Hurricane Preparedness: wind speed vs. storm surge

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NEW ORLEANS — A lot of folks only pay attention to the category of the storm — is it a tropical storm, a Category 1, a Category 3? But that doesn’t convey all the information you need to make a decision to protect your life and your property.

A great example is the most recent hurricane to affect South Louisiana, Hurricane Isaac in 2012. Isaac was a Category 1, a fact that led to a lot of people letting their guard down because they had made it through plenty of Category 1 storms.

What made Isaac different was how slow the storm was moving. Not only does a slow moving storm like Isaac have a tremendous storm surge that sweeps through, it also dumps torrential amounts of rain. The official total for the city of New Orleans was over 20 inches from Hurricane Isaac.

Another example is Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. Allison remained a tropical storm or depression for two weeks along the Gulf Coast and brought devastating flooding to Southeast Texas and South Louisiana. Thibodaux saw nearly 30 inches of rain from this storm, a storm that never even came close to reaching hurricane status.

That’s why it’s important to not only look at the maximum winds of the storm, but also the other information meteorologists are giving out so you can make an informed decision to protect your family’s lives.


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