Tuesday, September 2, 2008

NOAA Installs New Storm Tide Stations in the Gulf of Mexico

NOAA Installs New Storm Tide Stations in the Gulf of Mexico

August 22, 2008

Today in Bay St. Louis, Miss., NOAA dedicated the first of four new hurricane-hardened water level observing stations being installed at key locations in coastal Mississippi and Louisiana.

The yellow, 25-foot-tall “NOAA Sentinel” will provide real-time water level and meteorological data to help coastal authorities and the public prepare for, mitigate, and respond to storm tides generated by severe coastal storms. NOAA Sentinels are also being installed in Calcasieu Pass, Amerada Pass, and Shell Beach, La., communities that are especially vulnerable to severe storms.

“NOAA is committed to providing the public accurate, real-time ocean and coastal water and weather data to support public safety, navigation and commerce,” said John H. Dunnigan, NOAA assistant administrator for the National Ocean Service. “These new NOAA Sentinels will ensure that critical water and wind information is available during severe storms, when it’s needed most.”

Operated by NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, the NOAA Sentinels are designed to withstand wind and wave action from a Category 4 hurricane (winds from 131 to 155 miles per hour). The sensor-packed stations are mounted on four-foot diameter steel posts, which are driven 60-80 feet into the seafloor to ensure stability.

The data collected by the NOAA Sentinels are essential to providing accurate marine weather and flood forecasts, planning and executing evacuations, determining when to open and close locks, facilitating the reopening of ports after storms, and determining the vulnerability of coastal areas to storm surges. Installation of the stations will be completed by fall 2008.

"This technology will deliver real-time storm tide data during severe coastal events that will allow emergency managers to take appropriate action and will provide information to help protect life and property,” said Sen Thad Cochran. “I am pleased NOAA has worked to install these sentinels at locations off the coast of Mississippi and Louisiana."

Part of NOAA's National Water Level Observation Network, the NOAA Sentinels will replace stations that were destroyed or heavily damaged by recent hurricanes. Real-time data from all of NOAA’s National Water Level Observation Network stations are available online.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.


Hurricane Hannah Threat The Bahamas And U.S. East Coast

According to the latest advisory from the National Weather Center, which is listed here as advisory number 19, but is constantly changing as the advisories are updated, Hannah has become the fourth storm of the season, at 75 mile an hour winds it makes Hannah a Category 1 as of this time and is has caused the Government of the Bahamas to issue a Hurricane warning for Central and Southeastern Bahamas.

Projections show that Hannah could continue along it's current path and make landfall potentially affecting Florida, Georgia and possibly North Carolina if it follows the projected path, which has the North Carolina Red Cross keeping some of their supplies close to home in case they are needed to combat the potential hit from Hannah.

The U.S. Coast Guard units are prepared to send more ships, aircrafts, medical teams, disaster assistance teams to areas affected and some have already been sent to the Gulf Coast to help with the damage seen from Gustav which is a Category 2 as reported at Bradenton News.

The projected path of what is now a Hurricane Hanna is expected to hit the East Coast of Florida within 3 days unless the storm slows or loses strength after hitting land in the Bahamas, but even then it is expected to gain strength again once it goes over the warm waters again.

Hannah was not projected to become a Hurricane until Tuesday or Wednesday initially.

[Update] Television news is reporting Hannah is expected to make landfall by Thursday or Friday if it continues at the present pace.

goes east infra red hurricane sector image


Click image to zoom in – Turn track offDownload GIS data [Image of 5-day forecast of predicted track, and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]

Storm Ike forms, seen growing into hurricane

MIAMI (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Ike, the ninth of a busy Atlantic hurricane season, formed on Monday midway between Africa and the Caribbean and was expected to grow rapidly into a hurricane that could threaten the United States or the Caribbean.

Ike was churning across the Atlantic on the heels of Hurricane Gustav, which pounded New Orleans on Monday as it came ashore on the U.S. Gulf Coast, and Hurricane Hanna, which strengthened as it neared the south-eastern Bahamas islands.

The peak of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season usually occurs around September 10, and an average season spawns 10 tropical storms. Six of those strengthen into hurricanes.

Ike's formation, and the possibility of another tropical depression developing in its wake in the coming days, means the storm activity this year is well above normal, bad news for U.S. oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and for the millions living in the Caribbean and on U.S. coasts.

By 5 p.m. (10 p.m. British time), Tropical Storm Ike was about 1,400 miles (2,250 km) east of the Leeward Islands and moving west at 16 miles per hour (26 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Centre said.

Its top sustained winds were already at 50 mph (85 kph) and it was expected to reach hurricane strength, with winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph), within 36 hours, the hurricane Centre said.

Computer models used to forecast tropical storm tracks indicated Ike was likely to stick to a westerly path that would bring it just north of the island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The Miami-based hurricane Centre said Ike could be a "major" hurricane by then. Major hurricanes are those that rank at Category 3 and higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of storm intensity and are the most destructive.

Hurricane Katrina was a Category 3 when it came ashore near New Orleans in 2005 and swamped the city, killing 1,500 people on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Hurricane Gustav was also a Category 3 on Monday shortly before landfall but it weakened as it landed.

Long-range track and intensity forecasts are subject to enormous error but some models suggested Ike could eventually dip to the south-southwest, potentially threatening Haiti, Cuba or the Gulf of Mexico where the United States produces 25 percent of its oil and 15 percent of its natural gas.

GAO Report: Hurricane Katrina: Continuing Debris Removal and Disposal Issues

GAO has a new report out on debris management from Hurricane Katrina. The cover letter reads in part:

"...the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) stated that while the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimated in July 2008 that it had funded about 16,900 home demolitions, an estimated 6,100 homes remained to be demolished around the New Orleans area. Further, it is estimated that when the demolition and renovation of damaged property in the New Orleans area resulting from Hurricane Katrina are completed, more than 100 million cubic yards of disaster debris will have been generated.1 This is more than twice the amount of disaster-related debris generated in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew—the event that prior to Hurricane Katrina had resulted in the greatest recorded amount of disaster-related debris in U.S. history."

That is a bunch of debris! More details can be found in the GAO report, to include hazardous material issues.