Every year the NHC talks about the vulnerability of New Orleans to a major hurricane and every year NOLA escapes. Could Katrina be the one that changes this? Forecast tracks and intensities certainly look ominous. Today is going to be very interesting to see how the government works in NOLA for evacuations. I have heard that it takes as long as 50 hours to properly evacuate the New Orleans area. The storm is now forecast to begin impacting the area in less than 48 hours.
A couple things that NOLA has going in its favor are history and the tendency of strong storms to change tracks. It is very rare that a hurricane can maintain category 4-5 intensity for a long period of time. Katrina is currently a Cat 3 with pressure of 940mb. Forecasted wind gusts are currently predicted for 145kts at landfall. Model divergence is relatively small at this point with them clustering around NOLA. That is one thing that is not a good sign for those coastal residents. The reaction of the government in NOLA today is going to be looked at for years if a Cat4-5 hurricane hits that city. Decisions that will save lives will be made this morning. It is going to be an interesting weekend of storm tracking.