There is a phrase used in journalism when you take the most important part of a story and overshadow it with something less important. That’s what’s going on with the Weather Service’s forecast for New Orleans.
Occasional showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Hello? You’re forecasting a hurricane for heaven’s sake. And, you’re forecasting it in, arguably, the most susceptible place in the country.
In the forecasters defense, what you read is a product of a semi automated process which puts words to forecast parameters… still. This way a forecaster can write lots of different pinpoint forecasts based on wide area information.
Let me use that word again… still!
Hurricane Katrina has strengthened, but not as much as would be anticipated. There are odd signs.
All that aside, conditions in the Gulf are so strongly favorable for development that short term fluctuations or even developmental weakness should be disregarded. At least that’s how it looks this morning.
It’s always possible, after the fact, things like the flight level wind will be looked at as a sign we saw and missed.
There’s not much surface data coming in now from the area near Katrina. The highest wind I can find is ‘only’ a 45 knot (about 52 mph) gust at a buoy (the 30 foot tall one in the photo on the left) located about 300 miles south of Panama City, FL. The buoy is rolling in 25 foot waves, in the 86° water.
Right now I’m scared for New Orleans.