NEW ORLEANS — Hurricane Gustav strengthened into a dangerous storm today, and as city officials started evacuation plans, some residents weren’t waiting to be told to leave.
Cars packed with clothes, boxes and pet carriers drove north among heavy traffic on Interstate 55, a major route out of the city. Gas stations around the city hummed. And nursing homes and hospitals began sending patients farther inland.
“I’m getting out of here. I can’t take another hurricane,” said Ramona Summers, 59, whose house flooded during Katrina. She hurried to help friends gather their belongings. Her car was already packed for Gonzales, nearly 60 miles away to the west of New Orleans.
I had an email yesterday from a blog friend from New Orleans saying they were hitting the road out of town. I am sure today will see more heading out…
Gustav a major hurricane; aimed at northern Gulf
Hurricane Gustav has rapidly strengthened overnight into a major Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds. This was anticipated given the high heat content of the waters now being traversed by Gustav.
I expect Gustav to remain a major hurricane for at least the next few days and it will probably get quite a bit stronger. The one mitigating factor is that wind shear over the central Gulf of Mexico is forecast by some models to increase by early next week, a factor that may possibly weaken Gustav prior to landfall.
So where’s it going? The official forecast, which doesn’t reflect the latest computer model guidance, brings the storm into central Louisiana early Tuesday and bends it into East Texas by Thursday morning.
Under such a scenario Houston would miss out on Gustav’s high winds and strong surge, and all of Texas would miss the cyclone’s “dirty side.”
As a result, at this time, there appears to be only a 20 to 40 percent chance that Houston gets at least tropical storm force winds from Gustav.
SciGuy: Gustav a major hurricane; aimed at northern Gulf.
The models do not leave me feeling real safe yet though…