One Big Kat
I know that I promised you items on Eugene and Christine, but you’ll just have to wait. Instead, we will talk a bit about Katrina.
On This Date in History: In 1968, after great tumult, protest and controversy, Hubert Humphrey got the Democratic nomination for President. In 1949, the Soviet’s exploded their first atomic bomb. In the end, combatants both had similar fates; Humphrey and the Soviets both ended up going to pieces and never recovering.
On this date in 1960, Donna was born…that is a hurricane. But the only hurricane for the date that anyone will remember…that is until the next big bopper…is Katrina. The images associated with today’s little item is that of Katrina just after landfall and an image of the flooding in New Orleans.
Now, here are some things to remember from Katrina. Katrina was only a category three hurricane. Its winds had diminished just prior to landfall. I have not read the official post-mortem on the storm but I suspect it will say that it was going through an eyewall replacement cycle at landfall. That is a natural process for a hurricane when new eye forms as the old one collapses. The maximum winds decrease typically and the energy gets dispersed somewhat. So the result was that 100 mph winds went beyond Mobile but the top winds were down to 120-130 mph. But, remember, the storm previously had winds of 175 mph and just because you reduce the winds does not mean the sea will react immediately so the storm surge remained what would be associated with a category 5 storm. The surge in Mississippi was well over 30 feet in places. That is because it swept up the water from the mouth of the Mississippi, which is the Mississippi Trench. The water there is about 10,000 feet deep. The water along the shelf of the Mississippi coast is goes from about 90 feet. There is no place for the water to go but on the land.
Two things to note….New Orleans was not hit by a hurricane. Mississippi was hit by a hurricane. This was not the worst case scenario for New Orleans…not by a long shot.
Here is a link to a site from the New Orleans Times Picayune which shows the progression of the flooding and is notable because it illustrates some variances with national media reports. First, when reporters at 8 and 9 am in New Orleans were reporting live that the city “dodged a bullet” in fact the east part of town, not the lower 9th ward, had been flooded for a few hours. Second, there were some breaches but the water pressure put on the system really stretches the limitations of engineering in that area to prevent such an occurrence. Third, much of the flooding was caused by overtopping of levees. If the corps had built levees the size of the Great Pyramid, that would not have happened but does anyone think that 30 years ago the city would have allowed such eyesores? And finally, the city was flooded largely from a limited storm surge from Lake Borgne, not Lake Pontchartrain and some of the flooding was caused by a political decisions by a local leader who ordered a pumping station abandoned when the workers wanted to stay. You will see that toward the end of the presentation from the Times-Picayune.