, but I have to thank God or chance or karma or whomever for that little wobble to the east last night. Because I like that town, and I wasn't crazy about the idea of saying that New Orleans was nice while it lasted. We almost woke up to a really horrible disaster this morning, and the only good thing about it would have been that it would have put 9/11 in perspective for us. Everything that NOAA said, and all the ramifications of those things, would have happened.

But this is a largely political site, so let me also make the political point about what The Little Wobble That Saved New Orleans meant. As we found out almost four years ago--actually, we knew it already, we just didn't know it quite as much--there's nothing that can boost a President's ratings like a really big disaster, and this would've been the Big Mama of really big disasters. There is too much water under the bridge for Bush to ever see 90% again, but he would have been at 65-70% in no time, and it wouldn't have been easy to get him down.

So for that, I secondarily thank the Invisible Cloud Being for the Little Wobble That Was.

"Just to point out: this is another thread where time-stamps are kinda crucial."

"I confess, I don't see why. It'd be nice, but if one had really wanted up-to-date info one should have been checking other sources (e.g. TWC, Wunderground and the like)."

Not so much for real-time happenings, as for retrospective realization of what was known/believed at different hours - a whole mini-narrative on What We Thought When, with potential subplots involving those Particularly Prescient (which is a step short of being Prematurely Anti-Fascist).

Historians care about stuff too, you know.

For what it's worth (and this isn't directed at dr. ngo, so much as at everyone else who clamors for time stamps)

(a) we want them too.

(b) we don't know how to get them.

(c) We have filed a help request with Typepad.

(d) Also, I have just, for the second or third time, spent about an hour prowling around Typepad trying to figure out how to produce them, without success.

(e) My take on this is that we are aware that timestamps would be great, but that I (at least) have done everything I can to produce them, to no avail. I do not believe that more requests for them would alter the fundamentals of this situation, but of course if anyone disagrees, feel free to go on letting us know how great they would be, and maybe, somehow, your requests will produce them after all.

Should we close our eyes tightly while we're wishing? Does that cover typing with the eyes closed as well? Would that help?

At the risk of having my intestines tied to a spoke of hilzoy's Harley, I want to note that the previews have timestamps, which seems like a useful clue.

Posted by: rilkefan at Aug 30, 2005 6:03:24 AM

Hmm, and the preview timestamp time seems to be somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

rilkefan: the problem -- at least for me -- is that there is no control covering this, and I don't know how to get in and edit the html. (I mean, I literally don't know how to get there -- I can find the html for the home page, but not for comments.) (If I did, I'd be scared to mess with it, but that's the next problem.)

I did add new categories, though, though I just realized that while they do show up while one is composing a post, they aren't on the list of categories on the side, which makes them sort of pointless. (Ethics, Law, and something like 'Why Are They Saying These Things?')

Historians care about stuff too, you know.

But do we care about historians?

...I kid! I kid! Really!

And now, the bad news, quoting myself for speed:

It's confirmed, one of the Lake Pontchartrain levees has breached. Estimated size of the breach is two blocks, confirmed by local police (at 17th and Canal). Downtown is flooding at a rate of 1 in per 5 minutes -- they're getting whitecaps down Canal Street eek4.gif . Worse, it's starting to flood Tulane University hospital, one of the few hospitals in the NOLA area that was essentially unaffected by Katrina (and currently holding 1000 people). They're talking airlifting people out, pronto.

And FWIW, the comment above was originally written at 2:30am Central but wasn't posted until almost 4am Central due to wackiness with the ObWi server.

Until the time stamps return, why not note in the "Name" field what time you are posting?

Just an idea.

This is just terrible, both the news and the attempt to score political points out of it.

posted at 4:00 EDT.

Posted 4:55 pm Central:

In case no-one's heard, New Orleans is being completely evacuated. The city is 80% submerged, up to 20 ft in some places. Even without the worst-case scenario, looks like the feces has well and truly hit the fan.

"and the attempt to score political points out of it"

Could you explain? If the levee broke because of intentional underfunding, I'd like to know who to hold accountable.


In my mind, this is potentially as catastrophic as 9-11, especially if:

a. the Port of New Orleans is out of commission for months, or

b. the numerous major refineries in the area are out of commission for months, or

c. the numerous chemical plants in the area start leaking into the water.

There are more immediate concerns than casting blame, especially if the best anyone can point to is that the repair funds were shortchanged due to other, more clearly pressing concerns.

In my mind, this is potentially as catastrophic as 9-11

In my mind, this is a good example of how overwrought our reaction to 9/11 was and has been. Potentially, this could be finis to one of the world's great cities. I do emphasize the word potentially, but 9/11, by comparison to what is potentially underway in New Orleans, is a footnote on the page of history.

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