Katrina is now a CAT-5 Hurricane.
So I come back from walking Lizzie the Legendary Leopard Dog, and see that Housewife has brought us up-to-date. Katrina is a monster.
Unrelated note to you know who you are: Don't make me start calling you "404 Not Found".
Katrina is about 250 miles South-Southeast of New Orleans, moving at 10mph toward the West-Northwest.
Maximum Sustained Winds: 150mph
Hurricane force winds extend to 85 miles
Tropical storm force winds extend to 185 miles
Infrared at 6:15am CDT
Headed right for New Orleans.
This could be one of the worst disasters in our nation's history.
Hurricane Katrina is CAT-4 and gaining strength and growing larger -- approaching the size, strength and reach of Hurricane Ivan before Ivan made landfall. Ivan slowed down to a CAT-3 about two hours before he hit.
Even if Katrina slowed down to CAT-3, it will not be enough to save New Orleans should Katrina continue on her present course. New Orleans, which is below sea level, will be inundated with storm surge as high as 20 feet.
This is a very, very serious situation.
According to The Times-Picayune:
Walter Maestri, Jefferson Parish's emergency management director, gauged the threat in terms that chilled New Orleanians old enough to remember the summers of 1965 and 1969: Katrina was following Hurricane Betsy's track, he said, with the strength of Hurricane Camille.
A computer model run by the LSU Hurricane Center late Saturday confirmed that. It indicated the metropolitan area was poised to see a repeat of Betsy's flooding, or worse, with storm surge of as much as 16 feet moving up the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet and topping levees in Chalmette and eastern New Orleans, and pushing water into the 9th Ward and parts of Mid-City. High water flowing from Lake Pontchartrain through St. Charles Parish also would flood over levees into Kenner, according to the model.
Also flooded would be much of the north shore below Interstate 12, including Slidell, Madisonville, Mandeville and Lacombe, according to the model.
And the model doesn't take into account the 5 to 10-foot waves that would be on top of the surge, which could top levees all along the south shore of the lake.
By mid-afternoon, officials in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne and Jefferson parishes had called for voluntary or mandatory evacuations.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin followed at 5 p.m., issuing a voluntary evacuation.
Nagin said late Saturday that he's having his legal staff look into whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he's been hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for closing hotels and other businesses. [Ed. Does this tell you anything about the people who run New Orleans?]
"Come the first break of light in the morning, you may have the first mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," Nagin told WWL-TV.
St. Tammany officials ordered evacuations of the parish's low-lying areas by today at noon.
Contraflow in effect
State Police activated the state's redesigned contraflow plan Saturday at 4 p.m., allowing traffic to use both sides of Interstates 55, 59 and 10 to evacuate New Orleans to the north, east and west after early afternoon traffic left westbound lanes of I-10 backed up bumper-to-bumper for miles in the 93-degree heat. Within hours, however, the contraflow system seemed to have alleviated much of the logjam.
The Crescent City Connection and the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway suspended toll collections to move traffic more quickly.
Those leaving the city by air found Louis Armstrong International Airport busy, but all airlines operated with normal schedules Saturday, airport spokeswoman Michelle Duffourc said.
But would-be passengers expecting to make a last-minute departure today may be hard-pressed to find a flight. Delta Airlines already had suspended all flights today, and United Airlines was planning to suspend its afternoon flights.
Duffourc said other airlines probably will make their decisions based on how quickly the weather deteriorates.
"My guess is most will fly till midday," she said.