Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Having a below average June yet?

Tomato and onion
Summer is coming

They're telling us it's gonna be a "below average" Hurricane Season.  But then again, aren't they all?
(NOAA) NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be below-normal, but that’s no reason to believe coastal areas will have it easy.

For the hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 – November 30, NOAA is predicting a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including zero to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). While a below-normal season is likely (70 percent), there is also a 20 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.
As is always the case, this prediction is worth almost nothing to us. As we shall soon see, it will be revised several times over the summer. And anyway, as far as hurricanes are concerned it only takes one.  Basically, we'll either get one or we won't. 

Nevertheless, officials are urging you to make your preparations now. Which is what officials always do. Remember, though, they are trying to make decisions that will cause them the least political grief and this may be at variance with what causes you the least stress.  The fact is evacuating can be difficult, expensive, and even dangerous. It can also be the right thing to do but that will depend on factors particular to your own situation. Everyone's mileage varies here so your preparations should account for the needs of yourself and your family rather than whatever the blanket pronouncements of the officials happen to be.

Your decision might depend on something as personal as your family's tolerance for living several days without air conditioning during the summer.  Or it might have to do with larger issues such as the status of the flood protection system relative to your location.

The new $14.5 billion levee system encircling New Orleans includes some of the latest engineering advances and has been deemed the city’s best ever.

But, as expected, the delta it sits on is sinking so fast that most of the levees will have to be raised over the next 10 years to keep the area qualified for federal flood insurance.

That process began Wednesday, when the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East’s coastal advisory committee presented a list of levee sections that it recommended lifting in the near future.

The full board approved that resolution Thursday and decided to start planning exactly how it will raise the levees.

Lifting these levee sections would cost up to an estimated $37 million, with up to $17 million spent lifting the all of the levee sections along the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline in Jefferson Parish. This portion could cost as little as $10 million if it is determined that the additional height would not require stability berms.

The other $20 million would go toward levee lifts in eastern New Orleans.

None of the levee sections is now below the heights required to meet the system’s standard of protecting against the 100-year storm – a storm with a 1 percent chance of happening every year – but the sections could be below these heights as soon as next year.  The early start is a cost-saving measure.
Keep in mind, also, that even those of us on high ground inside of the protection system could still be relying on a suspect temporary pumping system in case of a storm that drops heavy rainfall.  So, even if you are planning to ride out a small to medium sized storm... which is what I am planning to do... there are potential hazards involved.

Meanwhile we are moving from Festival Season (Tomato Fest is basically the closer next weekend) into Hurricane Season.  So you will notice much of the city beginning to shut down now that the tourists are less plentiful and nobody actually lives here.

For instance, it's safe to assume nobody will need the St. Charles streetcar for a few months.

Streetcar service through the Uptown area will be interrupted in three phases over the summer in order to accommodate the SELA drainage project, RTA officials told Carrollton residents on Monday night.

The first phase of interruptions will run from May 31 to July 11. The streetcars will operate between Canal Street and Erato Street, but from Erato Street to Webster Street there will be buses. From Webster Street to Carrolton and Claiborne, the streetcar will continue to run, said Gerard Guter, director of transportation at of the New Orleans RTA.

“Through the three months of this project, we will keep the streetcar running from Webster to Claiborne,” Guter said.

The second phase of interruptions will be from July 12 to Aug. 8.

“In that phase we are going to run buses from Canal street to Webster street,” Guter said. “When the bus gets to Webster, passengers will have the option of staying on the bus to Carrollton and Claiborne, or getting off at Webster if you want to continue to ride on the streetcar into Carrolton and Claiborne area.”

According to RTA, the third phase will return to the same configuration as the first — with streetcars resuming service between Canal and Erato — and will last from Aug. 8 to Sept. 5.

Streetcar out for summer

It's getting hard for those of us living within the SELA demilitarized zone.  I'm lucky enough to have an easily bikeable commute which relieves some of the stress. But on the days I need the car.. such as when it's raining which is A LOT of the time this part of the year... it becomes an obstacle course. 

And then there is the parking issue.
No longer is it just the headache of street closures and detours, but now residents living on one side of Jefferson Avenue are being ticketed for parking on the only accessible streets near their homes.

"My first (ticket) was Friday morning and then I got one this afternoon," said Quincy Crawford, who lives in the 2700 block of Jefferson.

For more than a year, the Crawfords and their neighbors have dealt with the hassle of ongoing construction on Jefferson, where the Army Corps of Engineers is digging new underground drainage canals.

"So the last year, we have not been able to access our driveway or get to the front of our house," Crawford said. "Everyone is coming into the street going forward, parking on both sides of the street and the only way to get out is to come back in reverse. So it's not ideal to begin with, but now they've started to give out parking tickets."

Crawford and her husband have been ticketed three times since Friday, including twice on Monday.
For those who are having a hard time coping, there was a townhall meeting tonight specifically for residents who wanted to shout into the void and/or at a councilperson about all of this.  Can't wait to read about how that went. Has to be at least as funny as TEDx.

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