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Context of '6:30 pm EDT August 26, 2005: National TV News Programs Report that Hurricane Katrina Threatens New Orleans; Recall Hurricane Camille'

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In its eight advisory, The National Hurricane Center (NHC) retains the hurricane warning for southeast Florida, and tropical storm watches and warnings elsewhere, noting that the storm continues to strengthen. Models continue to agree Katrina will travel westward across the southern Florida peninsula for next 48 hours or so, but continue to diverge significantly in forecasting when and where Katrina will move north towards Florida panhandle or northwest Florida. One model indicates Katrina will move across northeast Florida, while another indicates Katrina will hit the western Florida panhandle. Katrina could still become a Category 1 hurricane prior to Florida landfall, and expected to re-strengthen after entering the Gulf of Mexico. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 26.2 N, 79.3 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West at 6 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 60 mph
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 997 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet West Palm Beach, FL: 99 percent
bullet Panama City, FL: 13 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 7 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 5 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that Katrina has regained hurricane strength upon leaving Florida and entering the Gulf of Mexico. NHC expects Katrina to continue, with slight increase in speed, over next 24 hours. Models generally agree that Katrina will migrate westward, gradually turning northwest. The “consensus” of models has shifted westward. Indications are now stronger that Katrina will be a dangerous hurricane in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico within the next couple of days. The official forecast indicates Katrina winds will strengthen to 100 mph, although two models forecast a major hurricane. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 25.3 N, 81.5W
bullet Direction and Speed: Due west at near 5 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 75 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 987 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 17 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 11 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 8 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina will make landfall in Louisiana in only 72 hours, and critics will later charge that, by failing to call for an evacuation at this hour, local and state officials fail to execute their own emergency plans properly. Other critics will question why the federal government does focus efforts towards Louisiana and, particularly, the New Orleans area today. However, at this hour, Katrina has just reconstituted as a Category 1 hurricane, and it appears more likely to head towards the Florida Panhandle (Northeastern Gulf Coast than towards Louisiana. Indeed, the first National Hurricane Center Advisory to indicate that Katrina threatens New Orleans is still several hours away (see 10:00 am August 26, 2005), and, according to its own reports, FEMA has not yet activated the Region 6 Response Coordination Center, which serves Louisiana.
Note 1 - The particular plan(s) implemented by local, state, and national officials during this crisis remains unclear. While various government websites contain several “plans,” it is not clear that the posted plans are the operative documents at this time, and some reports indicate that officials are operating under another plan (or plans). [Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005]
Note 2 - Contrary to many published reports, the New Orleans Emergency Plan for Hurricane Evacuations (NOLA Plan), or the version of this Plan available online, does not require evacuation 72 hours in advance of all hurricanes, and does not address the concept of “mandatory” evacuations at all. Rather, the Plan contemplates a maximum time of 72 hours to prepare for a hurricane. The NOLA Plan contemplates that, “Slow developing weather conditions (primarily hurricane) will create increased readiness culminating in an evacuation order 24 hours (12 daylight hours) prior to predicted landfall.” [City of New Orleans, n.d.] In another place, the NOLA Plan states as follows: “Using information developed as part of the Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force and other research, the City of New Orleans has established a maximum acceptable hurricane evacuation time standard for a Category 3 storm event of 72 hours. This is based on clearance time or is the time required to clear all vehicles evacuating in response to a hurricane situation from area roadways. Clearance time begins when the first evacuating vehicle enters the road network and ends when the last evacuating vehicle reaches its destination.” The NOLA Plan continues: “Evacuation notices or orders will be issued during three stages prior to gale force winds making landfall.”
bullet Precautionary Evacuation Notice: 72 hours or less
bullet Special Needs Evacuation Order: 8-12 hours after Precautionary Evacuation Notice issued
bullet General Evacuation Notice: 48 hours or less [City of New Orleans, n.d.]
Note 3 - The two Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Evacuation and Sheltering Plans posted on the Louisiana State website each reference a table which “give[s] information on the times at which action to evacuate people must be taken if the total number of people in the risk area is to be evacuated in Category 3 (Slow), 4 and 5 hurricanes” for parishes in Southeastern Louisiana. However, the referenced table is missing from the plans. [Louisiana, 1/2000 pdf file; Louisiana, 1/2000 pdf file] Therefore, the timetable contemplated under these plans for implementing evacuation orders remains unclear.

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, City of New Orleans, Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, reports on the latest modeling: “Although Katrina is currently moving just south of due west, the computer track models unanimously agree that a trough moving across the central US this weekend will ‘pick up’ Katrina and force it on a northward path towards the Florida Panhandle.… While New Orleans [certainly] needs to keep a wary eye on Katrina, it seems that the Florida Panhandle has its usual hurricane magnet in place, and the same piece of coast punished by Ivan and Dennis is destined for another strike by a major hurricane.” [Masters, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Jeff Matthews

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Katrina gains strength as it moves westward away from Florida, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The NHC expects Katrina to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane by Saturday. Most of the models indicate that Katrina’s path will flatten out in more westward direction over next 12 hours. Two models indicate “large jump” west over Louisiana, while most other models indicate Katrina will move inland over the Northeast Gulf Coast. The NHC expects Katrina to strengthen into a major hurricane. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 25.1 N, 82.2 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West at near 7 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 80 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 981 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 18 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 12 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 10 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that Katrina, now a Category 2 hurricane, continues to move west-southwest away from Florida, and is expected to gradually turn west on Saturday. Models have now shifted significantly westward. The NHC states that the “projected landfall is still about 72 hours away.” (In fact, Katrina will make landfall in only 55 hours.) The NHC expects that Katrina will strengthen over the next 24 hours, becoming a Category 3—or major—hurricane later today, and may be a Category 4 hurricane at landfall. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 24.8 N, 82.9 W (approximately 70 miles west-northwest of Key West, Florida)
bullet Direction and Speed: West-southwest at near 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 100 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 965 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from the center up to 25 miles; and tropical storm force winds extend up to 85 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 17 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 16 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 15 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, reports that the latest computer models indicate, “the threat of a strike on New Orleans by Katrina as a major hurricane has grown. The official NHC forecast is now 170 miles west of where it was at 11am, and still is to the east of the consensus model guidance. It would be no surprise if later advisories shift the forecast track even further west and put Katrina over New Orleans. Until Katrina makes its northward turn, I would cast a very doubtful eye on the model predictions of Katrina’s track.” [Masters, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

CBS News reports that new models indicate that Katrina may shift west towards New Orleans. Noting that New Orleans is “among one of the most vulnerable hurricane places, if not the most vulnerable in the country,” the reporter reminds viewers that although hurricanes generally weaken before hitting land, “Hurricane Camille didn’t in ‘69; there’s no guarantee that this one will. This could very well be a Category 4.” [CBS News, 8/26/2005] ABC News contains a similar report tonight, nothing that Katrina could hit near New Orleans and be a catastrophic hurricane. [ABC, 8/26/2005] MSNBC reports that four out of five computer models indicate that Katrina will hit between New Orleans and the Mississippi-Alabama Border. [MSNBC, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Camille, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that Katrina continues to move west-southwest, but will likely turn west, then west-northwest on Saturday. Katrina is following the typical pattern observed in intense hurricanes, and likely will become a Category 4 hurricane. Indeed, some models indicate it could become a Category 5 hurricane. NHC warns, “most of the reliable numerical model tracks are now clustered between the eastern coast of Louisiana and the coast of Mississippi.” The official forecast indicates that Katrina will move over the north central Gulf of Mexico in approximately 48 hours. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 24.6 N, 83.6 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West-southwest at 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 105 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 965 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from the center up to 25 miles; and tropical storm force winds extend up to 85 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 15 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 18 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 17 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) expands the hurricane watch westward to Intracoastal City, Louisiana and eastward to the Florida-Alabama border, and states that a hurricane warning likely will be required for portions of the Northern Gulf Coast later tonight or Sunday. Landfall in southeast Louisiana is likely in “a little under” 48 hours. (In fact, Katrina will make landfall in 32 hours .) According to the NHC, Katrina will likely strengthen, and may become a Category 5 hurricane before landfall. Katrina likely will move west-northwest during the next 24 hours. Models continue to diverge, with some indicating Katrina will turn northward, while others indicate Katrina will shift westward. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 380 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West at 7 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 115 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 945 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 45 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 160 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 12 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 20 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 21 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

“Katrina is in the midst of a truly historic rapid deepening phase… [and] is now the sixth strongest hurricane ever measured in the Atlantic,” states Jeff Matthews, meteorologist with the Weather Underground. “At the rate Katrina is deepening, she could easily be the third or fourth most intense hurricane ever, later today.” Katrina’s “winds are likely to increase to ‘catch up’ to the rapidly falling pressure, and could approach the all-time record of 190 mph set in Camille and Allen. Winds of this level will create maximum storm surge heights over 25 feet, and this storm surge will affect an area at least double the area wiped clean by Camille, which was roughly half the size of Katrina. Katrina has continued to expand in size, and is now a huge hurricane like Ivan. Damage will be very widespread and extreme if Katrina can maintain Category 5 strength at landfall.” Masters warns that, “Given that the storm is so large and is already pushing up a huge storm surge wave in front of it, even a weakened Category 3 Katrina hitting at low tide will cause an incredible amount of damage. A stretch of coast 170 miles long will experience hurricane force winds, given the current radius of hurricane force winds around the storm. A direct hit on New Orleans in this best-case scenario may still be enough to flood the city, resulting in heavy loss of life and $30 billion or more in damage.” [Masters, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Camille, Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Allen, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warns that Katrina, already a potentially catastrophic hurricane headed for the Northern Gulf Coast, continues to gain strength. Katrina is getting stronger-and bigger. The NHC notes that Katrina is now as strong as Hurricane Camille was in 1969, only larger, and warns that storm surge flooding will be 18-22 feet above normal, with surges to 28 feet in some areas. Although hurricanes rarely sustain these extreme winds for long, the NHC reports no obvious large-scale effects that could cause Katrina to weaken substantially. Katrina’s path likely will move northwest, then north-northwest over the next 24 hours. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 225 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West-northwest at 12 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 175 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 907 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane winds now extend 105 miles from the center; tropical storm force winds extend to 205 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 12 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 33 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 35 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Camille, National Hurricane Center

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

According to one report, approximately 70 percent of New Orleans fire fighters, fire officers and their families will lose their homes and belongings because of Hurricane Katrina. [International Association of Fire Fighters, 1/21/2006]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

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