Monday, September 13, 2004

RIGHT INTO THE THE DANGER ZONE
- Kenny Loggins, from soundtrack of Top Gun

That was a headline I used once back during winter storm season, but I think it is appropriate now. You've no doubt learned Ivan is back to Category 5, meaning the eyewall replacement cycle apparently completed last night and winds are up to 160 mph. This storm is beginning to take on a "strength of Charley and size of Frances" configuration as labeled by Accuweather.

My major concern is starting to play out. The post from last night said: "If Ivan the monster misses Cuba, travels through the Yucatan channel, and takes a more gradual turn to the north, New Orleans and the Mississippi Sound may well be in the target zone for landfall. A further shift to the west of the "uncertainty" cone to fully encompass eastern Louisiana, with the Appalachee Bay on the very eastern fringe of the cone will be the reality check for city managers of New Orleans. "

Let's put the risk to New Orleans in perspective. You can see that NHC has shifted the cone well to the west, fully encompassing the Lake Ponchartrain area on the left and terminating just above Tampa Bay on the right. It is a known fact that 72 hours is required to fully evacuate New Orleans and surrounding areas. This is because there are only 4 main routes out of town, THREE of which are bridges over water or very close to water:
- The Lake Ponchartrain Causeway proceeds north directly over the lake.
- Route 10 and 55 split near La Place, with 10 continuing west and 55 north. But 55 proceeds in between Lakes Ponchartrain to the east and Maurepas to the west.
- Route 10 East proceeds northeast over the Lake as do two smaller routes, 90 and 11.

With a major hurricane churning northward in the Gulf, swells and wave action will increase well in advance of the storm. What if Ivan continues playing the hard to get game, and keeping everyone guessing as to it's final trajectory right to the end? Imagine the fright and panic of many when there is still 24 hours before the storm's arrival, and major evacuation routes out of New Orleans are flooded due to overwash and swells. This one of the many reasons why this city is at high risk for a major catastrophe someday.

The bottom line for today?
Ivan is going to flucuate right around the cusp of Category 5, which I hope spurns people in the NO, LA to Panama City, FL area including Biloxi, Gulfport and Pensacola to seriously consider evacuation procedures. Every mile it drifts westward, and delays the northward turn, eastern Louisiana is at more and more risk of landfall by a major hurricane. But for it appears the Pensacola area is in the danger zone.

The next update will be late this afternoon following the 5pm advisory.
Continuing checking the tropical links to the left for current details.

No comments: