It APPEARS at the moment that as bad as things may get in central Louisiana Monday night or Tuesday, the major population centers of New Orleans and Lake Charles may end up receiving “only” category 1 or 2 winds instead of the potential category 4 where Gustov makes landfall. This doesn’t mean that there will not be great hardship in certain places, for there is bound to be with any hurricane, it just means that it looks now like New Orleans will not face the dire consequences Katrina brought.
For the thousands of Katrina survivors still living in travel trailers and other temporary housing, Gustov might as well make landfall on top of them. Those living in such structures must be evacuated for even category 1 winds can rip a small travel trailer to shreds. It is unfortunate that there are still people living in housing the vast majority of Americans use only for a weekend at the lake or a week of deer hunting. But, the facts are that trailers offer little or no protection from hurricanes or their associated tornadoes.
For anyone the least bit interested in weather, the amazing intensification of Gustov over the past twenty four hours is beyond description. How a storm goes from being a strong tropical storm to a category 4, almost category 5 hurricane in twenty four hours is mind boggling. It just goes to show why hurricanes should never be taken lightly and those living in areas affected by hurricanes MUST live with the understanding they might lose everything during any given storm.
As Gustov rips apart central Louisiana, Hanna will become a hurricane off the east coast of Florida. It APPEARS now that it will curve northeast and affect eastern Florida all the way to the Carolinas instead of following Gustov into the Gulf Coast. This is good news for places like Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida who only yesterday looked to be in Hanna’s crosshairs, but is bad news for a whole new set of cities.
It is far too early to know if Hanna will re-curve and head out to the Atlantic or hug the east coast of Florida and hit South Carolina. As Hanna develops it should become a huge storm whose impact should be felt over a wide geographical area. Needless to say, people in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as well as all along the North Carolina coast need to keep an eye on Hanna as she goes from being a tropical storm to a hurricane the next five days.
Looking far out in the Atlantic, hurricane Ike (not named yet) APPEARS to forming off the coast of Africa. Storms that form there take forever to cross the Atlantic and many times re-curve harmlessly into the middle of the ocean. But, there are a fair number of them who hold together and as they get closer to North America they strengthen into monster East Coast storms. Hurricane Ike, if he forms and makes it this far, is the first storm this year with the potential to cause havoc along the coasts of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and points northeast.
So, in the space of the first two weeks of September, we could very easily see major hurricanes affecting the Gulf Coast, Florida and the lower Southeast Coast and Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Coasts. Talk about a mess; what if we had three Katrina-like storms to deal with? Resources are already stretched thin now. If there were three separate storm locations it would be a disaster relief nightmare.
Before even thinking about Ike, or even Hanna we must get through with Gustov and whatever he brings to whomever he brings it to. We should have a very clear idea of where Gustov will hit by Sunday afternoon. Needless to say, that is not enough time for masses of people to evacuate any area. If in doubt leave now and go see some relatives for the next few days. I have heard that most motels in LA, MS and AL are booked solid so that leaves points further north.
Anyone with interests in south central Louisiana needs to “leave the building NOW”. As I heard one forecaster say; Lafayette, Louisiana is not a place to be visiting Monday night and Tuesday of this week. I am sure the same thing will be said in another few days about Hanna’s anticipated landfall and perhaps a week later for Ike’s.