Katrina & Isaac: Anniversary Issue

Off the Keyboard of RE

Discuss this article at the Geological and Cosmological Events Table inside the Diner

As Isaac bears down on NOLA on the 7th Anniversary of the landfall of Katrina, I though it would be a good idea to make a comparison of these two Hurricanes. Above you see one of the last of the radar images taken before the Outer bands of Katrina made landfall, one of the most perfectly organized Cyclonic Storms of all time. Well, at least what we have Satellite Imagery of anyhow. Below is the most recent Satellite Image of Isaac I can pull up with a permalink:

As is obvious, at this stage of the game, Katrina was a much more Organized Cyclonic Storm, and packing much higher wind speeds as well. Katrina was at this stage between Cat 3-4, and the Doomsday scenario was that she would continue to strengthen to a Cat 5 before landfall. That did not happen, she in fact weakenned to around a Cat 2 at landfall.

Isaac by comparison is just barely making Cat 1 wind speeds now, and may strengthen to a Cat 2 before landfall. In the end the wind speed differential between the two storms on landfall probably will not be more than 20-30MPH. What should be remembered however is that the damage and loss of life Katrina caused was not a result of high wind velocities, it was a Flooding Event caused by failure of the levee system in a neighborhood that has much of its land below Sea Level. What is above Sea Level is only barely so.

The main question here is whether with the improvements made since 2005 by the Army Corps of Bozos the levee system will hold its integrity this time? One suspects the ACoB has positioned more Troops and more Heavy Equipment along the levee system to plug any levee breaches as soon as they occur. Imagine a few hundred Little Dutch Boys equipped with Caterpillar Back Hoes and Daiwoo Front End Loaders here ready to Spring into ACTION to stick a Finger in the Dyke hole.

This is a Water Level and Pressure problem overall, which can’t really be predicted by any model since you don’t know precisely how much water vapor the system holds, and how much it will drop how fast at any given spot once the system is over land. That in turn depends on Ground Level Temperatures and Upper Air temperatures above the system itself. If it is getting overlaid by cooler and drier air above as it rolls ashore, that is what will spawn Tornadoes, and if any one of those Touch Down on a Levee or Lock along the Mighty Mississippi, you definitely get a breach.

To get some idea of what the comparative Water situation might be like, let’s look at the respective Storm Tracks of Isaac and Katrina roughly One Day before Landfall. First, Isaac:

Now the Storm Track for Katrina:

As you can see, both storms are making landfall at just about precisely the same location, but the Angle of Attack is different. These models 48 hours out are quite accurate, so we can pretty much assume this is how it will go.

Because of the Attack Angle, the Storm Surge which could hit Lake Ponchartrain from Isaac could be bigger than that of Katrina, it depends there on the precise timing of landfall and High Tide. Also depends on the absolute Speed the storm center is moving, and if you look at the chart, Isaac is not moving as fast as Katrina was at the same relative time. This means a longer time period with high wind speeds over the water, which translates to more water piling up in higher waves. The current strom surge is predicted to be about 12 feet, but IMHO there is a significant Error Margin there, probably +-6 feet depending on the time of day Isaac actually hits.

Levee Breach in NOLA, Katrina 2005

Now, overall as opposed to last time with Katrina, IMHO the Army Corps of Bozos is probably prepared to go the full 9 yards to keep the levee system intact, insofar as their equipment will allow them to do that anyhow. They also have had 7 YEARS to plan for such a scenario, so if they haven’t figured out how to keep it from occuring again here, they are going to look like, well, BOZOS. If NOLA Floods AGAIN here, that Big Shity is about Done, Outta Biz.

Lousiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP)

Next main issue here is the Oil Patch, the LOOP and Refineries and Pipelines streaming out from southern LA. If you remember back to 2008, the damage caused by Gustav and Ike made a mess of this system, and Gas prices spiked up about $.75/Gallon. That was when Gas was running around $2/Gallon. If Isaac causes anywhere near the amount of ancillary damage to the whole Oil Production system that Gustav and Ike did, given we also have all the Shit Going Down with Iran and the rest of MENA and total global production capacity is MORE compromised now than in 2008, a hit to this portion of Global Oil Supply now probably drives up the GasDiesel Price $1/Gallon. That moves it from near the $4 range in the FSoA to around the $5 mark. The Automobile Industry is already in Collapse now, the “New” GM is on the verge of ANOTHER Bankruptcy. $5/Gallon Gas puts the Final Nail in the Coffin for Happy Motoring here in the FSofA, and guarantees full blown Recession again, no matter how much Funny Money Helicopter Ben dishes out to the TBTF banks.

Hurricane Damaged oil Platform, Port Fouchon

Beyond those Physical Problems is the Debt Problem, which overall now is an Order of Magnitude or perhaps two greater than it was in 2008. In the interim time, big Insurers like AIG and Lloyds of London have basically gone BK and are on Goobermint Life Support. Goobermints that themselves are in deep Debt Problems even without another “Natural Disaster” induced Oil supply problem. Any projections at all made for the various Industrial Economies to work their way out of the Debt Problem all depend on GROWTH, which is pretty hard to accomplish if Mother Nature keeps taking out your Industrial infrastructure every few years. Mortagages for instance are issued out on 30 year cycles, and these days you have some Goobermints issuing out Bonds of 50 year durations! If what you bought with a 30 year Mortgage gets DESTROYED in 7 year increments, the DEBT remains, the COLLATERAL does not. No McMansion to Repo if it got washed down the Mighty Mississippi and out to sea of course. Similarly, repairing a damaged Refinery every 7 years is a very pricy deal overall.

So, what is the DANGER as far as Isaac is concerned? Is it the likelihood of another Flooding Event of the Magnitude of Katrina in NOLA? Not really, though that would cause not only Economic Havoc but Political Havoc as well here in the FSofA. If NOLA Floods, you can GUARANTEE Obama-sama loses the Election. He’ll look like as big a BUFFOON as Dubya did during Katrina. Romney will be all over that one. If it does NOT Flood, Obama-sama will crow about how well HE prepared for this as opposed to the poor job done by Dubya, so that enhances his re-election possibilities.

Where the real DANGER though lies is in another “Black Swan” hitting an already very fragile Economic system and Energy Delivery system on the verge of collapse from many other directions not present in 2008 when Gustav & Ike hit the Oil Patch of the GOM. Greece wasn’t on the verge of being ejected from the Eurozone in 2008. Spain wasn’t coughing up 7% on its Bond Issues in 2008. Helicopter Ben wasn’t Doing the Twist and Super Mario Dragon wasn’t creating Schrodinger Money from Nothing in 2008 either. A perturbation in the House of Cards created here now has a much more powerful Knock-On effect than it did in 2008. The system is simply less resilient to SHOCK.

Can you really call this a Black Swan though? It is not, because Black Swans are not predictable, whereas this one was completely predictable, within a timespan of a decade anyhow. Another Hurricane hitting this stretch of the GOM is completely predictable now over such timespans. If the Oceans churn them up at a given rate, you will get a given number hitting the GOM and at least one of them each decade will hit on NOLA and the LOOP or the Houston Ship Channel. It is GUARANTEED. How many times can you rebuild this stuff, issuing out still MORE debt to do so?

If Isaac turns out to be a Big One for damage to the Oil Infrastructure of the GOM and Lousiana, this may be the last time.

To finish this 7th Anniversary of Katrina and the oncoming Marriage betwen Isaac and NOLA, let us review an Independent Documentary of Katrina’s effects and consequences from one competely INSANE Storm Tracker. That this dude’s SUV held up long enough for him to make his ESCAPE is nothing short of MIRACULOUS.



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