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Katrina updates...

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It's not uncommon for us to find 200 mph gusts in Cat 5 storms. I've personally seen it a few times. We fly the storms at 10,000', penetrating the eyewall with the standard altimeter, 29.92, set. Pretty neat ride since it's a pressure altitude. As we hit the pressure center of the eye the absolute altitude (agl) will drop down more than 2,000', depending on the pressure. With Katrina's super low pressure I'm sure it's that much. Last night, when I flew it we saw the pressure drop from 940 to 934 millibars. We fly "alpha patterns;" entering the storm on intercardinal tracks (135, 225, 045, 315) and flying 105 nm legs from/to the eye on those tracks. As with my flight last night, we often don't encounter a lot of turbulence on the really strong storms since their winds are uniform. It's when they're just getting going and when they're weakening that we get a lot of turbulence since the windfield is uneven.

As far as the Superdome goes, it shouldn't have much trouble. It is a massive building and is round, which should bode well for wind deflection. The city can pump water out, true, but it's pumped into the Mississippi River, which stands a good chance of being flooded during the storm. It's gonna be a mess, regardless.
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This is so horrible for the people of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and potentially, Texas and Florida.

After the devastation, I think we should all be thankful that we are alive, and give to help others. I know there are several flightinfo members that live in that area.

Looks like the cooler waters along the coast are helping out:
It's now a Cat 4 with winds of 150mph and pressure of 917mb.

Wow I was hoping someone on here would have a first hand account from one of the flights. Still don't think I'd wanna do it. Your statement about the turbulence, or in this case the lack of it amazes me. I would not have thought that a storm like this could be relatively smooth if there is such a thing for a hurricane. How bad though does it really get? Moderate turbulence at worst or severe turbulence where the aicraft is temporarily out of control? What about lightning? Especially at night is there much lightning?

You folks are very brave and do an invaluable service for all of us, thank you. Hope the safe flights continue.

BTW, Lt. Nicole Mitchell (of The Weather Channel) was a surprise. You never know who all is involved with your squadron.
Just some updates.

Water is spilling out of Lake Ponchatrain into the New Orleans area.

There has been atleast 1 levee failure on the "Industrial Canal".

Outside the city there is considerable flooding...up to rooftops in many locations.

Wind damage was severe in New Orleans.

Storm surge was extreme on the eastern side of the storm.

Gulfport and Mobile had extreme storm surge. Some of downtown Mobile has 6+ feet of water. At gulfport, the storm surge came in 2 miles from the beach.

There are several smaller communities along that coast like St. Louis Bay and Pass Christian which may have suffered the worst fate, no reports from there yet.
KigAir said:

So much for those pumps working. Besides, where are they going to pump the water to?

The pumps were almost guarenteed to fail, once, due to the fact they pump into the Lake, which was the reason for a lot of the flooding, and two, they are powered by electrocity, which was expected to give out. The backup deisel generators aren't expected to be brought online until the national guard units can reach them.

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