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Watching Harvey

LSU Earth Scan Lab

We’re watching Harvey.  No, not the 1950 movie starring Jimmy Stewart, or even the LSU tiger re-christened Mike VII on Monday. This Harvey is the tropical system that fell apart in the Caribbean this past weekend and is now regenerating in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The sea surface temperatures there are at about 84 degrees, which is plenty warm, and the wind shear is very light so conditions are very conducive for this storm to re-form,” explains state climatologist Barry Keim.

He says the computer models currently are sending it to Texas as a minimal hurricane, with landfall likely on Friday. But that’s no guarantee our coast is clear.

“Anything striking the coast that close to Louisiana means it could probably end up in Louisiana, so we definitely need to watch this thing,” Keim warns.

Louisiana will likely be in the system’s northeast quadrant, with the heaviest rains and strongest winds. That’s a worry for New Orleans, as its pumping system is currently undergoing repairs.

“Between now and September 4th or 5th, we’re in a more vulnerable period than we need to be in, but there’s no reason to panic,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu says. “We’ve been through many of these things before. Given the weather systems, we’re watching them very, very closely. We have an entire team of people just being prepared and leaning forward, in the event that we need it.”

Governor John Bel Edwards says GOHSEP is standing up the state crisis action team this morning.

“We’re going to rely upon the experience that we have in Louisiana, preparing for and responding to disasters – which is more than we would like to have, but it certainly comes in handy when we need it,” the governor says.

Also handy is yesterday’s visit from FEMA Director Brock Long, who met with both the governor and Mayor Landrieu in Baton Rouge.

“And we’re working very closely,” Long assures.