Thursday, August 31, 2006

Here's why New Orleans didn't flee Katrina

Tropical Storm Ernesto faked out the forecasters.

And it could easily happen again, says Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center.

"The simple truth is there are some processes in hurricanes that we don't understand yet," particularly storm intensity, he said. "I want people to understand: This is the state of the science."

Forecasters predicted Ernesto would ram South Florida with near-hurricane force and up to 15 inches of rain. But it brought little more than drizzly, gusty weather.

Based on those forecasts, businesses, government offices, airports and schools shut down or scaled back on Tuesday and Wednesday. Residents put up shutters, waited in long lines for gas and jammed grocery stores.

Faked out. This happens on the Gulf coast. Get faked out once you feel bad. Get faked out twice, you get aggravated. Get faked out time & time again - you decide to "ride it out."

This is precisely what happened in New Orleans. Through the years forecasters have predicted the Crescent City would be slammed. It never was. The storm always fizzled. The storm always veered and hit Texas to the west or Mississippi to the east. It always happened this way. Tens of thousands of South Louisiana residents will back me up.

As we commemorate Katrina's one year anniversary and question why on Earth would anyone decide to "ride out" a hurricane - I give you Ernesto.

But there was an injury. A woman slipped on a slightly wet sidewalk.