Quantcast

Hurricane Expected to Hit Louisiana This Weekend, and New Orleans Is Already Flooding

Climate
Heavy rain from a tropical storm system flooded South Telemachus Street in New Orleans Wednesday morning. SETH HERALD / AFP / Getty Images

The first Atlantic hurricane of the season is expected to hit Louisiana Saturday, and New Orleans is already flooding.


The developing storm system dumped eight inches of rain on the city in around two hours Wednesday morning, National Weather Service New Orleans Meteorologist Phil Grigsby told CNN, inundating roads and homes.

Valerie R. Burton described waking up to the deluge.

"There was about three to four feet of water in the street, pouring onto the sidewalks and at my door," Burton told USA Today. "So, I went to my neighbors to alert them and tell them to move their cars."

But the fear is that things could get much worse over the weekend. The storm is expected to move slowly at 8 miles per hour, giving it more time to dump rain in some places. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said around 10 to 15 inches of rain could fall between Friday and Saturday, as CNN reported.

While New Orleans itself is not in the projected path of the hurricane, meteorologists are still concerned the city could be flooded if the Mississippi crests at 20 feet, as is now predicted. New Orleans is only protected up to 20 feet.

Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground explained how that might happen:

Developing Potential Tropical Cyclone 2 (PTC 2) in the Gulf of Mexico is predicted to bring a storm surge of 3 - 6 feet to Southeast Louisiana, which New Orleans' improved levee system would ordinarily be able to handle with ease. However, these are not ordinary times. The Mississippi River is near flood stage, with the waters of the river lapping just four feet below the lowest point in the levee system protecting the city. If PTC 2 intensifies into Hurricane Barry as forecast, the storm surge from Barry has the potential to move up the Mississippi River and come close to overtopping the lowest points in New Orleans' levee system. If Barry grows stronger than forecast and takes a track closer to New Orleans than currently forecast, the potential for serious storm surge flooding of New Orleans exists.

New Orleans resident Angela Catalano told CNN she already had two feet of water in her basement.

"I'm very concerned about the impending storm, with the Mississippi River near flood stage. I'm very worried about more flooding," she said.

A Nola.com article pinpointed levees along New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward, as well as along St. Bernard Parish and Algiers, that were only between 18 and 19.99 feet, according to Army Corps of Engineers levee data. These levees would be overtopped by a 20 foot flood.

However, corps spokesperson Ricky Boyett told Nola.com that the levees for the Lower 9th Ward were really between 20 and 21 feet.

"Our modeling does not show overtopping of the levees in the 9th," he said.

He said there was one levee segment in St. Bernard that might be at risk, and that officials would fight flooding there as needed.

Whether or not the river does overtop the levees, the risk was made more likely by the climate crisis, meteorologist Eric Holthaus explained in The New Republic.

Louisiana has only seen a July hurricane three times, and all of them were in the last 40 years, Holthaus said. Research suggests climate change might make this more likely as the Gulf of Mexico warms earlier; the Gulf waters are currently closer to August temperatures.


Meanwhile, the Mississippi has been at flood stage in southern Louisiana since Jan. 6, the longest period on record. In general, spring floods are happening earlier as the atmosphere heats up.

"Even if Barry steers away from Louisiana, this won't be the last time the region has to deal with the dual threat of extreme late-season flooding and extreme early-season hurricanes," Holthaus wrote. "As the climate continues to warm, the atmosphere will continue to be able to hold more moisture, increasing the likelihood of intense rainfall in already-wet areas."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Fabian Krause / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Elizabeth Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Paprika is a spice made from the dried peppers of the plant Capsicum annuum.

Read More Show Less
Water protectors of all persuasions gathered in talking circles at Borderland Ranch in Pe'Sla, the heart of the sacred Black Hills, during the first Sovereign Sisters Gathering. At the center are Cheryl Angel in red and white and on her left, Lyla June. Tracy Barnett

By Tracy L. Barnett

Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.

For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Hedges, 2019 © Hugh Hayden. All photos courtesy of Lisson Gallery

By Patrick Rogers

"I'm really into trees," said the sculptor Hugh Hayden. "I'm drawn to plants."

Read More Show Less
BruceBlock / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Thanks to their high concentration of powerful plant compounds, foods with a natural purple hue offer a wide array of health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Environmental Investigation Agency

By Genevieve Belmaker

Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jessica Kourkounis / Stringer

The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.

"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.

The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.

"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."

The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.

"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."

Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.

Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.

If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.

"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

Pixabay

By Manuella Libardi

Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY / THE OCEAN AGENCY

Hope may be on the horizon for the world's depleted coral reefs thanks to scientists who successfully reproduced endangered corals in a laboratory setting for the first time, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less