Michael Oberndorf
Isaac ain't Katrina, Part III
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By Michael Oberndorf
August 29, 2012

I stuck my head outside this morning, and not a sign of a drop of rain, yet. Still a breeze, but no rain. The National Hurricane Center still has Isaac as a tropical storm, sustained winds 70 mph. The rainfall model is downgrading, too, suggesting the storm is shrinking, not growing.

Isaac ain't Katrina. What Isaac is is a classic example of "mainstream" media hype and fear-mongering. First with the phony track up Florida's west coast, and then with the constant drum beat, "Another Katrina!" the media, especially AP and their running dog, Yahoo, have tried to generate fear and panic. It's unclear whether their motives are political or what, but the result has been, at least here in south Louisiana, to come off looking like the irresponsible liars that more and more people are coming to see them to be. It seemed at first that they were trying to set up a situation where Brave Barack could step in and save the day, but state and local folks eliminated that possibility by doing what needed to be done on their own, without begging Washington to bail them out.

Panic has not showed its ugly head here, and folks have calmly gone about the business of living their lives with the minor addition of a few precautions and stocking up of water and emergency odds and ends. Some folks are voluntarily evacuating the area, heading north to Baton Rouge and beyond, but most are staying. Only a couple of parishes had mandatory evacuation orders; these are areas that will get hit by storm surges and have little in the way of levee protection. And in spite of a Good Morning America report, carried by Yahoo, the 50,000 people told to leave St. Charles Parish have not done so, and it's likely that most of them won't. By and large, though, people down here have seen this scenario over and over and know what to do and how to do it. The media's best efforts to panic them failed.

Even the media can see when the horse has died under them. But instead of getting off, they are trying to switch saddles. They've finally started talking about the rain, even though the predicted amounts are less this morning than they were last night. As I've said all along, flooding from rain is, next to a lying, irresponsible media, going to be the worst problem.

Yesterday, I got an email from my Senator, David Vitter (R-LA), with a really nice list of emergency supplies that it would be good to have on hand. Normally, having the federal government stick its nose in my business does not make me happy. In this case, however, the tone and the content made it seem more like some helpful advice from a neighbor. BTW, Senator Vitter is a pretty solid conservative. Hmmm...

Around eight, the distant rumble of thunder from the first squalls associated with the outer edge of the storm system could be heard, but still no rain, and the wind is no more than a breeze with occasional gusts. Movement toward the coast has slowed considerably, and the rain predictions are increased as a result. The rain, very light, finally started a little after nine, and by nine-forty was coming down intermittently in a fashion one would expect from a tropical storm. However, this seems to be turning out to be the Disaster that Never Was.

Finally, around eleven-twenty, a hurricane hunter aircraft clocked winds at 75 mph, and Isaac, now only 75 miles from the coast, is officially a hurricane, but not anywhere even close to what Katrina was.

I have mentioned storm surge as a concern, and this probably needs a bit of explanation to clarify why (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hurricane/resources/surge_intro.pdf). The surge is water higher than normal high tide, pushed ahead of the storm by the winds that circulate from east to west/northeast to southwest. The height of the surge will depend on a number of factors, but generally it's a combination of wind speed and shallow water. It's a little like a miniature tsunami. Katrina, Category 3 at landfall, had as much as a 28 foot surge, but a Category 1, as Isaac may still be when it reaches land, is likely to be in the eight to ten foot range. This will be a problem, but clearly, Isaac ain't Katrina.

Isaac's current movement is clocked at about 10 mph, so landfall probably won't occur until around eight o'clock tonight. I wonder if I can stay awake...

© Michael Oberndorf

 

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Michael Oberndorf

The son of a German immigrant, Michael Oberndorf is an archaeologist by profession, with a BA from Metropolitan State College of Denver, and an MA from Leicester University, in England. He's also the Chairman of the Freedom21 Legislative Committee. Over the years, he has lived and worked all over the country, and traveled in Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Australia, and Japan. He sincerely believes in the old saying, "America, love it or leave it." Michael can be reached at: moberndorf@yahoo.com

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