New Orleans Declares State Of Emergency As Hurricane Threatens

hurricane nate
  • Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico under Hurricane Warnings
  • 22 dead in Carribean
  • Blocked storm drains in Gulf Coast cities pose severe issues in terms of Hurricane Nate flooding potential
  • The storm is speeding up (that’s good)
  • Storm surge of 4 to 6 ft expected in Gulf Coast region

The city of New Orleans is preparing for a potential hurricane event. Hurricane Nate, as it will be called (currently it is tropical storm Nate), should experience little in the way of obstruction as it churns the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in route towards New Orleans. The storm is still a couple of days away, meaning, it could divert from its path, however, each passing hour adds a new layer of certainty to an event that is likely to cause severe issues all along the Gulf Coast.

As it stands, Hurricane Nate would hit southeast Louisiana on Sunday. Mayor Tim Kerner has sent out mandatory evacuation notices to own of Jean Lafitte. Voluntary evacuations are being recommended for Grand Isle. St Bernard Parish has also issued mandatory evacuations for zones that are susceptible to extreme flooding.

The issue, of course, is water. Hurricane Nate is likely to be a modest category 1 storm, which means winds above 75 MPH sustained, but it is the flooding potential that has many residents and officials concerned. The predicted storm surge is 4 to 6 ft. Hurricane Nate would make landfall on Sunday morning, but residents should anticipate dwindling conditions to begin on Saturday evening.

What’s Good With Hurricane Nate?

Not much, but in light of being positive and drinking from half-full glasses, here are a few items.

The storm has sped up. It went from 8 MPH to 14 MPH. This is still a slow storm, which ramps up the rainfall potential significantly, however,  8 MPH would be devastating. If you recall, Hurricane Harvey stalled out over southeast Texas allowing the storm to dump 50 inches of rain. Monsoonal winds to the south of Nate are likely to keep pushing the speed up. Expediting the storm will be key to cutting down on dramatic rainfall totals. The less the storm remains over healthy Gulf waters, the less intensification it can take on. The less time the storm spends over landfall regions on the Gulf Coast, the less flooding and the less wind exposure the U.S. mainland will take on. This is a central metric that can mean the difference between damage and devastation. Right now, the metric favors the good side of things as Nate should be a faster storm.

It’s a modest wind event. Being that it should remain a category 1, that cuts down the wind even by a large margin. 75 MPH is nothing to take lightly, however, it is manageable.

Here is a chart showing wind speed potential from the NWS.

hurricane nate wind projections
Hurricane Nate looks to be a modest hurricane wind event, but the potential for major flooding exists.

Like most hurricanes, Nate will be east loaded. And it could be east loaded by roughly 100 MPH. Meaning, if you are east of Nate’s eyewall within a 100-mile range, you’re likely to feel the storm’s effects. Many people call this the “dirty side” and it is typically where most of the damage will occur with wind, rain and tornado activity.

Rainfall potential is 3 to 6 inches, but upwards of a foot depending on the area and Nate’s exact landfall position.

Windshear was stronger than anticipated before Nate engaged with the Yucatan peninsula (that happens later today). This was due to a series of large thunderstorms flanking the storm to the south and west of Nate’s eyewall. The storms imposed some unanticipated wind shear which likely flustered Nate as it was using prominent convection to continue to build up. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t big news, however, any events which impose some obstruction to Nate can only help the cause. The earlier it builds, the more intense the storm can become. As of today, all that shear will be gone and the storm will indeed be in favorable development conditions.

Hurricane Nate Concerns: Blocked Storm Drains

Hurricane Nate could lead to catastrophic flooding in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Further worsening the situation is that due to fall, many leaves have fallen from trees and consequently blocked storm drains. This could ramp up flooding in cities where residents rely on storm drain functionality to prevent flooding.

City officials have worked tirelessly to attempt to unclog draining systems in anticipation of Hurricane Nate. In New Orleans, crews are frantically attempting to clear these drains. However, it is easier said than done. The drain clearing project began on August 6th, one day following a flooding event prompted by clogged drains and a thunderstorm event. Considering that event was more a supercell event and not a hurricane like what’s on the horizon, concern is high, to say the least. New Orleans has spent $6.3 million to clear drains over the 30 day period. Clearly, falling leaves aren’t compliant so it’s a neverending prospect this time of year.

Aside from falling leaves the city is concerned with litter clogging drains. Yes, residents throwing trash out on the streets ends up clogging drains and the contractors have to remove it.

Hurricane Nate Was A Central American Gyre

Gyres are areas of low pressure which typically form over Central America, most predominately in September. They are associated with infrequent cold fronts which form low-pressure centers. Many gyres are predisposed to becoming cyclonic systems, which can inevitably become a tropical storm or hurricane.

Gyres offer the United States faster exposure to tropical storm and hurricane conditions due to their proximity to the mainland. Traditional hurricanes form off the coast of Africa and can take up to two weeks to reach our mainland, giving residents on all coastal regions unprecedented warnings. Hurricane Nate will impose its will in much faster order.

Currently, the central American death toll is at 22 from the storm.


Author: Jim Satney

PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.

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