Monday, September 05, 2005

National Geographic predicted Hurricane Katrina

From Ocotober 2004's edition of National Geographic's magazine:

"It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside paid silent homage to the man who invented air-conditioning as they watched TV "storm teams" warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday.

"But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.

"The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level—more than eight feet below in places—so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

"Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

"When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great."

Read the rest of the article here.

I don't think I have that edition of the magazine in my hands, but still it's a chilling thought that a prediction came out so true in reality.


siao ta bo said...

the asian tsunami was predicted too...

Andy said...

siao ta bo: source?

Spot said...

Nothing so chilling. The article wasn't a "prediction" in the paranormal, nostradamus kind of way that you mean.

It was a forewarning, a projection based on scientific fact.

It all boils down to the inescapable fact that it was entirely foreseeable that a category 3 and above hurricane CAN wreak untold damage on New Orleans given the geographical factors.

Big difference btwn forseeability and "prediction".

By the way, if you're actually interested in the science of these things, take a look at the August 2005 issue of National Geographic.

Andy said...

Spot: Yea, but still, there's still the element of luck (or other hidden factors) involved in whether or a prediction/forwarning could actually happen or not. I'm not particularly weirded out by predictions like Nostradamus (btw, his predictions should be taken with quite a bit of salt).

And also, I've read the Aug 2005 issue already. Forseeablity exactly is prediction. It's just that the latter word gets used too much and the meaning gets diluted nowadays.

willowhippo said...

wasnt aware of this. if it's already somehow expected, it took them a pretty damn long time to react 0.o

Jin said...

Where did you find this article? As in, how come you know of it? Sorry, cos I don't subscribe to National Geographic.