With each hour Isaac seems more likely to impact the Gulf Coast near New Orleans. It’s tough to hear that and not think of what happened seven years ago. That scenario is repeatable, but each storm is different. Certainly Isaac and Katrina are very different.
The Hurricane Center lists Isaac at 70 mph, just below hurricane strength. This afternoon a Hurricane Hunter airplane spotted 74 knot (85 mph) winds at around 5,000 feet. Surface wind would be lower. Objective satellite analysis this morning at 10:00 AM from the University of Wisconsin (they are the kings of satellite analysis and interpretation) pegged Isaac at 50 knots (58 mph).
Maybe it’s 70 mph, maybe it’s less. It makes little difference. Isaac is moving over warm, open water.
STRENGTHENING IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE RIGHT UP UNTIL LANDFALL OCCURS DUE TO THE VERY WARM WATERS THE CYCLONE WILL BE PASSING OVER AND THE VERY FAVORABLE UPPER-LEVEL OUTFLOW REGIME THAT ISAAC IS FORECAST TO DEVELOP BY 24 HOURS.
Let’s step back seven years for a second. Where was the worst wind damage from Katrina? Not New Orleans! Wind damage was worst on the Mississippi Coast.
New Orleans dodged the bullet on classical hurricane damage. Instead New Orleans suffered a failure of human design which came long after the storm was gone and the wind had mainly subsided.
Please read this blog entry I wrote early on the morning of August 30, 2005. It was when the outside world first heard a hint of what would become New Orleans’ plight.
A weaker storm would mean less water pushed up the Mississippi to levees now hardened (a little). That is my hope. That’s not a certainty.
As I said, Katrina and Isaac are very different. All sorts of stuff can go wrong that didn’t go wrong last time. New Orleans could get more wind. I am worried Isaac’s forward speed will slow down Tuesday night meaning a longer period of tropical weather conditions and the problems that brings.
Here in Connecticut the longer sustained period of easterly winds over Long Island Sound with Irene added to coastal flooding and structural damage.
Most likely landfall is Wendesday morning. Isaac will bring pain.