Archive for August, 2010

Hurricane Earl Faces Challenges, Still Major Threat to US East Coast
August 31, 2010

Hurricane Earl Visible Satellite 1945Z 08.31.10 In Midst of Eyewall Replacement Cycle; Dry Air May Be Trying to Work In-Click Image for Real Time Loop

Note Great Lakes Trof and Huge Area of Dry Air Over Mid Atlantic States: Click Image for Real Time North Atlantic IR Rainbow Loop

CLICK HERE FOR MORE RECENT UPDATE CONCERNING HURRICANE EARL, HURRICANE WARNINGS AND WATCHES ALONG THE US EAST COAST AS FAR NORTH AS MASSACHUSETTS

Hurricane Earl has been behaving like a well developed hurricane as during the day on Tuesday it has been going through an eyewall replacement cycle.   Typically, the old eyewall collapses and a new eyewall forms.  During this time, any given storm’s maximum winds will typically decrease in response to a rise in the central pressure.  However, the energy tends to get dispersed throughout the storm, thus winds in the extremities may be higher than normally expected as the gradient is not quite as steep.  This is what happened with Hurricane Katrina:  it was going through an eyewall replacement cycle when it made landfall and so it was only a category 3 hurricane but, winds in excess of 100 mph were experienced well away from the center.  I believe that the winds were about 125 mph at the point of landfall in Western Mississippi but winds of 108 mph were felt near Mobile Alabama.  In any event, Earl should complete this cycle by Tuesday afternoon and thereafter some moderate strengthing is possible, though most models do not take it to category 5 status.    So, it may max out at around 140 mph and not 155.  What’s 15 mph amongst friends?  It’s still an extremely formidable storm.

NAM 850mb 12Z Thu 09.02.10 Note Movement of Trof East

NAM 12Z 850mb Wed 09.01.10 Note Trof Over Great Lakes

We had a big high pressure ridge over the Eastern United States last week and another ridge in the Atlantic with a trof in between.  Hurricane Danielle followed the trof that split the two ridges and stayed well out in the open waters of the Atlantic.  By this weekend, that weakness between the two ridges filled in and formed generally one large ridge from the mid Atlantic to the Eastern US with a slight weakness in the ridge along the US East Coast.  Now, as hurricanes traverse farther north from the equator, the coriolis parameters become greater.  The coriolis force is the apparent motion caused by the rotation of the earth.  Any hurricane in the Northern Hemisphere will want to move to the right due to the rotation of the earth.  Until the last day or so, the ridge to the north was strong enough to for the most part overcome the coriolis parameters and keep Earl moving generally westward.  However, as Earl moved north of the Virgin Islands, it began to get toward the edge of the strongest part of the ridge and now is moving to the right of a westward track.  Midday Monday it had a vector of 285 degrees and by the evening it was running at 300 degrees.  This however is not the expected turn north.

NAM 12Z Fri 850mb 09.03.10 Note Relation of Trof on East Coast Vs. Earl Position

That turn north will not occur until a trof moving across the northern part of the United States moves eastward to the US East Coast.  When it does, it will provide the channel for Earl to turn north and run up the trof.  A c0uple of things will happen at that time.  The southwesterly flow ahead of the trof will pick up the storm and turn it north and then eventually north-northeast and then northeast and the forward speed of Earl will also increase.  By the time its up to about 35 degrees North Latitude, it will most likely be scooting along at about 30 mph.  That southwesterly flow will not only turn it and increase its forward speed, it should also disrupt the outflow aloft and that would tend to limit any intensification potential or even lead to a decrease in intensity.  Even though there is a high probability of that coming about, it will still be a very strong storm with a high storm surge potential and its even possible that the forward speed might enhance the surge potential in the front right quadrant. 

1845Z Water Vapor-Huge Area of Dry Air Looks As if it is trying to wrap into Earl: Click Image for Real Time Loop

With regard to the intensity there is another potential fly in the ointment that could prove beneficial.  I noticed yesterday a huge area of dry air on the water vapor imagery to the north of Earl.  That dry air is not quite as large in scale today but it’s still there and is moving south.  Earl will be moving right into that environment and I think that there is a fair chance that Earl may have some of that dry air wrap into it.  If that happens, then the dry air will tend to weaken the storm.  Hurricane Opal got a shot of dry air and it actually acted as a steroid shot for a few hours and the intensity jumped unexpectedly but then it fell quickly when that dry air got into the core.  I believe that there is a chance that some dry air intrusion may take place. If so , that  would be good news.  Nevertheless, I believe the big story with Earl will be the ultimate track.

08.31.10 18Z Hurricane Earl Spaghetti Models Intensity

The spaghetti models have been consistently keeping the storm off the coast, though some recent runs had a model or two taking the storm inland in Maine or one even had it going in farther south in New England.  The National Hurricane Center has been inching the official forecast ever so slightly westward for each of the most recent forecast tracks and has been pretty consistent in keep their forecast track  to the left of the model consensus track.  No one can say for certain at this point because it comes down to a matter of hours in regard to the trof digging into the East Coast.  6 hours difference in the timing would result in the difference of a major hurricane running right along the coast or running up say 80 miles offshore.  While both scenarios would bring significant effects to the East Coast, a storm running just off the coast would be probably the worst case scenario.  In that worst case scenario in my mind, the eye of the hurricane would remain over water so the intensity would not drop all that quickly.  Meantime, coastal residents from North Carolina to Maine would feel the effects of a major hurricane, storm surge, winds and all. 

18Z 08.31.10 Hurricane Earl Spaghetti Model

There remain many scenarios as there are still several days for this to play out.  However, I think its safe to say that residents of the Eastern Seaboard will feel the effects of a hurricane by the end of the week.  The question is how much of an effect and no one can say with certainty what the answer to that question is.  However, places like the outerbanks of North Carolina, the Virginia Coast, Long Island and Cape Cod will get the worst of whatever Earl has to offer.  The history of hurricanes running up the East Coast is filled with examples of storms that weren’t too terrible, but there are also some glaring examples of storms that brought extreme devastation and loss of life.  While we can’t avoid any devastation, there is no reason for loss of life as the potential is great enough with this storm for everyone to know that the better part of valor is to get out of the way.  Remember, estimates suggest that a hurricane at its peak can release 10 to the power of 15 watts of total energy which equates to about 500,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs every day.  Hurricane Earl quite literally is the most powerful force on the face of the earth right now and that is a battle man cannot win.


Hurricane Earl NHC Forecast 5PM 08.31.10

WTNT42 KNHC 312043 TCDAT2 HURRICANE EARL DISCUSSION NUMBER 26 NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072010 500 PM AST TUE AUG 31 2010 ALTHOUGH THE SATELLITE PRESENTATION IS NOT AS IMPRESSIVE AS IT WAS EARLIER...A RECONNAISSANCE PLANE AROUND 1700 UTC REPORTED A MINIMUM PRESSURE OF 940 MB AND MAXIMUM FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS OF 128 KNOTS. THESE DATA SUPPORT AN INITIAL INTENSITY OF 115 KNOTS. CURRENTLY...THERE IS SOME SOUTHWESTERLY SHEAR DISRUPTING THE UPPER-LEVEL OUTFLOW OVER THE WESTERN SEMICIRCLE OF EARL. THIS SHEAR IS CAUSED BY A WEAK UPPER-LOW OR TROUGH OVER THE EASTERN BAHAMAS AS OBSERVED ON WATER VAPOR IMAGES. HOWEVER...MODELS WEAKEN THE UPPER LOW AS EARL MOVES AROUND IT...RESULTING IN A MORE FAVORABLE ENVIRONMENT. EARL IS EXPECTED TO MAINTAIN ITS CATEGORY FOUR INTENSITY FOR THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. EARL HAS BEGUN TO MOVE TOWARD THE NORTHWEST OR 305 DEGREES AT 12 OR 13 KNOTS DURING THE PAST FEW HOURS. THE SUBTROPICAL HIGH THAT IS STEERING EARL TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST OR NORTHWEST IS FORECAST TO GRADUALLY SHIFT EASTWARD AS A BROAD TROUGH BECOMES ESTABLISHED OVER THE EASTERN UNITED STATES. THIS PATTERN WILL FORCE EARL ON A MORE NORTHWESTERLY AND NORTHERLY TRACK FOR THE NEXT DAY OR TWO. THEREAFTER...EARL WILL REACH THE BASE OF THE MID-LATITUDE WESTERLIES AND WILL LIKELY TURN SHARPLY TO THE NORTHEAST WITH AN INCREASE IN FORWARD SPEED. THIS IS THE SOLUTION UNANIMOUSLY PROVIDED BY TRACK GUIDANCE. ONCE AGAIN THE OFFICIAL FORECAST HAS BEEN SHIFTED A FEW MILES TO THE WEST BEFORE 48 HOURS FOLLOWING THE TRENDS OF THE ECMWF AND THE GFS. GIVEN THE LARGE AREA OF TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS ASSOCIATED WITH EARL...AND THE NEW DEFINITION OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS...A HURRICANE AND TROPICAL STORM WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR A PORTION OF THE MID- ATLANTIC COAST. INTERESTS FROM VIRGINIA NORTHWARD TO NEW ENGLAND SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF EARL. FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS INITIAL 31/2100Z 22.0N 68.8W 115 KT 12HR VT 01/0600Z 23.3N 70.5W 115 KT 24HR VT 01/1800Z 25.6N 72.8W 115 KT 36HR VT 02/0600Z 28.0N 74.5W 115 KT 48HR VT 02/1800Z 31.0N 75.5W 115 KT 72HR VT 03/1800Z 36.0N 73.5W 95 KT 96HR VT 04/1800Z 44.0N 65.0W 75 KT 120HR VT 05/1800Z 56.0N 55.0W 50 KT...POST-TROP/EXTRATROP $$ FORECASTER AVILA
Advertisements

Major Hurricane Earl Posing Real Threat to US East Coast
August 30, 2010

Click on Image for Latest Satellite Loop

Earl Visible 1945Z 08.30.10 Click for Loop

CLICK HERE FOR MORE RECENT UPDATE

Hurricane Earl will pose a threat to residents along much of the eastern coast of the United States later this week.  If you recall, last week we had Hurricane Danielle that became a powerful hurricane but turned north from the tropical regions into the Central North Atlantic and really was nothing more than a concern for shipping, though it may eventually raise issues along the SE Greenland coast, Iceland, England or mainland Europe.  Danielle turned north because there was a trof in between ridge in the North Atlantic and a ridge over the eastern third of the United States.  Since that time, the trof lifted up and out and the ridge has filled in to a large degree.

Click on Image for Water Vapor Loop

Consequently, Earl has been traveling more westward around the expanding Atlantic ridge at the lower latitudes of teh North Atlantic than Danielle did.  The idea has been that this storm would turn north by now but the models did a lousy job of anticipating the expansion of the Atlantic ridge.  However, each model run from the last 48 hours have been taking the track of Earl farther and farther west.  At this point, none of the hurricane models that make up the spaghetti model depiction take Earl into the United States but does bring it close enough to cause an increase in tides and also provide windy weather in squalls.  However,  midday Monday, Earl was passing North of the Virgin Islands with a vector of 285 degrees, or just 15 degrees north of due west, which means that Earl has not begun its turn.

Hurricane Earl 18Z Spaghetti Intensity Model 08.30.10

Remember, coriolis parameters will want to turn Earl north but the ridge is preventing that.  Any weakness in that ridge will allow Earl to turn.  As it stands, the ridging along the US East Coast is not all that strong so some turning northwest  is anticipated.  But the major turn will come when a trof digs in from the Great Lakes and down the East Coast.  If that happens, then Earl will turn north and increase in forward speed.  There should also be some decrease in intensity as shearing with the trof will tend to mess up the upper support.  However, Earl will remain a significant hurricane.  At 5pm, winds were estimated at 135 mph with gusts to 155 mph.  Several models take Earl to Category 5 status on the Saffir Simpson Scale over the next few days before backing off. 

Hurricane Earl 18Z spaghetti model 08.30.10

The issue is when does Earl turn?  If the trof does not dig as deep as the models advertise, then the turn could be a more gentle, wide turn and that would increase the possibility of it running along the East Coast.  If the trof does not come through fast enough, then the storm will be farther west when it makes its turn and then it affects the US.  None of the hurricane models at this point show the eye of Earl on land in the US.  A couple of conventional 12Z models run it along the VA coast but, in general, they too keep it off shore.  Most models time the storm as off the VA coast on Thursday night.  The majority of the 12Z hurricane models take it to 131 to 140 mph winds (cat 4) at its maxima but decrease intensity as  it runs up the coast.  What concerns me is that if you look at the spagetti models at 18Z, they initiate Earl moving in a heading something a little greater northwest than what I observe from the actual satellite loop.  It could just be a wobble but its possible that Earl may have a bit more of an initial westward motion than the models think and that could greatly affect the ultimate track, depending on how the trof shakes out.  The 5PM Discussion has the intial motion at 290 degrees, which is 5 degrees farther north than the 11AM discussion, but the NHC has once again shifted the track farther west for the first 72 hours.  Again, this bears watching on the East Coast 

National Hurricane Center Forecast Hurricane Earl 5pm EDT 08.30.10

The 18Z hurricane models also raise the stakes and  initiate Earl as a Category 4 hurricane, yet, at 3pm EDT it was only 125 mph.  Several raise its intensity to category 5 before backing it off somewhat.  Regardless, tides will be running very high later this week all along the East Coast.  Folks from North Carolina to Maine will feel some effect of Earl for the latter half of the work week…it just remains to be seen how much of an effect.  The National Hurricane Center added this last remark to its 11AM Monday discussion, which should be enough for East Coast residents to pay attention:

THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO REMIND EVERYONE THAT NHC AVERAGE TRACK
FORECAST ERRORS ARE 200 TO 300 MILES AT DAYS 4 AND 5.  GIVEN THIS
UNCERTAINTY…IT IS TOO SOON TO DETERMINE WHAT PORTION OF THE U.S.
EAST COAST MIGHT SEE DIRECT IMPACTS FROM EARL.

HURRICANE EARL DISCUSSION NUMBER  22
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL   AL072010
500 PM AST MON AUG 30 2010

THE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT MEASURED 116 KT FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS AND
108 KT SFMR SURFACE WINDS SHORTLY AFTER 1500 UTC.  THIS WAS THE
BASIS FOR THE EARLIER INCREASE IN INTENSITY.  SINCE THAT TIME…THE
PRESSURE HAS CONTINUED TO DROP AND WAS DOWN TO 955 MB ON THE LAST
DROPSONDE RELEASED IN THE EYE AROUND 1700 UTC.  SINCE THE AIRCRAFT
DEPARTED EARL…THE EYE HAS CONTINUED TO CLEAR AND IS SURROUNDED BY
CLOUD TOPS TO -70 DEGREES CELSIUS OR COLDER.  OBJECTIVE SATELLITE
INTENSITY ESTIMATES HAVE INCREASED TO JUST ABOVE 6.0 ON THE DVORAK
SCALE AND SUPPORT AN INITIAL INTENSITY OF 115 KT…CATEGORY FOUR ON
THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON HURRICANE WIND SCALE.

EARL IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN IN A LOW SHEAR ENVIRONMENT AND OVER WARM
WATER DURING THE NEXT FEW DAYS AND SOME ADDITIONAL STRENGTHENING IS
LIKELY IN THE SHORT TERM.  THEREAFTER…EYEWALL CYCLES WILL LIKELY
INDUCE SOME FLUCTUATIONS IN INTENSITY…WHICH ARE DIFFICULT TO
PREDICT.  THE NHC FORECAST IS AGAIN NEAR THE HIGH END OF THE
INTENSITY GUIDANCE. AT DAYS 4 AND 5…THE HURRICANE IS FORECAST TO
MOVE OVER COOLER WATER AND INTO AN AREA OF INCREASING SHEAR WHICH
SHOULD RESULT IN WEAKENING.

THE INITIAL MOTION IS 290/13.  THE FORECAST REASONING REMAINS
UNCHANGED AS EARL IS EXPECTED TO TURN NORTHWESTWARD IN ABOUT 24
HOURS AROUND THE WESTERN PERIPHERY OF THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE. THE
TRACK GUIDANCE HAS SHIFTED NOTICEABLY WESTWARD DURING THE FIRST
48 HOURS…WITH THE GFS AND ECMWF ON THE EASTERN EDGE OF THE
ENVELOPE.  THE OFFICIAL FORECAST HAS BEEN ADJUSTED WESTWARD…
PRIMARILY THROUGH 72 HOURS…AND LIES BETWEEN THE GFS/ECMWF AND THE
MULTI-MODEL CONSENSUS.

THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO REMIND EVERYONE THAT NHC AVERAGE TRACK
FORECAST ERRORS ARE 200 TO 300 MILES AT DAYS 4 AND 5.  GIVEN THIS
UNCERTAINTY…IT IS TOO SOON TO DETERMINE WHAT PORTION OF THE U.S.
EAST COAST MIGHT SEE DIRECT IMPACTS FROM EARL.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL      30/2100Z 19.3N  64.7W   115 KT
12HR VT     31/0600Z 20.2N  66.3W   125 KT
24HR VT     31/1800Z 21.7N  68.1W   130 KT
36HR VT     01/0600Z 23.4N  70.1W   130 KT
48HR VT     01/1800Z 25.8N  72.1W   125 KT
72HR VT     02/1800Z 31.6N  74.7W   115 KT
96HR VT     03/1800Z 38.0N  71.0W    95 KT
120HR VT     04/1800Z 45.5N  63.0W    70 KT…INLAND

$$
FORECASTER BROWN

Hurricane Katrina Should Not Have Been A Surprise
August 29, 2010

View of New Orleans from Air Force One following a Hurricane; but it's NOT the Hurricane that You May Think

Flooding In New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward Well After A Hurricane. Note the Era of the Rescue Helicopter

On This Date in History:  When a category 4 hurricane approached the Southeast Coast of Louisiana, residents who did not leave the city of New Orleans were urged to stock up on food that did not have to be cooked as well as plenty of water.    They were urged to have an emergency radio and flashlights with fully charged batteries and make certain that gas tanks were topped off.  Residents who had small boats were told to make sure that their boats were secured.   As the hurricane roared toward shore, 8 offshore oil rigs were lost, including one owned by the former company of President George H. W. Bush.  Even though the hurricane weakened to a category 3 storm at landfall, a huge storm surge pushed west up the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.  Levees along the Mississippi Gulf River Outlet and along the Industrial canal failed.  Water in the Lower Ninth Ward reached the roofs of several homes and some residents drowned as they were trapped in their attics, attempting to escape the rising waters.  The levee breaches not only flooded the Ninth Ward, but also Chalmette, Gentilly and parts of St. Bernard Parish.  

Flooding In New Orleans From a Hurricane 40 years before Katrina

After 10 days, the water receded and left behind were over 164,000 homes  flooded by the hurricane.   Rumors persisted that levees were intentionally breached in an effort to protect more valuable property than that in less affluent areas such as Chalmette and Lower Ninth Ward.  However, evidence suggests that the failure of the levees was the result of substandard construction and poor maintenance.  The President of the United States had a busy schedule and had no plans to visit the devastated region.   The influential Senator from Louisiana called the President and told him, “…we have really had it down there, and we need your help.”  The President replied, “you got it.”   The Senator asked the President to visit New Orleans so he could see the devastation for himself.  But, the President explained that his schedule was full but said, “Let me look and see what I can back out of and get into and so on and so forth and let me give you a ring back if I can’t go, I’ll put the best man I got there.”  The Senator said he didn’t want his “best man.” 

Hurricane Betsy's Erratic Storm Track Was blamed by some on aircraft research missions flying into the storm

The Senator reminded the President of the political benefits of the President of the United States visiting the region.  The Senator was up for re-election and reminded the Commander-In-Chief of what a presidential visit would mean to his own re-election prospects to the US Senate.  “When I run for office next time, I’m going to be on the same dodge you’re going to be on. And frankly, if you go to Louisiana right now, you might be . . . just make it a stopover. We’ll [unclear]. You go to Louisiana right now, land at Moisant Airport.”   He then added a little extra flair by illustrating an imaginary news story:   “The President was very much upset about the horrible destruction and damage done to this city of New Orleans, lovely town. The town that everybody loves.”  The President first flew over the city in Air Force One before he eventually landed at Moisant Airport in New Orleans.

LBJ Gave Orders Better Than He Took Them But He Listened to Russell Long

The name of that hurricane was Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and the President of the United States was Lyndon B. Johnson. Hurricane Betsy was the first hurricane to cause damage worth over $1 Billion (1965 dollars), thus it was tabbed “Billion Dollar Betsy.”  The White House Tape Recording of the phone call from Sen. Russell Long to President Johnson and his response to Hurricane Betsy reveals that Long also reminded the president that he had lost Louisiana in the 1964 election and if he just came by for a visit, then “… they couldn’t beat you if Eisenhower ran.”  It is absolutely amazing of the similarity in several aspects surrounding Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Meteorologists were well aware of the lessons of Betsy but the media was completely ignorant and largely remain so today.  After Hurricane Betsy, the levee system was expanded and improved around the city of New Orleans but the same issues arose regarding construction and also maintenance.  But, even though Betsy was a stronger storm at landfall than Katrina, Katrina proved to be even more devastating to the Crescent City than had Betsy 40 years before.

Result of Storm Surge Through the Gulf Outlet From Hurricane Betsy 1965

Winds with Betsy in New Orleans were much higher than they were with Katrina as Katrina had weakened substantially prior to landfall as it went through and eyewall replacement cycle and Betsy actually hit New Orleans whereas Katrina did not.  However, Katrina still maintained its formidable storm surge associated with a category 4 or 5 hurricane.  Perhaps the greatest difference between the two storms was the angle of attack.  Hurricane Betsy came from the Southeast and moved Northwest.  It moved just south of the city and the city actually experienced both the north and east eyewall.  Katrina approached from the South-Southwest, very similar to Hurricane Camille in 1969 and the city was never affected by the eyewall.  Most computer models create a worst case scenario for a hurricane affecting New Orleans as a category 5 approcahing from the Southwest.  I’ve seen SLOSH models that put 30 feet of water in downtown New Orleans in association with a category 5 hurricane making landfall around Houma.  Like Katrina, Betsy was a category 5 hurricane that declined to category three level at landfall but its attack from the Southeast meant that the storm surge pushing west up Lake Bourne and into the Gulf Outlet or into Lake Pontchartrain was limited.  A storm approching fromm the Southwest has all of the Gulf of Mexico to grab and push into the region while a storm like Betsy threw much of its surge on Alabama and Mississippi and the orientation of the Gulf Coast relative to its approach also limited the water available for a surge.  Hence,  Katrina had a bigger surge than Betsy.

Katrina Storm Track

It is also important to recognize that Hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans.  Hurricane Katrina did not hit New Orleans; it hit Mississippi. The track was very similar to that of Hurricane Camille in 1969.  It could have been much worse and unless we do not understand what happened with Katrina and Betsy 40 years before, then the same thing will happen again.  However, should a category 5 hurricane make a landfall near Houma heading North-Northeast, then I suspect that any effort man makes will help but will not offer full protection.  While Katrina was far worse than Betsy for New Orleans, the lessons from 40 years before should have been heeded.  Some tried.  The New Orleans Times Picayune eerily published a story called “Washing Away” in 2002 that outlined the disasterous effect of even a moderate hurricane on New Orleans.  No one listened.

hurricane-katrina-51On This Date in 2005 New Orleans, Louisiana was under water.  It had been affected by Hurricane Katrina, but there are some things to remember from Katrina. As I mentioned, Katrina was only a category three hurricane when it made landfall on Monday morning August 29, 2005. Its winds had diminished just prior to landfall due a natural (and well timed)  eyewall replacement cycle. 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.

Katrina Surge in MS over 8 meters

Katrina Surge in MS over 8 meters

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 8,000 feet deep, give or take. The water along the shelf of the Mississippi coast is about 90 feet. There is no place for the water to go but on the land.  Hurricane Betsy did not draw on the same deep source for the surge and also had a vector heading that spread much of the surge along the coast.  Nevertheless, Lousiana still did not get the main surge with Katrina either.  Mississippi took the full brunt of the Katrina’s surge.  Mississippi was hit by the main force of the hurricane’s wind and water with New Orleans being on the western edge. The surge to the west of the eye was still substantial and actually went up Lake Bourne with the winds ahead of the storm coming from the East and shoving the water up the intercoastal waterway and then to the Industrial Canal and finally to the wall that collapsed into the Lower 9th Ward. I am told that the flood wall was designed to be weaker on that side of the canal so that if there was a huge force that threatened the integrity of the wall, the main part of the city would be protected. The Lower 9th Ward is in a natural marshy area and not a higher area like the French Quarter.   With Hurricane Betsy, the flood wall along the Industrial Canal did fail on both sides.

Storm Tide up Lake Bourne From Easterly Wind Ahead of Katrina about 5 meters

Storm Tide up Lake Bourne From Easterly Wind Ahead of Katrina about 5 meters

As a review, the New Orleans Times Picayune has a site that shows the progression of flooding of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina which includes a timeline. When you get to the flooding of Jefferson Parish, its important to note that the pumping station had been abandoned prior to the storm by order of the Police Jury President. The workers wanted to stay but politicians ordered them out. The defense of the police jury is that they said it was part of a “doomsday plan” devised years before to send workers 100 miles north in the event of a major hurricane. They say that they were prepared for a direct hit from a Category 5 hurricane. But, many residents say they would not have been flooded had the workers been allowed to stay at their posts. Further, at 11pm CDT on the 27th, the National Hurricane Center Forecast was not for a direct hit on New Orleans, but instead a Mississippi landfall.  Had the public officials not ordered the pumping station abandoned, its possible that many millions in property damage would not have happened.

The true story of Katrina, in my mind, has not been accurately portrayed in the press. In fact, I recall seeing a national news reporter saying from the French Quarter that the city had “dodged a bullet” when, in fact, the timeline shows that the levees on the east side of town had been over-topped hours before and the eastern suburbs were under water. Even when flooding had become known,  many news outlets used the same tired phrase that “New Orleans had dodged a bullet.”    Not surprisingly, most of those stories have been removed from internet archived files.  The fiasco that was the Superdome during Katrina was also not something that should have been a surprise as during Hurricane Georges, a similar situation resulted. The result of 14,000 people seeking shelter from Georges in 1998 was that evacuees stole furniture and damaged property that resulted in thousands of dollars in losses, and there were difficulties supplying the people living temporarily in the dome with necessities.  The procedures were not changed and the media had no clue that it had happened before.  From my experience, there are far more ignorant and uncreative people in television news than the public knows.  Way too many “journalists” are more interested in being on TV than in actually getting to the bottom of a story.  Often, they are incapable of understanding the nuts and bolts of a story or those who are competent become lazy or simply ignore facts that do not fit their world view.   For that reason, the true story may be years in being revealed to the public as true academics unravel the whole story.

Blanco Shows Leadership Skills Following Katrina

Blanco Shows Leadership Skills Following Katrina

In spite of my general feelings regarding the press, there are some who are willing and able to tell a full story.  On Sept 5, 2005 the Washington Post reported that the Governor of Louisiana refused to ask or allow for Federal Troops and takeover of relief efforts, partly due to political concern over how it would look for a Democrat Governor needing the help of President Bush. We have a federation and the Federal Government cannot just willy nilly send in troops into a state unless it falls under the guidelines of the Insurrection Act. By the time the governor had allowed the Feds in on that level, the city was already cut off. Other reports point to the Washington Post story stating that Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco had not declared a state of emergency prior to the storm (which was false, she did) as proof that none of that is true.

Gulfport MS: What a Direct Hit from a Major Hurricane Really Looks like..there's nothing left

Gulfport MS: What a Direct Hit from a Major Hurricane Really Looks like..there's nothing left

However, historian Douglas Brinkley wrote in his book Deluge that, while Blanco did declare a state of emergency, she only filled out a legal form that requested Federal assistance after the storm. Brinkley says, “If Blanco’s message to Bush had been an emphatic letter or frantic telephone call, and not merely a legal form—if it had actually communicated what wasn’t happening in Louisiana (i.e., evacuation)—various U.S. government agencies might have mobilized more quickly. Just as New Orleans wasn’t properly communicating with Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge wasn’t properly communicating to Washington, D.C. There was a chain of failures.” Brinkley does find fault with FEMA director Mike Brown for his lack of urgency. The fact that Brown was a little laid back is a bit odd since he had generally led hurricane relief efforts for Hurricane Ivan, Wilma, Charlie and Jean in Florida just the year before and the post storm criticism never seemed to come from Mississippi where the storm actually hit…it was just Louisiana. But, Brinkley also points out how a member of the Louisiana legislature tried to get Mayor Ray Nagin to understand the grave situtation but that they mayor was watching Little League Baseball less than 48 hours before the storm.

Hurricane Katrina as Cat 5 Hurricane Well Before Landfall

There is plenty of blame to go around.  From my experience in the media, it is no surprise at all that collectively they knew nothing about Hurricane Betsy nor that they initially had no clue about the flooding.  The way that they reported Katrina made it sound like the Lower 9th Ward and Chalmette had never been flooded like that before and both areas suffered similar flooding with Hurricane Betsy.  The newsfolks made it sound like the problems at the Superdome were unprecedented when, in fact,  a nearly identical situation with evacuees at the Superdome had happened in the past.  When people started charging that levees were purposely destroyed, no one thought to remind people that in 1965 similar charges were made.   Nevertheless, what is so terrible about this is not so much the nitwittery of the media, but instead the public officials.  They had some plans that simply didn’t work the way they were supposed to or should have worked.   But there were other concerns from previous storms that were never addressed nor corrected.  Political considerations were also an unnecessary and unhelpful part of Hurricane Betsy and Hurricane Katrina.  Elections matter.  I have always speculated that had Mike Foster still been the Governor of Louisiana, the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans may not have been so devastating.   However, while it could have and should have been better, it was going to be a disaster no matter what regardless of whether Lyndon Johnson was President or George W. Bush or whether Mike Foster or Kathleen Blanco was Governor. Man proposes, God disposes.

Weather Bottom Line:  The humidity levels have increased again so it will be a little more uncomfortable with lows in the upper 60’s.  Highs will be in the lower 90’s.  I told you that I thought that we had turned the corner on the excessive heat and humidity but that did not mean there would be no more 90 degree days.  It will be dry for the next several days, though an errant afternoon t’shower can’t be totally ruled out.

When The President Tried to Change the Way Americans Spell
August 27, 2010

Shooting Holes In The Dictionary

Taking Aim at Mr. Webster

Andrew Carnegie's Legacy Lives in Today's Libraries

On This Date In History: Back in 1906, Andrew Carnegie thought that if English was made more simple, it could become the dominant language in the world.   In an effort to try and simplify the spelling and writing of English, he funded the Simplified Spelling Board which was made up of a group of intellectuals who would discuss the issue.  The Board had 26 members including Supreme Court Justice David Brewer, US Secretary of the Treasury Lyman Gage and Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain.  The board determined that there many words that could easily be changed; such words like “ghost” could be made simpler by dropping the silent “h.”  Words like “blessed” could be reconfigured as “blest” and certainly the “u” could be dropped in words such as “behaviour,” “colour” and “honour.”  They had enough of “enough” and decided that “enuf” would do just fine.   The board did not want to overwhelm the nation so they proposed slowly introducing new word spellings with an initial list of 300 words that would be changed.  Some schools even adopted the suggests.  The go slow approach though got thwarted by a big stick.

Dan Quayle Decided To Be The Little Helper

President Teddy Roosevelt decided that me would be Vice-President Dan Quayle about 90 years before there was a Vice-President Dan Quayle.   If you recall, on June 15, 1992 then Vice-President Dan Quayle went to an elementary school in Trenton, New Jersey.  Quayle decided to help a kid with his spelling and added an “e” to the end of the word, potato.   That was effectively the end of Quayle’s political career and was no help in President Bush’s re-election bid.  It came as a big surprise to the eggheads on the Simplified Spelling Board when President Theodore Roosevelt unilaterly sent a letter to the US Government Printing Office on this date in 1906 that orderd the office to use the new spelling of the 300 words on the list.  President Roosevelt almost immediately got as much of a backlash as Vice President Quayle did nearly a century later.  Newspapers printed it as “Rozevult’s List.”  However,  Roosevelt managed to hold his seat in the White House.   The Rochester Post-Express pondered whether the president’s surname would spelled “Rusevelt” or “Buttinsky.”  The Baltimore Sun claim that the whole effort was simply “a scheme financed by Carnegie, backed by certain large publishing interests, and designed to carry out an immense project for jobbery in reprinting dictionaries and school books.”

The response to Roosevelt’s attempt to expand to power of the presidency to that of Grammarian in Chief was swift, broad and wicked. One columnist wrote that “nuthing escapes Mr. Rucevelt. No subject is tu hi fr him to takl, no tu lo for him tu notis.”  Congress wasn’t too certain that presidential powers extended to the spelling book and ordered the printer to pay no attention to the man with the big stick in the bully pulpit. So great was the public response, Mr. Roosevelt withdrew the order but later wrote that he glad “did the thing anyhow.”  I’m not certain exactly when the order was rescinded but Congress made certain that Presidential Power did not apply to the pen when on December 13, 1906 the US House of Representatives passed a resolution 142-24 that confirmed it would use traditional spelling found in most dictionaries and not the new and improved list of 300.  The US Supreme Court also vowed to not use the new spelling in spite of the involvement of Justice Brewer. 

Some Jobs Require Good Spellers

As many people who have read this blog can attest, either my spelling is lame or I can’t type.  But, spelling is very important and is seen by many as a reflection to the author’s competence or carelessness.  It would seem that words such as “kissed” did not become “kist” (except as part of the brand name “Sunkist”) but other words did gain a new set of letters.  It is not common in American to  spell “behavior’ or “color” with a “u.” 

The Good Old Washington "Natinals"

But, it would seem that text messengers have begun doing what Andrew Carnegie, Teddy Roosevelt and others tried to do over 100 years ago as many words are spelled in a shorter, simpler form in messaging.  One that comes to mind is “enuf.”   The effort at spelling reform has a long history and some people in the 21st century continue the effort at spelling reform.  It remains to be seen if those efforts or the texting craze continues and if the abbreviations eventually transform the way English is written.  In the meantime, make sure you learn to spell properly. Dan Quayle never won another election and neither did Theodore Roosevelt.

Weather Bottom Line:  The operative word for the last few days of August is dry.  High pressure will continue to dominate but will drift to the east.  Today will again have highs limited to the low to mid 80’s and the overnight low will be in the upper 50’s and low 60’s.  After that we get on the backside of the high with a return southerly flow.  We’ll be around 90 on Saturday afternoon and low 90’s for the balance of the week ahead.  Overnight lows will climb to the mid 60’s on Sunday morning and then upper 60’s thereafter.   My hydrangia is telling me that it needs water and your garden will be screaming the same, if it’s not already.

When a Hurricane Saved Washington DC and helped Win a War
August 25, 2010

Hurricane Providence Saved Washington as Commander In Chief Headed For the Hills

Hurricane Providence Saved Washington as Commander In Chief Headed For the Hills

Madison did not live up to Cartoon Maker's Image

Madison did not live up to Cartoon Maker's Image

On This Date in History:  The war of 1812 began June 18, 1812 when Congress declared war on Great Britain and President James Madison signed the measure into law. Why we call it the War of 1812 is lost on me because it wasn’t over until Christmas of 1814 and the biggest victory for the United States occurred after the war was over. Seems Andy Jackson and his boys in New Orleans didn’t get the news and met the British in a famous battle around Lake Borgne. The battle took place in January of 1815….so officially, one cannot say there was a battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812 because it was 1815 and the war was over. But, since Cleveland had already taken the moniker “the mistake by the lake” I guess they had to call it something. Wouldn’t that be pretty bad luck if you fought and died for your country in a battle of a war that was already over?

Stuart's George Saved by Dolley

Stuart's George Saved by Dolley

Now, not long before the war was over, Washington DC was in big trouble. On August 24, 1814, soldiers were racing alongside the civilians out of town in a panic. The British had landed 8 days prior with some 4000 battle-hardened troops who had seen plenty of action in the wars with Napoleon. The Americans were not experienced, not well trained and not well led. The President of the United States, James Madison came galloping through on a horse shouting “Clear Out! Clear Out!” When the Commander-In-Chief is telling everyone to haul-ass, then everyone listens. One of America’s proudest moments. Before his wife, Dolley Madison, left she grabbed a bunch of paintings including Gilbert Stuart’s famous painting of George Washington.  It’s a good thing she did because, as it turns out, Dolley Madison is credited with saving valuable artifacts of the nation

Maj. Gen. Robert Ross Led The Men Into Washington and Led Them in a Hasty Retreat In the Face America's Secret Weapon

The Redcoats came marching into Washington expecting a defense. Instead, they faced but a single volley of musket fire. But, it was enough to get their attention because it killed one guy, wounded three others and took out the horse from under the commanding general. The Brits moved on to the Capitol, where again they expected a last stand. So, they fired a few rockets through the windows and storm trooper busted down the doors only to find the chirping of crickets. So, they set the place on fire. Then they set the White House on fire as well as the Treasury building. Major General Robert Ross, the commander, stopped by the newspaper National Intelligencer to pick up the scribe’s final paper that assured the residents that the city was safe. Yup…the press was right on that story and have been as accurate ever since. Anyway, Ross couldn’t get the paper into his pocket as a souvenir because he had already filled his pockets with some of Madison’s personal papers. The general shouted, “Damn It! My pocket is full of old Madison’s love letters!” That’s what he gets for looting.

Bill Thornton Saved the Patent Office...Sorta

Bill Thornton Saved the Patent Office...Sorta

On August 25, 1814, a single maniac named John Lewis came charging at the British Army. He was the grandnephew of George Washington and it seems he was upset over his impressment into the Royal Navy. So, he went on a revenge binge only to get himself shot to death. There was another, more successful defender though. Dr. William Thornton ran the Patent Office and just as the soldiers were set to torch the building, he told the perpetrators that they would be no better than the barbarians who had put ablaze the Ancient Library of Alexandria. I suppose in shame, the Redcoats backed off and the Patent Office was saved. Then, Divine Providence showed up.

Not Long After the British Burned the White House, a Hurricane Doused the Flames and Forced the Redcoats Backed to their Ships

The British tried to set fire to 150 barrels of gunpowder at an abandoned American fort. The nitwits ended up setting off the whole kit and kaboodle at once and killed 30 of their own men while wounding another 44. Seems these guys were their own worst enemy. Then the wind picked up and the rain started to fall in buckets. Just in the nick of time, on this date in 1814,  before the entire city was burned to the ground, a hurricane showed up. The fires were put out and Ross ordered a full scale retreat back to their ships. The British never returned and Washington DC was saved from total destruction by this so-called “Hurricane of Providence.”   Most accounts of the burning of Washington, such as the New World Encyclopedia, mention the hurricane in passing but do suggest that the rain from the tropical cyclone did put out the fires in the public buildings.  Now, just because the British evacuated Washington DC doesn’t mean that they were done. Somehow their ships were spared the wrath of the hurricane because less than a month later, they attempted to invade Baltimore but they were not able to fully penetrate the city’s defense or destroy Fort McHenry that guarded Baltimore Harbor. It was during the bombardment of Fort McHenry that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the words to what became known as the Star Spangled Banner. And guess who was also involved in that attack? Why none other than Maj. Gen. Robert Ross was a key figure in the adventure of Francis Scott Key during the Battle of Baltimore. So, without the Hurricane of Providence, maybe there would not have been a Star Spangled Banner. But, this national intervention of Divinity didn’t save everything. While the city was saved, the Patent Office that Dr. Thornton so skillfully saved wasn’t as lucky. The roof blew off. Perhaps Dr. Thornton missed church that week.

Weather Bottom Line:  You won’t believe the end of the week.  A big fat area of high pressure is dropping down from Canada.  You’ll wake up to temps in the low 60’s or maybe even upper 50’s on Thursday morning.  It will be tough to get to the low 80’s in the afternoon.  Friday the high moves off to the east but overnight temps will fall to the low to mid 50’s.  The wind will become more easterly on Friday afternoon and we’ll get to the low 80’s.  Another cool night on Friday night will give way to Southeasterly winds on Saturday and highs in the mid to upper 80’s and then we’ll threaten 90 on Sunday.  There will be abundant sunshine throughout.  This high will get anchored along the East Coast which will help prevent Hurricane Danielle from approaching the US and most likely what will become Hurricane Earl as well.

Permanent Evidence of Life And Death in Pompeii 79 AD
August 24, 2010

Mt. Vesuvius in a Plinian eruption as described by Pliny the Younger in 79 AD

Last Vesuvius Eruption in 1944 Looks Very Similar to Pliny's 79 AD Observations

On This Date in History:  Italy is in some regard the cradle of Western Civilization, though the roots of modern Western culture can be traced to many regions around the Mediterreanean Sea.   Mixed in with the history of Italy and the Roman Empire are episodes of tragedy that were largely man-made.  However, some disasters were simply human tragedy.  The Bay of Naples in Southern Italy has a beautiful location for a town in the Campania region of the Napoli Province at the mouth of the Sarno River at the base of a giant mountain.  What could be better than a port near a river that gave access to inland markets on a bay that is a gateway to the rest of the world?   Sometimes a hidden menace can spoil what appears to be prime real estate.

Impact Zone from Eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD

In the early part of the 1st Century, earthquakes in the region were quite common and accepted as just a way of life.  Most were merely a nuisance but in 62 AD there was a violent tembler,even by Italian standards.  In 64 AD, the Roman Emperor Nero was in Naples performing when another major earthquake struck.  While life went on, it took quite a bit of time for the town to recover.  In 79 AD, the town was still recovering from the earthquake in 62 AD and, to a lesser extent, the one in 64 AD.  Around that time, more earthquakes rattled the area but this time something strange happened.  The wells and springs all dried up.  By the time August rolled around, the earth had cracked.  In late August, the sea became rather turbulent and the animals in the area began to behave in a very strange manner.   The residents of the town, probably more appropriately called a city, were somewhat alarmed but not so much that they thought to leave their home at the base of Mount Vesuvius.  Had they known what the mountain was telling them, they most likely would have left their city of Pompeii because on this date in 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted violently.

Poor Dog Captured Forever in Image of Death

This single event is responsible for making Mt. Vesuvius one of the more well known volcanoes in the world.  However, it’s not so much for the event as to what was discovered 1700 years later.  In fact, the modern world may have been ignorant to the great eruption in 79 AD had it not been for the writing of a young man known as Pliny the Younger.  He was the nephew of a Roman offiical who had charge of the Roman Navy in the region.  His uncle, Pliny the Elder, was not only a military and political leader, but he was also a naturalist.  He also raised his nephew.   As a naturalist, Pliny the Elder habitually recorded many scientific observations and his nephew followed in his uncle’s footsteps.  Pliny the Younger wrote to the Roman historian Tacitus about the events of August 24, 79 AD.  He lived with his uncle about 18 miles from Pompeii in the town of Misenum where the fleet was stationed.  At one in the afternoon, the Younger’s mother urged his uncle to look at the strange cloud rising from a distant mountain.  He said that it “was ascending, the appearance of which I cannot give you a more exact description of than by likening it to that of a pine tree, for it shot up to a great height in the form of a very tall trunk, which spread itself out at the top into a sort of branches.”   

What Appears to Be A Family Frozen in Time from 79AD

The Elder thought he’d take a small boat out to make an observation and asked the Younger if he’d like to come along but the young man was too busy with his studies.  Before the Elder could leave on his scientific excursion, he received a note from a relative that said her home at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius was in great danger and that there was no escape except by sea.  The Elder took off his scientific hat and took on the role of Roman citizen and Prefect and ordered his fleet to sea.  As he neared the city, his ships were pelted by falling stone and pumice as well as burning cinders.  Though his ships were in grave danger, he ordered them to shore.  When his pilot advised that they turn back, Pliny the Elder responded by saying, “Fortune favours the brave; steer to where Pomponianus is!”

An Embrace That Has Lasted Since August 79 AD

Pliny the Elder died that day in the firestorm.  Mt. Vesuvius buried the city of Pompeii under 10 feet of ash while the neighboring town of Herculaneum found itself 75 feet below the surface.  The eruption happened so suddenly that thousands of people died, many of whom were entombed as they attempted to flee.  Mt. Vesuvius erupted about every 100 years thereafter until about 1037 when the volcano went silent for about six centuries.  It awakened from its slumber in 1631 resulting in the deaths of about 4000 people.  As I said in the beginning, volcano notwithstanding, it was  a great place for a city so the rebuilding began.  While the city continued its rebirth over a century later, excavations uncovered the ancient city of Pompeii beginning on March 23, 1748.   The excavation work continues today.  

Preservation Was So Exact that Expressions of Agony Can Be Seen on the Victims

The observational recordings of the Mt. Vesuvius eruption by Pliny the Younger , preserved by Tacitus, resulted in the earliest detailed description of a volcanic eruption in human history.  That in itself makes the volcano noteworthy.  But, the discovery of the buried city is what really put the mountain and the city on the map as the ash preserved the city in a virtual snapshot of time.  From the ruins, it has been determined how Romans in the 1st century lived and they provide some clue as to how the people of Pompeii died.  Not only were the buildings and examples of advanced Roman engineering maintained as a model for archaeologists and anthropologists to study, but human remains were suprisingly left behind.  Stone like figures that appeared to be sculptures of people and animals in the throws of death were found.  The descriptive skill of Pliny the Younger and the heroic effort of his uncle led to the characterization of eruptions similar to that of Vesuvius as “Plinian.”  A typical Plinian eruption features the ejection of tephra into the atmosphere in a cloud that resembles a mushroom cloud, or as the Younger described it, a pine tree.  In 79 AD, it is speculated that the cloud rose to about 66,000 feet and pumice and ash rained on the countryside for 18 hours.  Under the weight of the ash buildings collapsed and then a blast of gasses and extreme heat engulfed the city.  Some speculation as to the ultimate demise of those who could not escape by sea centers around the excessive heat. 

US Army Air Corps Suffered More Damage From Mt. Vesuvius in 1944 than from the Germans and Italians

Now, Mt. Vesuvius has erupted about 50 times since that fateful day in 79 AD yet, as I’ve said, its a great place for a city and today there are nearly 3 million inhabitants of the region at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius.  It has got to be one of the most vulnerable and dangerous of all the world’s metropolises.  The last time it erupted was right in the middle of World War II.  The Mt. Vesuvius eruption in 1944 came just as the allies were attempting to take control of Italy from Mussolini and Hitler and, at times, the erupting volcano was more of an enemy than the facist soldiers.  Since 1944, the volcano has remained silent yet is still considered as an active volcano.  One day it will awaken again.  If it does, then you can have a birds-eye view from the webcams now situated on and around Mt. Vesuvius.

Weather Bottom Line: I told you that I thought that we’d turned the corner on the excessive heat and it would seem that we’re getting a little more evidence that there is a seasonal change coming.  Now, I’m not saying that we won’t get to 90 degrees again this year, but I am saying that the upper 90s are probably gone as well as the extreme humidity.  When we do get to 90, which we may this weekend, it won’t be so dog gone humid.  As it stands, we have a cold front coming through on Wednesday afternoon or evening followed by a secondary push of Canadian air.  That means that the latter part of the week we may see highs only in the low to mid 80s as we enjoy the front side of the Canadian high pressure system dropping down.  Our mornings will be in the mid to upper 50’s.  When the high drifts off to the east for the weekend, then we get a return flow and warm back up.  It’s a nice break and an indication that the times they are a changin’.

When the State of Franklin Tried To Become America’s 14th State
August 23, 2010

United States Map 1783-1803 includes inset that features State of Franklin

On This Date In History: In Colonial times, the Crown made the rules and in 1763, England decreed that no settlements be made west of the Appalachian mountains.   This decree was known as the Proclamation of 1763 and the intent was to prevent an escalation of fighting between English settlers and Native Americans. 

Note that Extreme Western NC and East Tennessee Are Beyond The Boundary of the 1763 Proclamation

After the French and Indian War, English settlers poured over the mountains into the region formerly inhabited by the French.  The Indians of the region formed an alliance under the Ottawa chieftain Pontiac in an effort to push back the intrusion.  The proclamation was designed to give London control over westward expansion rather than provincial governments.   The Native Americans really weren’t too keen on the proclamation because one of the provisions was that they had to cede more land for European settlement.  But, they went along as they felt it was probably the best deal that they could get.  The Cherokee worked hard to quickly draw the boundaries so as to preclude further White settlement.  Nevertheless, frontiersman refused to abandon their outposts…remember Daniel Boone was running around what is now Kentucky in the 1760s.

Painting of Franklin in 1785 Looks As if Ben Were Asked About His Feelings Toward Having a State Named For Him

Several of the original coastal colonies stretched westward deep into the continent and colonial governments had a difficult time maintaining control of their western territories.  In the 1670’s, revolt in western parts of Virginia led to Bacon’s Rebellion.  In the case of the North Carolina Colony, the western boundary was the Mississippi River.  The vast majority of inhabitants lived on the coastal plain, east of the Appalachian Mountains and they enjoyed the most services for their taxes and they also controlled the political system.   Much as the folks in western Virginia in the 1670’s, people living in the western portion of North Carolina felt as if they had no representation in any political system and that they were forced to pay taxes in support of the regions along the coast.  In 1772, hundreds, if not thousands, of folks in the mountains of what is now eastern Tennessee formed the Watauga Association.  The effort was mainly for defense against the Indians but it also gave them a unified political voice.   When the American Revolution came about, the Wataugans used their expert aim with their long rifles to defeat the British at King’s Mountain, South Carolina under the leadership of John ” Nolichucky Jack” Sevier.   After the Revolution, the state of North Carolina wasn’t any nicer to the region than the king had been as they taxed the Wataugans “grievously….without enjoying the blessings of it.”

Sevier-A "Statesman"?

Sevier-A "Statesman"?

In 1784, it was apparent that it was politically impossible to effectively control the vast region of  North Carolina  and the state legislature offered to cede the Tennessee lands to the federal government.  In response, the Wataugans held  a convention and on this date in 1784 representatives of the people who lived in what is now eastern Tennessee voted to found the 14th state of Franklin.  Even though the new “state” was named for him, Ben Franklin declined an invitation to visit but Thomas Jefferson approved of the move. They even elected John Sevier as Governor. But, they got a little ahead of themselves as only 7 of the 13 states agreed with Jefferson and the Constitution said that they needed 9 to gain statehood. Meanwhile, back in the North Carolina capitol of Raleigh, the state rescinded their offer of secession of its western lands to the federal government  and arrested Sevier as a traitor!   Undeterred, the state of Franklin continued to operate on its own until 1789.   This was an illustration of the difficulty of the time as Raleigh making laws and decrees was one thing but being able to enforce the law in the west was another story.  Eventually, in  North Carolina gave in, pardoned Sevier and forgave the settlers back taxes and once again ceded the western lands to the Tennessee territory of which Franklin became part.  When the territory was admitted to the Union in 1796, Sevier was elected its first Governor.

James Alex Baggett Wrote About the Union Cavalry From Tennessee

 In truth, East Tennessee is a legal distinction as is Middle Tennessee and Western Tennessee.  According to the Tennessee Constitution, no more than two state supreme court justices can come from any of the regions, thus insuring that each part of the state is represented on the state’s highest court.  But, the regions also were, and to some degree still are, differentiated by their socioeconomic level.  In the 1860’s, the eastern part of the state was the poorest of the three regions and had, by far, the fewest number of slaves.  Yeoman farmers had little in common with wealthy slave owners.  At the 1861 state secession convention, 29 counties in East Tennessee and 1 in Middle Tennessee spoke out against secession and threatened to once again form an independent state aligned with the Union.   While they did not rejuvenate the state of Franklin, the folks in East Tennessee maintained their independence.  During the Civil War, most of the mountain folks of East Tennessee remained loyal to the Union and proved to be a real thorn in the side of the Confederacy, much as they had to the King and to North Carolina. 

Kevin T Barksdale Wrote About the Lost State of Franklin

If the US was ever invaded, I have thought there were parts of the country that would never be conquered and East Tennessee is near the top of my list.  Today, one can find State of Franklin Blvd east Elizabethton, TN; I’ve driven by it before it may even be in North Carolina but I can’t find it on a map.  Just north of that Elizabethton is the town of Watauga.  Not far to the east in North Carolina is Watauga County.  Curiously, the town of Franklin, TN is nowhere near the region as it can be found south of Nashville.

Weather Bottom  Line:  As it turns out, the storms on Saturday morning robbed the atmosphere of so much energy when the front came through on Saturday night, it had nothing to work with.  I should not have been so wishy washy.  Declaring “If” and “Maybe” is not really making a forecast.  My bad.  We will be dominated by high pressure with relatively dry air in the region so for the week ahead, highs in the upper 80’s will feel quite refreshing.  I really do think we’ve turned the corner on excessive heat for this year.

Some US Currency Was Once Worth Just a Fraction of a Dollar
August 21, 2010

Five Cent Postage Currency Note 1862

On This Date In History: Many people think that the economy is just terrible. I recall the one in the late 70’s and early 80’s with unemployment at about 8%, Inflation at about 11% and interest rates at about 16%…or maybe higher. Perhaps your grandparents, or maybe even Steve Burgin, can tell you tales about the stock market crash in 1929! But I bet hardly anyone knows about this date in 1862 when economic conditions got so bad that the government started printing 5, 10, 25 and 50-cent notes.

5 Jeffersons Equals 25 Cent Postage Currency in 1862

See, in 1862 the US Government had a little problem. It was called the Civil War. By August 1862 things weren’t going so well. Just like in later wars…WWI, WWII, Korea, Iraq….the good guys weren’t rolling to victory in the first year or so as Americans expected and, in fact, the news wasn’t good so the American public, being short-sighted, turned to despair. In 1862, coins were made of nearly pure metals. Pennies were copper, other coins were silver or gold. Well, with the government falling into debt to finance the war and the perception that the Union might lose, people started hoarding their coins. A building in New York collapsed from the weight of pennies stored on the second floor. The Washington Star wrote that “. . . In 1862 small change became very scarce. . .It was more than a day’s search to find a five-cent silver piece.” So, there was no money in circulation and the government had other things to do like figure out how to stop the Confederate Armies. So, it was up to the Treasury Department.

One George Was on the 10 Cent Note But Five Georges Was Worth 50 Cents

Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase proposed using postage stamps as currency.  Americans were already using them in such a manner with the shortage of coins.  But, the postal service did not like the idea and displayed its disapproval by refusing to give refunds for soiled stamps.  In spite of the non-cooperation from the post office, Congress and President Lincoln passed the Postage Currency Act on July 17, 1862 which authorized the printing of 5, 10, 25 and 50-cent notes.  The stamps were designed by US Treasurer General Francis E. Spinner who asked for someone to bring him some postage stamps and blank paper. He cut pieces of paper in equal 2.5 x 5 inch sections and affixed stamps of various denominations on the corner. Spinners cut-outs became the model for the 5 different issues of the mini-bills that continued in production until 1876. There were 23 different designs that apparently are some of the most artistic in American currency.

Front of 3 Cent Note from 3rd Issue of 1864-1869

The first issue began on August 21, 1862 and were known as Postage Stamp Currency.   Spinner had shown no creativity whatsoever in regard to the 5 and 10-cent notes because they were simply facsimiles of the corresponding 5 and 10 cent postage stamps.  The first issue of the Postage Currency was not even legal tender but could be exchanged in 5 dollar lots of United States Notes.  They also could be used for any payments due to the United States up to 5 dollars.  In the first few months of production, the sheets of stamps were perforated like regular postage stamp sheets. 

Reverse Side of 3rd Issue 3 Cent Postage Currency

 But, demand was so high that  the perforating machines couldn’t keep up so they started printing them on regular sheets which had to be cut with a pair of scissors.  Soon, it was discovered that the stamps were quite easily counterfeited and Chase ordered that a new batch be produced in 1863 that wasn’t so easy to duplicate.  The new set had printing on the reverse side (not sure how you could tell front from back) and they had additional colors.  The Currency Stamps are great finds for collectors, especially that first issue.  I got a $10 silver certificate in change some time ago and I’ve also gotten steel pennies in change, but never have I found a 5-cent bill.

Weather Bottom Line:  Saturday morning we had a line of rain and t’storms roll through the area.  This was in advance of  a shortwave trof that is associated with a cold front to the west.  We had much needed rain and this event was very predictable as it was quite prominent in the Midwest on Friday night.   Now, here’s the problem.  The front and shortwave will be approaching all day and will come through tonight.  The big question is will we have enough time to reload the atmosphere.  This morning’s activity used up all the energy.  Given that we have all day, it seems likely that we will erode the clouds by the afternoon and we will heat back up again.  So, in all probability another line will develop this afternoon.  But, a question in this regard is where does it form?  If it forms to our west, then we will be in the midst of developing strong storms and that could be interesting.  It may form right over the top of us too or, less likely to our east.  I suspect that we will get another round this evening with the front, though it may be more of a scattered nature.  Either way, we remain on the edge of the SPC risk outline for severe weather in the slight category. If we get anything the biggest threat, I should think, would be in the form of high winds.  Lightning is not a severe category but is still a risk nonetheless.

Depending on how fast this guy moves through, we may have a lingering leftover shower early Sunday but after that, we look dry and the weather looks pretty good for much of the week ahead with lots of sun, reasonable humidity and highs in the upper 80’s and lows in the upper 60’s.  I believe that we are on the downside of summer and we’re most likely about done with the excessive heat and humidity of the last several weeks.

Women’s Right To Vote Hinged On A Boy Listening to His Mother
August 19, 2010

How Could Anyone Oppose These Babes?

How Could Anyone Oppose These Babes?

These Guys Opposed the Chick Vote, But Wouldn't Show their Faces.

These Guys Opposed the Chick Vote, But Wouldn't Show their Faces.

On This Date in History:

We’ve had the health care debate  and people were complaining that one side or the other may have an organized or orchestrated effort.   Now, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is suggesting that opponents to the mosque in New York City should be investigated to determine from whom their organized funding is coming.  Then, there is the argument as to whether the Tea Party is a “grass roots effort” or a co-ordindated national movement.   The charge of “organization” comes up quite often in politics and the proper response may be , “so what?”  The Sons of Liberty was an orchestrated movement against the crown.  The Civil Rights movement was organized. The women’s suffrage movement was organized, but so were opposition groups. It has happened throughout history. Organization is what gets things done…that’s why there are political parties.  But, even with organizations, sometimes success or failure relating to a given topic may fall to an individual.

Burn became women's best friend, thanks to mom

In the Summer of 1920, the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was very much in doubt. Only one more state legislature had to ratify the amendment but the remaining states were in limbo. It was called the war of the roses. Supporters of the amendment, the “Suffs” which was short for “suffragists”, wore yellow roses while those opposed, or the “Antis” clung to a red rose.

Febb Is An Unsung Heroine

On August 18 in Tennessee, a vote was taken and it resulted in a tie. Young legislator Harry Burn was from the “anti” county of McMinn and he wore a red rose. But, it seems young Burn got a letter from his mother Febb Ensminger Burn who told her son to” be a good boy” and help put the “rat” in ratification and so on the second vote  the changed his vote and the amendment passed.  On this date in 1920, when the sun rose, the suffrage movement finally succeeded and women had gained the right to vote. Burn said, “I know that a mother’s advice is always safest for a boy to follow.” So, all you ladies out there should lift a glass to Febb….and hope the World Meteorological Organization doesn’t find out and call a hurricane Febb as it would most certainly make its presence known. But, truth be told, we should all perhaps thank Febb because the wisdom of women in the voting booth is most likely a necessary ingredient in making the nation a more perfect Union.

Weather Bottom Line: We really won’t have a warm front per se coming through today but just a return flow from the south as the old boundary washed out south of the region.  We most likely get up to around 90 or so today and then on Friday I suspect that, not only will we inch into the low 90’s but the humidity will again be an issue.  Saturday, a pre frontal trof will be lurking to our west so the prospects of it working in conjunction with higher heat and humidity to give us some afternoon t’storm activity will be enhanced.  The cold front itself will be creeping down here over night and then get bogged down in the region, either just to our north or south, either way, the mercury should be held down on Sunday with a chance of rain from time to time.

Hurricane Camille A Powerful But Forgotten Lesson
August 17, 2010

Ocean Going Ships Were No Match for Hurricane Camille Aug. 17, 1969

Before Katrina, There Was Hurricane Camille

On This Date in History:  Hurricane is the name given for tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic.  Tropical Cyclones  form in various parts of the globe but are most frequent in the Western Pacific, where they gain the moniker of Typhoon.  While the annual frequency in the North Atlantic is well below the number expected in the Western Pacific, the very fact of their destructive potential is sufficient for there to be a close study of the storms as they relate to the United States.  By the early 20th century, Americans are used to seeing satellite loops and expert analysis with forecast tracks on television.  While the exact landfall and intensity forecast is not always perfect, everyone in a given area is well informed about the prospects for their area regarding any tropical cyclone activity.  But, it wasn’t all that long ago that none of that was available. 

The Forecast Track For Hurricane Camille Missed the Mark-We've Come a Long Way Since 1969

blahHurricane satellite tracking technology was first developed in 1960, so it has not been available for all that long.  Prior to satellites, the only way that meteorologists could know that a hurricane was approaching was from ship reports.  But, ships tend to try to avoid big storms so the information available was relatively limited.  That meant that the forecast success rate was limited.  The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 was officially forecast by the US Weather Bureau to go up the east coast of the United States.  Meteorologist Isaac Cline in Galveston was convinced the storm was approaching Southeast Texas while his bosses in Washington kept saying otherwise.  So, the advent of satellite technology was a huge step forward in tracking storms.  The first hurricane to be tracked continuously by satellite was a rather ominous one:  Hurricane Camille.  In just 3 days it would grow from a tropical storm to become the most powerful force on the face of the earth and the storm of the century.

Hurricane Katrina Made Landfall in Almost The Identical Location As Hurricane Camille 36 Years Earlier

Camille came off the African coast as a tropical wave and progressed across the Atlantic.  On August 9, 1969 it was reported as a disturbance nearly 500 miles east of the Leeward Islands.  Five days later, it was determined that it had a circulation  near the Cayman Islands with a central pressure of 29.50″ or 999 mb and it gained the name of Tropical Storm Camille.  A day later, it was southest of Cape San Antonio, Cuba and it’s pressure had dropped to 991mb or 29.26″ of mercury.  The maximum winds were estimated to be 115 mph and Camille was designated as a hurricane.  Now, the forecast had called for the storm to make a landfall in the Florida panhandle.  But, hurricane forecastinig was in its infancy and, again, this was the first storm to be tracked by satellite.  So, the level of experience using such techniques was limited.  The forecast track versus the actual track had a much larger degree of error than we have today.   Even today,  the intensity forecast is extremely difficult so, back in 1969, the experts had their hands full in that regard.  By the 16th of August, Hurricane Camille had moved North-Northwest into the Gulf of Mexico and its central pressure dropped to 905 mb or 26.72″ of mercury.  At that time, it was the lowest central pressure ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico and one of the lowest ever recorded for a tropical cyclone anywhere in the world. 

Fishing Boats Became Common Yard Decorations

On August 17, 1969 Hurricane Camille was about 250 miles South of Mobile Alabama with maximum surface wind speeds estimated to be in excess of 200 mph.  Hurricane Camille was significantly more powerful than Hurricane Katrina.   At 11:30 pm on this date in 1969, Hurricane Camille made landfall near Bay  St. Louis, MS.  Hurricane Katrina had a remarkably similar path as Camille.  Remember, Hurricane Katrina did not hit New Orleans; Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi in nearly the same location as Hurricane Camille 36 years before. 

Destruction Level Map As a Result of Camille

When Camille made landfall, the guage at the west end of the Bay St. Louis bridge registered 909 mb or 26.85 inches of mercury.  That represented the second lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in the United States; a 1935 Labor Day Hurricane in the Florida Keys checked in with 892 mb or 26.35″.   Hurricane Andrew registered 922 mb at landfall near Miami in 1992 and I believe that Katrina checked in at 920 mb when it was offshore but had a considerably higher central pressure at landfall.   Extreme winds associated with such low pressure make measuring velocity difficult as anemometers tend to blow away or power supplies to measuring devices often fail.  But, the SS Cristobal anchored in Pilottown, LA estimated winds of 160 mph.  Overall, maximum sustained winds estimated for Hurricane Camille were estimated to be 180 to 190 mph with gusts of 210 to 220 mph.  Keep in mind that a tornado designated as EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale has winds of 166-200 mph.  The highest rating for a tornado on the EF scale is EF-5 with winds of over 200 mph.  Hurricane Camille was much larger than any tornado yet its top winds approached those of the most destructive tornado. 

Top computer generated image shows new eyewall forming around contracting old eyewall; bottom shows new eyewall

While Katriana and Camille both were category 5 hurricanes on the Saffir Simpson Scale at one time, Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph.   Camille slammed the coast at full fury.  It is very rare for a hurricane to make landfall in the United States as a category 5 hurricane.  Only Camille in 1969, Andrew in 1992(FL landfall) and the unnamed Florida Keys Hurricane in 1935 hold such a distinction on the list of most intense hurricane to strike the United States.  While it is uncertain why several storms have weakened prior to landfall, I believe part of the reason is happenstance.  It is very difficult for a hurricane to maintain maximum strength for long.  Absolute perfect conditions must exist for a hurricane to reach such a level and as time goes by, those conditions change.  Also, there is a natural life-cycle to a tropical cyclone in which, when it reaches its top strength, there is something called an eyewall replacement cycle.  The initial eyewall collapses toward the center and a new eyewall forms.  During this process, the central pressure will tend to rise and the winds decrease.  Hurricane Katrina was in the midst of an eyewall replacement cycle when it made landfall which is why it did not hit Mississippi at maximum intensity.   However, it has been my  observation that when a hurricane goes through the cycle, the energy gets expanded from the center and so, while the winds at the core may be decreased, winds at the extremities seem to be stronger than normally anticipated.  In the case of Katrina, the winds near Mobile at Dauphin Island, AL were clocked at 105 mph; that is not much of a lapse from the maximum winds. 

Storm Surge Map Hurricane Camille 1969

Storm surge take time to react to changes in wind speed.  So, while the pressure rose and winds fell off with Katrina, the forward momentum of the storm in conjunction with the storms previous winds of 175 mph resulted in a storm surge consistent with a category 5 hurricane and not a category 3.  I’ve never done a study on the subject before, but I hypothesize that the part of the United States perhaps most vulnerable to a high storm surge is the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  As we have seen with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the water gets very deep very quickly off the coast.  The Deepwater Horizon was located only about 65 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River but it was in some 5000 feet of water.  The area is known as the Mississippi Canyon and depths just off the mouth of the Mississippi River approach 10,000 feet in some spots.  Conversely, the Mississippi Bay is extremely shallow.  So, when the volume of water shoved up from the Gulf comes ashore in Mississippi, it is trapped by the bay and has nowhere to go but up.  With Hurricane Camille, a maximum storm surge of 24.6 feet was recorded near Pass Christian, MS. 

Most of Metairie Was Not As Fortunate As My Aunt

I have family in New Orleans. I was born there.  I know the city.  On the Friday prior to Katrina’s landfall, I called my aunt in Metairie and told her that the storm would hit Mississippi; I told her if I was wrong, then it would be farther east.  The laws of physics and atmospheric conditions told me that it would not hit New Orleans.  However, I warned her that I could not be certain if they would not get affected by the western eyewall or how the levees would hold.  I suggested that she go visit my parents in Houston.  She was reluctant, saying that her house was 8 feet above see level on the Metairie Ridge and that her house never flooded.  I reminded her that, be that as it may, she would be out of power for weeks and nothing would be more miserable than being in New Orleans with no air conditioner.  She finally relented on Sunday and it took her 18 hours.  As it turns out, she was right.  Her home had little or no damage.  Just a mile or so down the road, the homes not on the ridge were irrepairably flooded. 

Click on Map for Times-Picayune Slide Show of Katrina New Orleans Flooding

You see, while New Orleans was not hit by a hurricane and did not receive the full storm surge and Katrina could not match the intensity of Hurricane Camille, it was a much larger storm.  The push of the water to the west,  was enhanced initially by the large wind field and the east wind ahead of Katrina.  As the storm went by the progression of the surge that led to the flooding of New Orleans continued with additional surge that went up Lake Borgne, through the Intercoastal Waterway and toward the Industrial Canal.  I speculate that the surge of Katrina was greater than Camille due to its size.  The surge along the Mississippi Coast was between 20 and 30 feet.  I know for sure, that I told Snow  White on Sunday night prior to Katrina’s landfall that “alot of people are going to die tonight.”  I know that I told my friend and co-anchor, Steve Burgin, the same thing.  Snow White says that I said it on the air.  I’m not so sure that I did.

Before and After View of the Richelieu Apartments Where A Hurricane Party Was Supposedly Held; As the Story goes-one person survived by floating out of a 2nd story window before the building collapsed

But, the reason that I knew that was because it had been so long since Hurricane Camille, that most people did not remember Camille.  I was a kid in 1969 and we were supposed to go to a family reunion in Biloxi but Biloxi was blown and washed away. We drove to Mobile Bay and the Grand Hotel at Point Clear, AL a month after the storm.  I saw the fishing boats on the other side of the highway after Camille.  I saw the empty space were homes and businesses used to be.  Interstate 10 was not complete yet and we had to divert way north to Poplarville, MS and I remember that far inland all of the trees laid over like matchsticks and the utter devastation to Poplarville that was 40 miles inland.  I rememberd how large ocean going freighters were stuck on the beach and saw a giant beached barge.  I remembered the story of the infamous hurricane party supposedly held at the Richelieu Apartments

Flooding In Richmond, VA From Hurricane Camille

Most of the people who lived there in 2005 were not aware of Hurricane Camille.  Certainly, the developers of all of those casinos that the legislature determined could not be on land did not learn any lessons from Hurricane Camille in 1969.  Camille killed some 267 people, though many were killed in Virginia and West Virginia from flooding.  In fact, rainfall from Camille  in parts of the Virginia’s  approached 25 inches.   Due in large part to the flooding in New Orleans, somewhere between 1000 and 2000 died from Katrina, yet I”m afraid that to some degree, the lessons from Katrina could be forgotten just as they were with Camille.  The greatest that I can think of is that no one seems to want to admit that Hurricane Katrina did not hit New Orleans.  Some folks along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2005 had no clue of what was about to hit them.   I’m afraid that, even though Katrina utterly devastated New Orleans, it will be lost on public officials and residents that it could be far worse.  It is quite unsettling to think of what a Hurricane Camille striking Southeast Louisiana from the Southwest with 200 mph winds would do to the Crescent City.

Weather Bottom Line:  I saw over the weekend a forecast that called for temperatures in the 90’s this week which tells me that person’s abilities are limited.  Upper 80’s is the story as a frontal boundary came through followed by  a secondary push of drier air.  That front to the south didn’t go to far and tomorrow we have a wave running up along that boundary which may overrun our area and give us a chance for rain.  I’m still not so sure that the remnant of Tropical Depression 5 is not going to help bring us some moisture too this week.  Anyway, the humidity should slowly return as the week progresses and we probably will eventually get back to the low 90’s by the end of the week as a warm front moves north on Friday or Saturday in advance of an oncoming cold front.  It’s not that great of a front except that it will reinforce the fairly comfortable conditions we have with bearable humidity and highs around 90.  Sunday looks to be the better of the weekend as rain chances should be off the board.