Hurricane Gustav strengthens over the Gulf

On the third anniversary of Katrina, Gustav is projected to become a potential category 5 hurricane as it passes over the warmer Gulf waters on a path that includes New Orleans as a possible landfall target.

Gustav churns toward the U.S. Gulf Coast on a similar path to Katrina (see below). Residents in its projected path have been warned to either evacuate or to prepare to do so. New Orleans has made the evacuation order mandatory.

The infamous SuperDome (now renamed) is not intended as a shelter this time. The Humane Society reminds residents to take their pets with them; not to leave them as so many were left with Katrina and/or to stay behind with them, if they are headed to buses and shelters provided for evacuation. For buses that are headed to emergency flights, there are some limitations on pets. Citizens should check with pet shelters about their animals if that is their only way out for other modes of transportation that have been instructed to allow evacuees' pets to accompany them.

Offshore oil rigs have been evacuated, as well and oil and gas prices in the region have risen in anticipation of the possible shortfalls (and possible gauging).

With the cone of possible landfall sites still in flux (<--see graph), it is uncertain exactly where Gustav will strike. The damage in the Caribbean thus far, over 80 killed and many more left homeless, points to a severe event.

Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans, in issuing the mandatory evacuation order, warned his residents to 'be scared' and referred to Gustav as "The Storm of the Century."

The high temperature of the Gulf waters means it is likely that the impact could be even se
vere to catastrophic, depending on where it hits, the upper atmosphere wind shear patterns and how much time it has to draw strength from the warmed gulf waters.

Two more storms are building behind Gustav
. It is unknown whether the warmth that Gustav may draw off the waters will mollify their strength or if we could be look at a one-two-three punch in the Gulf Region.

A note to anyone still in the target area:

We've had reports of people ignoring the mandatory evacuation order. Here's what those who stay will (not may, will) face:

  • Gustav is pulling more heat out of the Gulf than Katrina.

  • The Gulf loop current is nearing 90 degrees. That exceeds the high temperature that fed Katrina.

  • Tidal surges could exceed 20 feet; greater than Katrina.

  • The cone is narrowing toward Louisiana with New Orleans in the bullseye.

  • While it may not hit New Orleans, it still may.

  • There will be no city services.

  • The cool waters just offshore may not be able to sufficiently stop its momentum.

  • The wetlands, New Orleans' only protection, are not returned enough to health to slow it down.

  • The levees are not built to hold above a certain strength of surge; one that Gustav may exceed.

Anyone still there should get out fast. Don't leave it until the last minute. The evacuations could break down at any time.

This story will be updated as events unfold.