Hurricane Harvey has wrecked Houston. Hurricane Irma, the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Atlantic, devastated Tampa and the Florida Keys. Hurricane Maria has been a complete disaster for Puerto Rico. And now, it looks, quite a bit, like New Orleans will need to brace for Tropical Storm Nate, which may become a hurricane before it strikes.
The city of New Orleans and surrounding areas have been struggling with floods thanks to an unusually rainy summer and drainage problems. The city may have to rush to fix the problem where it can, as NOAA foresees Tropical Storm Nate heading more or less directly to the New Orleans area, and strengthening its intensity prior to arrival.
The good news is that NOAA and the spaghetti models agree Nate is unlikely to get above a Category 1 storm. Still, that’s more than enough to worry residents, as storm surge is the most dangerous factor in any hurricane. It was, by far, the worst killer during Hurricane Katrina, as the unexpected surge, the largest ever seen on a US coast, overwhelmed infrastructure and killed thousands.
There is, of course, a degree of uncertainty to hurricane tracking. Irma was on course for a direct hit to Miami before veering instead up Florida’s Gulf coast. That may still happen, although that would likely mean Houston would experience even more rain. But it seems, at least for now, that New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf coast should brace for impact. Even if New Orleans is spared the worst of it, it appears Americans aren’t done with this hurricane season just yet.