September 2, 2008
Posted: 01:30 PM ET
Just like the dance-hall Conga Lines of the 1950's and earlier, tropical systems are lining up across the Atlantic and headed this way. Let's take a look one-by-one.
Gustav roared through the Gulf Coast, missing a worst-case scenario in New Orleans but causing plenty of damage elsewhere: coastal damage is spread all through Cajun country, and the Mississippi Coast. Heavy rains will continue, and many Louisianans may be without electric power for a week or more.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin tagged the approaching Gustav as the "Mother of All Storms." Nagin, roundly criticized during Katrina as were his state and federal counterparts, effectively frightened his city into a successful evacuation. In fact, emergency managers on all levels erred on the side of caution rather than repeat the sad blunders of Katrina. And, of course, the levees didn't fail. The bottom line was a measure of reassurance for New Orleans. Whether it was well-placed is another matter.
It's important to bear in mind that neither Gustav nor Katrina brought full fury to New Orleans. Katrina was a Category Three storm when it passed to the east of the city, forcing a wall of water into New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast. Gustav was a Cat Two when it passed far to the west of the city, which was barely on the fringe of hurricane-force winds. Tide gauges measured about a five-foot surge in Lake Ponchartrain yesterday. So the real bottom line may be that a bigger test still awaits the engineers, leaders, and people of New Orleans.
Next up is Hanna, forecast to be a weak hurricane making a U.S landfall Friday, possibly at or near Savannah, Georgia. It's been 110 years since Savannah took a direct hit, the longest lucky streak of any major coastal U.S. city in the hurricane zone. Hanna is now bringing heavy rain to Haiti (as of midday Tuesday).
After that, Ike. While it's too soon to give any definitive forecast for the tropical storm, it could be headed to the Gulf of Mexico, according to several long-range models.
Today the National Hurricane Center named a new one: Josephine, forming as a tropical storm off the African coast, could cross the ocean to threaten in 7 to 10 days.
Peter Dykstra Executive Producer CNN Science, Tech & Weather
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