Comments Posted By B Herms
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1000 year perfect storm

The folks that surmise that New Orleans got a break, and were spared the worst, are wrong as I see it. They say the storm weakened, but of course it did as it came over land. New Orleans is well inland. This was the 4th lowest recorded pressure in history as it approached, and it was huge and fairly slow moving. Forecaters I read were surprised how well it was holding together as it came in. This powerful a storm occurs once in maybe 20 years. (of the other 3 low pressures, one was 1935)

They say the storm veered away at the last moment, but I think this is like a top hitting a wall. As the storm came across land, the north part got some traction on the land. And actually, the winds weren't the devastating part, it was the surge of course. The nightmare scenario as I understand, had the track go a little east of New Orleans, where the strong winds from the left side of the storm would be from the north, pushing water out of Lake Pontchartrain, over the levees, and into the city.

So if I say this hit within 10 miles of the "perfect nightmare scenario" spot, then divide all the landfall coastline into 10 mile "target zones", we can figure the odds of it hitting this one. Andrew hit the west side of Florida. Gilbert hit the Yucatan, Camille hit MS ... just call it 100 zones for simplicity. So the odds of a storm this strong hitting just to the east of New Orleans are 20 times 100 equals one in 2000. The city has been there since early 1700 with no record of such a storm, so actual history shows one in 300 years if that is correct.

That is little comfort to those that lost homes or loved ones, but it does change the perspective, and maybe puts pretty high up in the incredible natural disaster category. All life saving projects are based on a cost/benefit analysis ... protecting from a once in a thousand year event like this is seldom practical. Even at that, if this one (recently upgraded) levee hadn't failed, things may have been much better, though I think New Orleans east may have filled anyway. Early shots from there showed water pouring out of New Orleans East, over the levee.


Comment Posted By B Herms On 7.09.2005 @ 13:20


Well, at last look, best I could tell, the water was equalized ar the break in the levee. An earlier shot it looked like it was flowing out. I think the lake has dropped to closer to normal, one foot above sea level.

I've lost some confidence in the army corps of engineers, at least the guys talking on CNN. The last one said they were thinking of closing off the whole 17 st canal (this after the flow has stopped?). They need that canal for discharge from the pumps. The guy before said the whole city is 18 feet below sea level (the low parts are 3 to 6 feet below). I hope the smart guys are so busy that they are sending the bozo's off to talk on CNN. Just my opinion. (Times Picayune site) said in Orleans the water level is stable or falling, in Jefferson (to the west) it is rising. Lotsa work ahead ... I guess sending money to the honest organizations is the best thing to do ... glad you and michele and all are working to find the good charities


Comment Posted By B Herms On 31.08.2005 @ 18:57

Hey Rick,

I think some areas have "puddles" in them that aren't draining. That is why some of the French Quarter may be ankle deep, by my estimation. That map I linked to puts the quarter at 1 to 16 feet, so even at lake level it would be ok.

I guess the people in the middle of this aren't getting the news anyway, so it probably won't cause panic, but it still seems irresponsible to say they are all about to be inundated when they are actually ok, at least from a flood water point of view.

I keep thinking they should sink a couple loaded barges in the opening, which is maybe their plan, but it ain't happening. Not an easy situation though ...

Comment Posted By B Herms On 31.08.2005 @ 11:59

Even with the levee break, I don't get these reports of 12 - 15 feet of water in the entire city. Parts of New Orleans are 3-6 feet below sea level, the Times-Picayune said yesterday the lake level was at 6 feet, which is still 5 feet above normal. So at MOST, the lowest areas of the city would be at 12 feet deep if the lake didn't go lower (which it should) and the water completely equalized with the lake (which it shouldn't) Areas like the French Quarter that are 4-8 feet above will stay largely dry, by my calculations.

The reports of up to 20 feet of water in places now makes no sense, unless they are counting underpasses or canals. Around the superdome is a low area, and it is only knee deep last I saw.

It seems to me this is a case of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. There are scenes showed repeatedly where water is flowing from the "lake" that has houses in it into the waterways that have bridges in them. In other words, the storm surge water is flowing out of some of these neighborhoods.
that has pics of New Orleans elevations, if you can piece the link together ...

I lived 3 blocks from the lake for 15 years, and sat out a couple close calls there, and most of my friends are still there, so I am not down playing the current situation. I'm just wishing there wasn't additional drama being put in to the story, adding to emotional distress.

But I could be wrong.


Comment Posted By B Herms On 31.08.2005 @ 11:13



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