I don’t like doing blog entries on subjects like this, but it’s time to face reality. The “Big Easy -- the heart of the Marti Gras celebration and Bourbon Street, is going to see destruction in the next few days that may be far worse than anything we’ve seen happen to a United States city in recent times. Hundreds may die, and thousands may lose their homes, their livelihood, and all of their belongings.
The city of New Orleans is a geographic “bowl, and is built mostly under sea level. With a Category 5 Hurricane, the strongest level of hurricane, approaching the city and set to make landfall tomorrow morning, massive flooding, disease, and devastation are likely to occur. Nearly every meteorologist who is covering the hurricane has said there is almost no way to prevent the city from being almost completely submerged.
It will be, and has been, one of the most televised natural disasters in history. Millions around the world are literally watching and waiting for billions of dollars of damage to occur. CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, as well as thousands of independent TV stations are also extensively covering the storm. There also will be a few new technologies that make storm information more accessible for individuals.
Google Earth, which allows users to view aerial and 3d imagery of most of the planet, has a huge library of 3rd party hacks and modifications available. (Yes, I understand DaniWeb has had too much Google related news lately, but I promise its relevant!)
One such hack, available at Google Earth Hacks displays an updated satellite image of Hurricane Katrina, which is overlaid over the Gulf of Mexico in the main view. It allows weather enthusiasts (like myself) to see exactly how big the storm is and where it is positioned.
Online information seekers can also find interesting web cams located in the heart of the city. It’s very likely these cameras will be knocked out as the storm cuts off power and telecommunications, but while they last, its something worth checking out.
Katrina’s eye was last reported by an air force crew who flew into the eye of the storm to be roughly 30 miles wide, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hurricane Center reports that sustained winds are up to 160 miles per hour in the eye wall.
This hurricane will be the fourth Category 5 hurricane ever to reach land in the United States. (Andrew was the last one.) There are many places to get rapid news updates on the net, including the NOAA Hurricane Center, AccuWeather, The Weather Channel, and the Times-Picayune.