A good lesson learned from Barry

Before the Sunday Story, I want to give you an update on Barry. He remains a tropical storm, with winds of 45 mph and is located in west, central Louisiana at this hour. The storm is expected to track slowly north into the western Arkansas over the coming days.

The storm is producing torrential rainfall across Louisiana, with numerous reports of flooding and power outages. So far, the pumping systems are working in New Orleans an the flood walls are holding.

The track of Barry places our region on the eastern side of the storm, which is the side most influenced by the warm, humid air being pulled up, and the greatest chance for rain and storms. Therefore, we will have a 40-60% chance of rain each day through Wednesday. Just be aware of that. Any storm that develops could produce torrential rainfall. I picked up 1.5″ at my house just yesterday.

Sunday Story

Today’s Sunday Story is a bit different and I’m going to focus on Barry. I learned a good lesson yesterday from a story published by the Washington Post. They wrote a story about how residents of New Orleans were panicking and fleeing the city by the masses. It was all untrue.

Then, Al Roker advised residents to be prepared to evacuate, if they hadn’t already done so. He was certain a devastating flood unlike anything they had ever seen was coming. He was certain they were fools for staying. “Take it from a meteorologist….”

The residents have pretty much stayed put. By the way, Roker isn’t a meteorologist. He just plays one on TV.

Although, he did have that cousin who lived in New Orleans once, so there’s that. That pretty much makes him an expert, right?

I then thought about some of the things I’ve sent you all in the blog. How I worried so much about the city; the flood walls, the flood gates, the levees, the lack of evacuations, etc. Don’t get me wrong, we’re right to worry. Many of us have not forgotten Katrina and all those horrific images of bodies in the streets, folks waving from roofs they punched holes through to get upon, the cries for help…. Can you believe it’s been 14 years?

We just have to remember what exactly happened in Katrina; a levee system built by the government failed. A wall built by the lowest bidder failed to hold up in a great big flood.

Katrina was already gone. She had moved away and partly cloudy skies were returning when that levee failed. It wasn’t during the storm, Washington Post.

Katina wasn’t a category 5 hurricane either, as numerous national news outlets continue to report even today. Katrina had been a cat 5 way out in the Gulf, but she weakened to a low-end cat 3 before making landfall EAST of New Orleans. The brunt of the storm missed New Orleans altogether.

Still, that city is just over 300 years old and many of the residents are life-long residents with LONG family ties to the region. They know how to weather a storm. Barry isn’t the first one to come their way, though you wouldn’t know that from reading the Washington Post or New York Times…….or by watching The Weather Channel.

I know, leave Cantore alone. But, seriously?

Yes, New Orleans sits below sea level (for the most part) but they are home to one of the best water pumping systems in the world. In the world! It works, too. One day last week (I think it was Thursday?) the city received seven inches of rain in one day. One day! The streets flooded with a foot or two of water and, well, there was water everywhere. But, the pumps did their thing and in a few hours the streets were left with mere puddles.

They’ve seen this a million times.

And stop giving the Army Corps of Engineers their day in the news. Their story changes by the day or by the person being interviewed. One day they have no confidence in the flood walls and the next day they have nothing but confidence in the flood walls.

This is why the national media loves them. The local media doesn’t even bother talking to them anymore. I appreciate the Army Corps of Engineers but interviews with national media folks is not their thing.

So, I propose we leave Louisiana alone. Let the governor of Louisiana, the mayor of New Orleans, and ALL the folks in between decide what to do. Why don’t I just let them be and if the city has a disastrous flood I can say “I told ya so.” But, considering the human suffering that would come with being right about that, is that really something I wish to say? No, it’s not.

The Washington Post did such an injustice on their reporting of this story that it prompted a response from the Mayor of New Orleans. He asked them to please check sources, etc. before running a story. In other words, use the skills you would use if you were a local hometown reporter. Have they really forgotten that basic tenant of journalism?

They had no comment to that rebuttal from the Mayor. They never do. None of them ever do.

They even ran a picture of two gentlemen toting their suitcases behind them as they walked down the street. That was their example of part of the “mass exodus” of people fleeing the city of doomed city.  It trns out the gentlemen were just checking out of their hotel because their stay in the Big Easy had come to an end. A local reporter tracked them down and found that out.

Such a shame, though,  because it was a really good picture! I bet those guys are having more than one laugh about that one.

So, while the rest of the country reads the sensational headlines of doom and gloom, the city of New Orleans drags out all their sandbags (most people keep them close by, just in case) and they’ll stock up on water, non-perishable food, etc. They know the drill.

They’ve done this a million times.

And the bars were packed last night, just as they always are on a Saturday night. I bet they’re laughing about the foretold apocalypse making headlines across the national news outlets. I imagine a “Cheers to the hurricane that will doom us all!” has been made more than once, in more than one bar, followed by some good laughs.

I can’t imagine the drinking games thought up of while watching CNN, FOX, MSNBC…my Lord, how many of these competing outlets are there these days?

So, the lesson here is this…careful what you read. The national news folks tend to think they know it all but they know so little, especially when it comes to local weather disasters.  I’ve seen this too many times.  Trust your local news/weather before you trust the national folks. Always.

Your local news/weather knows the culture of the area, the microclimates, the weather, etc.  They tell us to calm down and that everything will be alright. Listen to them.

Let’s just do our best to not get drawn into the hype of the national weather headlines that absolutely scream “BUY MY PAPER!” or “WATCH MY STATION!” They tell you to panic  and that everything will never be alright. Ignore them.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to criticizing Californians for the way they handle earthquakes. I mean, I’m kinda an expert. You do realize I have cousins who live there, so there’s that, right?

Or maybe I should just leave them be and let them do what they do?

And to Louisiana and New Orleans, I want to say that I apologize for doubting.


5-day outlook (9)

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