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Profile: National Weather Service

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A new computer model developed by the National Weather Service suggests that most areas inside and outside the levees in New Orleans and vicinity would be flooded if a slow-moving Category 2 hurricane were to make landfall at New Orleans. Under certain conditions, even a Category 1 could submerge the city in as much as 9 feet of water, the model predicts. The model, named SLOSH, an acronym for Sea, Lake and Overland Surge from Hurricanes, factors in the effects of Louisiana’s eroding coastline. [Times-Picayune, 6/25/2004]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Alabama Governor Bob Riley offers Louisiana Governor Blanco and Mississippi Governor Barbour assistance if necessary, upon reviewing this morning’s National Weather Service report showing that Katrina’s most serious impact will most likely be in Louisiana and Mississippi. [Alabama, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Bob Riley, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Haley Barbour, National Weather Service

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Minutes after the National Hurricane Center issues its Advisory, the National Weather Service for New Orleans issues an urgent weather message, “Devastating Damage Expected,” which could not be more stark: “Hurricane Katrina [is] a most powerful hurricane with unprecedented strength…rivaling the intensity of Hurricane Camille of 1969. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks…perhaps longer. At least one half of well constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail…leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed. The majority of industrial buildings will become non functional. Partial to complete wall and roof failure is expected. All wood framed low rising apartment buildings will be destroyed. Concrete block low rise apartments will sustain major damage…including some wall and roof failure. High rise office and apartment buildings will sway dangerously…a few to the point of total collapse. All windows will blow out. Airborne debris will be widespread…and may include heavy items such as household appliances and even light vehicles. Sport utility vehicles and light trucks will be moved. The blown debris will create additional destruction. Persons…pets…and livestock exposed to the winds will face certain death if struck. Power outages will last for weeks…as most power poles will be down and transformers destroyed. Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards. The vast majority of native trees will be snapped or uprooted. Only the heartiest will remain standing…but be totally defoliated. Few crops will remain. Livestock left exposed to the winds will be killed. An inland hurricane wind warning is issued when sustained winds near hurricane force…or frequent gusts at or above hurricane force…are certain within the next 12 to 24 hours. Once tropical storm and hurricane force winds onset…do not venture outside!” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005; National Weather Service, 9/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Camille, National Weather Service

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Weather Service’s New Orleans local weather statement reiterates the stark warnings announced yesterday: “Direct strike of potentially catastrophic and life threatening hurricane expected late tonight and early Monday.” The Statement recommends the following actions: “Protect you and your family. Follow local emergency managers recommendations. With the approach of hurricane force winds and heavy squalls people are urged to seek refuge of last resort in strong…well constructed buildings. If life threatening storm surge flooding develops…move to higher floors or house attics. Bring tools to make an emergency exit should these higher floors or attics become inundated.” [National Weather Service (Birmingham), 8/29/2005; Wall Street Journal, 9/12/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The New Orleans Local Weather Statement issued by the National Weather Service states that the eye of Hurricane Katrina is now less than 70 miles from New Orleans. “Severe tidal flooding will also develop along low lying areas surrounding Lake Pontchartrain…with severe inundation likely.… Severe storm surge flooding is expected develop through the remainder of the morning…with highest values along the Louisiana coast east of the Mississippi River…Mississippi coast…and along the shore line of Lake Pontchartrain and Maurepas.” [National Weather Service (Birmingham), 8/29/2005; Wall Street Journal, 9/12/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Weather Service (NWS) issues a flash flood warning for Orleans Parish, reporting that a breach has occurred along the Industrial Canal at Tennessee Street. It expects three to eight feet of flooding due to the breach. The warning includes New Orleans, including the 9th Ward, St. Bernard Parish, Chalmette, and Arabi. The NWS urges residents to “[m]ove to higher ground. A flash flood warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring. If you are in the warning area move to higher ground immediately.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/12/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Weather Service’s Local Weather Statement for New Orleans advises that the eye of Hurricane Katrina is in eastern St. Bernard and Orleans Parishes, packing sustained winds near 135 mph, with higher gusts. A storm surge of 10 to 12 feet will be occurring in the southwest part of Lake Pontchartrain affecting the east banks of Jefferson, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and Livingston parishes. “Severe storm surge flooding is expected develop through the remainder of the morning… with highest values along the Louisiana coast east of the Mississippi River…Mississippi coast…and along the shore line of Lake Pontchartrain and Maurepas.” [National Weather Service (Birmingham), 8/29/2005; Wall Street Journal, 9/12/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

“Although the damage will be incredible, it could have been much, much worse,” states Jeff Matthews, meteorologist with the Weather Underground. Masters notes, however, that the National Weather Service “is reporting that the levees in Orleans and St Bernard parishes have been overtopped by the storm surge, and there are reports of life-threatening flooding, roof damage, and building collapses in the city.” Masters warns that “Bay Saint Louis, Biloxi, and Gulfport Mississippi will take the full force of Katrina’s right eyewall, and a storm surge of 15-20 feet is likely along the west and central Mississippi coast.” Masters closes his post with a personal note: “A special thanks need to be given to the Air Force Hurricane Hunters based at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, who have flown Katrina around the clock while their families remained on the ground in Biloxi. Biloxi will suffer Katrina’s harshest blow, and many of the Hurricane Hunters will see their homes destroyed or heavily damaged.” [Masters, 8/29/2005] Tomorrow morning, Masters will recall the initial relief after Hurricane Andrew: “As news reports begin to filter in from the hardest hit areas, the scope of Katrina’s destruction is slowly being realized. Remember in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, how there was a lot of relief about how much worse it could have been, and how well Miami fared? This cheerfulness faded once the search teams penetrated to Homestead and found the near-total devastation there [W]ith a two block long breach in the Lake Pontchartrain levee allowing the entire City of New Orleans to flood today, we are witnessing a natural disaster of the scope unseen in America since the great 1938 Hurricane devastated New England, killing 600. Damage from Katrina will probably top $50 billion, and the death toll will be in the hundreds.” [Masters, 8/30/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service, Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Andrew, Keesler Air Force Base, Air Force Hurricane Hunters

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Weather Service’s local weather statement for New Orleans announces that “A significant and life threatening storm surge estimated around 20 feet has occurred with Katrina…causing levees to be overtopped in Orleans and St Bernard parishes. In addition, dangerous battering waves are occurring on top of the storm surge near the coast severe tidal flooding will continue in these areas for several more hours. Significant flooding is also occurring along the Mississippi Gulf Coast over Hancock…Harrison and Jackson counties. Extensive damage due to the wind and storm surge is occurring along the Mississippi coast. A storm surge of 10 to 12 feet has occurred in the southwest part of Lake Pontchartrain affecting the east banks of Jefferson, St Charles, St John the Baptist, and Livingston parishes.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/12/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Weather Service’s local weather statement for Mobile Alabama repeats the 8:14 am Flash Flood Warning (see 8:14 am August 29, 2005), which reported that the Industrial Canal is breached at Tennessee Street. [Wall Street Journal, 9/12/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The St. Bernard Parish website reports on the breach to the Industrial Canal floodwall, near the St. Bernard-Orleans parish line (Tennessee St.), citing the National Weather Service advisory (see 8:14 am August 29, 2005). According to Larry Ingargiola, Director of St. Bernard’s OEP, both parish shelters, housing 300 residents, are suffering significant flooding damage. Chalmette High is losing its roof; many windows are broken at St. Bernard High. “We cannot see the tops of the levees!” [St. Bernard Parish, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service, Chalmette High School

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

National Weather Service (NWS) Regional Public Affairs Director Jim Teet sends an email to employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) informing them that all requests for contact from the national media must “now receive prior approval by” the Commerce Department. According to the memo, when a media request is made, employees must obtain the “name of the reporter and their affiliation; [t]heir deadline and contact phone number; [n]ame of individual being requested for the interview and purpose of the interview; [a]dditional background about the interview subject, and expertise of requested interviewee on this subject,” and then provide this information to the NWS press office. From there, the request shall be forwarded to the Commerce Department’s public relations office, whose staff will then decide how to handle the media request. According to an unnamed NOAA employee, “prior to this policy change, if a media organization called our office (or any other National Weather Service office) and wanted an interview, we would do our best to accommodate the request as quickly as possible. While often such requests are from local media, local offices do get requests from national media if a weather event is big enough to be a national story.” But NOAA Public Affairs Director Jordan St. John insists that “the policy has been in existence all along,” and that he had rewritten it in June 2004 (see June 28, 2004) with lawyers and Commerce Department policymakers. But NOAA employees tell the Raw Story that they had never been informed of these restrictions before, and some suggest that the timing of Teet’s email may be related to the political impact of hurricane Katrina. According to Raw Story, there is a substantial difference between the June 2004 policy and the one emailed by Teet. “[T]he emailed policy states that routine contact with national media outlets has to be pre-cleared with the Commerce Department, requiring extensive information about the journalist and media outlet [while] [t]he media policy St. John provided does not stipulate such restrictions on interacting with national media. Nor does it state that the Commerce Department must approve media requests,” Raw Story reports. [Raw Story, 10/4/2005; New Republic, 2/11/2006; Union of Concern Scientists and Government Accountability Project, 1/30/2007, pp. 31 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Jordan St. John, National Weather Service, Jim Teet

Timeline Tags: Global Warming

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