Seven Years Post-Katrina, Isaac Threatens Direct Hit On New Orleans

Well it looks like we will get a chance to see if the levee repair work The Army Cops of Engineers did in New Orleans is up to the challenge of another hurricane.

KEY WEST, Fla. – Tropical Storm Isaac churned toward the northern Gulf Coast early Monday and promised to give the Republican National Convention a good drenching after lashing the Florida Keys and Miami area with wind and rain.

The National Hurricane Center predicted Isaac would grow to a Category 2 hurricane over the warm Gulf of Mexico and possibly hit late Tuesday somewhere along a stretch that starts west of New Orleans and runs to the edge of the Florida Panhandle. That would be one day shy of seven years after Hurricane Katrina struck catastrophically in 2005.

A Category 2 hurricane has sustained winds of between 96 and 110 mph and a strong storm surge. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called a state of emergency, and 53,000 residents of St. Charles Parish near New Orleans were told to leave ahead of the storm.

The levees of New Orleans are supposed to withstand a direct hit of a Category 3 hurricane. Of course that was true as well before Katrina, which hit New Orleans as a Category 1. We all know how that turned out…

Update: The Weather Channel’s Bryan Norcross predicts a surge larger than Katrina (or any other hurricane), and follows that up this morning with this:

The nightmare scenario of a long-duration landfall I wrote about last night continues. The forecast consensus is that the storm will slow to a crawl near southeastern Louisiana keeping southeast to east winds into the corner between Louisiana and Mississippi, and southerly winds against southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle, for an EXTENDED period of time. This will continue to push Gulf water over the coast and into Mobile Bay and other inlets for longer than normal in a landfalling hurricane.

New Orleans has decided NOT to order an evacuation, trusting the new levees. It’s important to remember, however, this storm could well put much worse weather over New Orleans than Katrina. If you recall, dry air was filtering into the left side of Katrina when it made landfall. There was very little damage from wind in the city. Top readings were mostly of tropical storm strength, except on the far east side. Issac may put higher winds over the city proper meaning people will have to take precautions in their homes that were not required in Katrina.

Other areas outside the massive new levee system WILL require evacuations, however. It’s extremely important that people take action today to get to a safe, comfortable place with plans and supplies to ride out a relentless attack of wind, rain, and high water from Isaac.

Let’s hope that Mayor Landrieu decision not to order mass evacuation, rather to order “sheltering in place” works out.

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