Nate Cometh

Nate cometh.

I first heard about him as Tropical Depression #16, forming off the coast of Nicaragua on Wednesday. On Thursday morning I saw he had been named and was predicted to be headed straight for New Orleans. I contacted a friend in Memphis about the possibility of bunking there over the weekend.

But then I learned more about Nate. He’s a fast-moving son of a gun. He was expected to be in the middle of the Gulf Saturday, making landfall on the Gulf Coast in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and be all the way up in New England late Monday.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a storm that fast.

Contrary to what you might think if you don’t live in this zone, fast is good in some ways. A slow-moving tropical storm that dumps a ton of water can be worse for a flood-prone area than a fast-moving hurricane.

Because Nate is moving so fast, he may not have time to strengthen significantly over the Gulf. He’s officially a Category 1 storm right now, and not expected to get much stronger, though the latest update says maybe Category 2 by landfall.

Current estimates say New Orleans might only get a couple inches of rain, but we’re on the edge of a heavier rainfall prediction zone. If we get more, we could have some street flooding, but right now it’s looking like winds will be more significant. We could lose power, and it might be a long time before that’s restored.

Then again maybe Nate will blow to our east and this will be a non-event for New Orleans.

So we’ve stocked up on essentials and we’re preparing to ride Nate out. Xy is alternating between complete blasé and full-on panic. She seems to have no middle ground. Me, I’m trying to maintain an even keel.

Distant Early Warning

Gustav is set to enter the Gulf this weekend. He’s only a tropical storm right now, but he should be a hurricane by then.

In Gustav's Cone

I only became aware of Gustav yesterday, when Karen asked, “When do we start freaking out?” My reply: “Thursday morning.” It’s only Wednesday now, so I’m not worried yet. But I am keeping a close eye on the NHC website.

Yeah, yeah, the track looks like it’s pointed right at New Orleans. But that estimate is five days out, very unreliable. Furthermore, I believe the center of the track is just the area of greatest probability. Gustav could end up anywhere within that cone, which covers half the Gulf. This most recent estimate veers eastward, which is good for us — not so good for those to the east, obviously.

I’ve even learned some misguided Democrats are rooting for Gustav to make a direct hit on New Orleans next week because it will make the Republican National Convention look bad. Fortunately I don’t believe any amount of wishful thinking will influence the weather. Otherwise I’d feel guilty about wishing Gustav off to the east.

Not to worry. Not yet. But this is a good time to check plans and supplies, to make sure everything is prepared.

Update: Come to think of it, I believe the track is constructed from multiple different predictive models, so the center of the track may actually be the area of least probability. My man Bob Breck seems to think so: “I want New Orleans to be the bulls eye at 5 days because it won’t come here…it will be on either side of the center line track by a large distance.” He may be a global warming denier, but he’s still a damn good weatherman.

Later that evening: The University just announced campus will be closed from Friday afternoon until the following Thursday. Kudos to the administration for playing it smart. This makes it easier for students, faculty and staff to evacuate if necessary.

Ivan

The National Hurricane Center’s projections continue to predict Ivan will take a turn to the north.

Turn?

(Per M. Whybark’s request, I’ve marked the location of New Orleans with a big purple dot.)

Here’s hoping they’re right. Ivan has been heading north by northwest, and if it doesn’t turn, we are in deep shit.

Ivan

Ivan Cometh

Ivan cometh. New Orleans (and much of the Gulf Coast) is under a hurricane watch. The university is closed today and tomorrow. So is NOPS.

20-49%

The National Hurricane Center says there’s a 20-49% chance that the eye of Ivan will pass within 75 miles of New Orleans within the next 72 hours.

Panama City Beach is in the 10-19% range, but MAD bugged out for Indiana. Here in New Orleans, Homan says he’s staying no matter what. The neighbors are staying for now. I don’t know what our plan is quite yet. Xy doesn’t seem inclined to take this very seriously and refuses to have a real conversation about it; right now she’s grading papers. It’s a sunny day here with beautiful blue skies and fluffy white clouds. I’ve gotten calls from friends both panicked and cavalier.

If they evacuate the city we’ll leave for sure, even though at that point we’ll surely be peeing in a cup. I hear it takes hours and hours to get out of the metro area during an evacuation. The real question is: What critical determining factor would cause us to leave early? A hurricane warning? A strike probability of over 50%? I think we’ll wait until tomorrow morning and see.

We do have a hotel reservation for Wednesday night in Baton Rouge, thanks to my boss.