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View Full Version : Could the Tragedy Have Been Averted? Katrina



Beyond Belief
09-02-2005, 06:56 PM
The tragedy currently unfolding in New Orleans is in many ways unprecedented in U.S. history, and it is tempting to think that the misery we are witnessing could have been avoided. I would like to suggest that some level of misery and loss of life was unavoidable. With all of the rhetoric in recent days regarding the possible role of global warming in hurricane activity, it is useful to examine weather disasters in general, and Katrina in particular, from both historical and practical points of view.





Forecast Accuracy and Warnings



Everyone knows that weather forecasts are not totally accurate. For potentially destructive and life-threatening events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods, forecasters necessarily err on the side of caution. This leads to over-warning, which in turn results in some level of complacency on the part of the public. While over-warning leads to a high "probability of detection" (very few events go without warnings), it is at the expense of increased false alarms. But there really is no other acceptable choice. The only alternative would be to issue fewer warnings. But given the imprecision of hurricane forecasts, this would be at the cost of numerous events for which there were no warnings. Many, possibly most, hurricanes that hit land would either have no warnings, or would have insufficient lead time for evacuations and property protection to take place. This would be totally unacceptable to the public. Thus, we are left with the unavoidable situation where some portion of the people will not heed warnings - for example, I personally ignore most tornado warnings -- and so people will die.



Hurricane intensity and track forecasts for Hurricane Katrina were, from a historical perspective, pretty darn accurate. Early forecasts had the hurricane tracking farther east in the Florida panhandle. But as of 11 p.m. Saturday night (48 hours before high winds started reaching the coast of Louisiana) the National Hurricane Center (NHC) was forecasting an "intense hurricane". The forecast track issued at that time was almost dead-center on the eventual landfall location. Katrina ended up intensifying and moving more rapidly than normal, leading to less lead time than would have been desired for the warned areas.



Nevertheless, warnings of a "catastrophic event" were made in time for virtually all of the people who were willing and able to leave New Orleans and coastal areas to do so. Most people did indeed leave the warned areas -- but not all of them. NHC makes it a special point in the case of especially broad hurricanes such as Katrina to tell people to not focus on the exact forecast track of the eye since such a broad area will be impacted anyway.

continued here:
http://www.techcentralstation.com/090205A.html

concernedperson
09-02-2005, 07:10 PM
There is a whole forum dedicated to this. Please add there.

Dark Knight
09-02-2005, 08:48 PM
There is a whole forum dedicated to this. Please add there.
You mean thread, not forum, I think.

concernedperson
09-02-2005, 08:51 PM
You mean thread, not forum, I think.

Thanks for being politically correct.

Dark Knight
09-02-2005, 09:20 PM
Thanks for being politically correct.
LOL! Just didn't want her to go searching for another forum and leave this one, where the thread is. :blowkiss:

Beyond Belief
09-02-2005, 09:24 PM
Actually, I was just posting an article. LOL

which thread are u talking about?

concernedperson
09-02-2005, 09:25 PM
LOL! Just didn't want her to go searching for another forum and leave this one, where the thread is. :blowkiss:

I know. And I really don't want to be snippy. I am kinda so upset and would love a hug. I want to fight this battle and I want these people to be OK but the issues are so real and so in my face. Just peace and resolve.

Details
09-02-2005, 09:54 PM
Which thread is that? I see several that include this topic, but nothing on this topic. Seems a valid question to me - I think that everything realistic that could have been done was. 20/20 hindsight could tell you that this one was going to be IT, and to go ahead and spend a few million or more in getting more supplies ready, people, a more strenuous evacuation - but this isn't the first time a hurricane has come around that looked to hit New Orleans hard.

I saw someone refer to Hurricane Ivan, and an unneeded evacuation that caused some people to die - an evacuation is such an expensive, intrusive, harmful option by itself that they have to be careful how much it is used. For this one, they used the strongest evacuation I've ever heard of being used pre-disaster.

I just don't see what a reasonable person without the benefit of what we know now would have done differently when Hurricane Katrina appeared to be heading their way.

The levees could have been worked on, made stronger, but not just for Katrina - that's been a long term gamble made by New Orleans for decades.

ariel7
09-03-2005, 06:14 AM
I know. And I really don't want to be snippy. I am kinda so upset and would love a hug. I want to fight this battle and I want these people to be OK but the issues are so real and so in my face. Just peace and resolve.

awww!:(
(((((hugs))))) for you!!

I SO understand!!!

I find myself wishing more than anything that
I could just hop in my van and GO THERE and HELP somehow,
anyhow....
To see the city...to hear/read the stories...to see the ppl---especially
the children and the elderly...oh and to see the dead...those that
survived the storm only to die in the aftermath--hurts me for them.

I am SO glad that help is starting to arrive. It does NOT surprise me
that it has taken SO long though...the chaos there is astounding...
the magnitude of the disaster SO hard to grasp.:(
Doesn't seem real in a way.....doesn't seem like America...yet, I
could drive just over half a day and be there --IF I could afford the gas!

with much love,

Ariel:blowlkiss:

Dara
09-03-2005, 09:35 AM
I know. And I really don't want to be snippy. I am kinda so upset and would love a hug. I want to fight this battle and I want these people to be OK but the issues are so real and so in my face. Just peace and resolve.
I can only send a cyberhug, but cp, you've been one of the people who have helped me stay sane over this. Thank you for being here.