Today’s factismal: Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
There’s no doubt about it; 2005 was a record year for hurricanes. In the Pacific basin, there were 39 named storms, 20 hurricanes, 5 five major hurricanes. (Yes, they call them “typhoons”, but they are the same phenomenon.) In the Atlantic basin, there were 28 named storms, 15 hurricanes, and 7 major hurricanes. And one of those seven major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin was Katrina. Katrina would be the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, with a price tag of $108 billion and a death toll of 1,245. Though most of that damage centered on New Orleans, Katrina’s trail of devastation stretched from the Bahamas to Ohio. But New Orleans was the worst casualty. Plagued by run-down infrastructure and stripped of the delta by decades of channel dredging, the city was wrecked after the storm.
At that, New Orleans got lucky with Katrina. Had the storm remained a 5, instead of dropping in intensity as it reached land, then the wind and debris damage would have been much worse. Had Katrina approached on the east side of new orleans, instead of the west, then the levees would have failed earlier and more conclusively. And had Katrina come on New Orleans during a Spring tide (an unusually high tide) instead of during low tide, even the French Quarter would have been inundated. But lucky or not, Katrina did more damage in less time than any other storm in US history.
Much of the damage was inevitable. But much of it could have been avoided with better forecasts. What the meteorologists needed was more observations in order to give better predictions. What they needed was people like the members of the Citizen Weather Observer Program who send in reports about severe weather (and the other kind, too) that is then used to make better predictions. If you think that you’ve got what it takes to be a CWOP member, head over to: