Before I begin…let me correct a typo from my last blog. I mentioned a Cat. 6 hurricane. There is no such thing. The top end of the scale is Cat. 5. My bad, but perhaps it’s how I feel about the strength of this storm?This hurricane goes to 11, apparently. Bob was never one to shy away from feeling the weather at us. Neither, by the way, has anyone on your social media feed where it seems everyone has decided we can steer the storms away from us through sheer force of our collective emoting via hyperbolic typos similar to Bob's. I know it's a big storm, y'all. And I know everyone is jumpy because another big storm just hit. But the same rules apply to this one as any other. The models are only as good as the models ever are and no prediction beyond three days is even worth looking at.
Of course, that won't stop your local officials from overreacting in the extreme, as is their wont.
The typical trigger for a local evacuation has long been the approach of a storm with Category 3 winds or greater. But that threshold has been lowered to a Category 1 with heavy rain-making potential, in light of the city’s diminished drainage capacity, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said.
“We are prepared to execute what we would normally execute for a Category 3 or higher. We are prepared to pull those triggers on perhaps a Category 1 with a lot of rainfall,” said Christopher Guilbeaux, an assistant deputy director with GOHSEP.
New Orleans would likely also clear out if any rain event — with or without strong winds — is forecast to bring 20 inches of rain to the area, according to GOHSEP.
The thing to understand about the timing of an evacuation call is it's as much about protecting officials from criticism as it is about protecting the public from harm. In fact there is no simple solution to what might be the best, safest decision for everyone. Not every individual in the path of a storm faces the same danger. Maybe some are less likely to flood than others. Some are not in the best condition due to health, age, etc. to up and run without difficulty. A lot of people simply can't afford to go and stay away from home for very long. Not to mention, every storm is a unique event and the factors that determine what is the safest way to react are different every time. By imposing a too rigid evacuation protocol, officials run the risk of putting many in greater danger than necessary.
So the "triggers," as the mayor's office all but comes out and says here are arbitrary.
GOHSEP’s revelation of the triggers being considered appeared to peeve Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration, which has been hesitant to publicly cite new thresholds for evacuations as repairs are being made to the city's pumps. Instead, administration officials have said they would consider storms on a case-by-case basis.From the looks of things, though, the Governor's office is going to err on the side of covering its own ass. Just something to take into account if and when we have to interpret their actions as Irma or whatever storm that gets into the Gulf next approaches.
And city officials on Friday said any previously announced threshold for evacuation could change, depending on a specific storm’s track, strength and character. They also said that they, not the governor's office, should be considered the final authority on when and whether citizens should leave.