Hurricane Gustav – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

As part of my (recent!) continuing mission to question all politically motivated acts based on scientific data, I’ve decided to check up whether the boffins are right or if Mayor Ray Nagin is pulling a fast one, or even if it’s a knee-jerk over-reaction following the public cock-up that was Katrina.

New Orleans residents flee storm

Well that’s pretty unequivocal about where they expect it to land….

Hurricane Gustave at 31/08/2008 10:20 GMT

First I checked a predictor site: this one’s good.  It’s predicted track is right where the mayor says it’ll be.

😕 However, don’t these things jink and curve around, I thought.

Hurricane Tracks Historical Data Sequentially Superimposed

Yes they do.  This is a map of ALL hurricane tracks since 1851!  It from NOAA.

It looks like a child (or Jackson Pollock) has gone mad with crayons.  But I can spot a general trend.  Cuba seems to be the cusp of a knife-edge switch point. i.e. any storms tracking south of the island tend to go straight on, those to the north curve sharp right at some point in an otherwise straight track.  Apart from the fact that a lot of storms are perpendicularly tracked to these, I can’t get much.

Now lets see an animation of historical storms.  This can be found here:  This is very good as it gives an excellent view of the actual ground speed of the storm’s passage, rather than it’s track alone, as it’s buffeted by surrounding air masses on it’s way.

Try this.  Clear the screen and

  • Add Camille (1969)
  • Now Frederick (1979)
  • Now Ivan (2004)
  • Finally, whack in Gustav from 2008.

From this short list of similarly tracked storms and the similar sort of speed and tracking they do, I think the Mayor is right!

So run for your lives…except, be careful.  The reality is that more people will be killed in car crashes escaping than would’ve been hurt by the storm, assuming the water doesn’t top the banks.  A further reality is that the levees still aren’t high enough…so run for your lives!

So far, the storm has killed 80 people in nearly a week, NONE in Cuba.

By Strangely

Founding member of the gifted & talented band, "The Crawling Chaos" from the North-East of England.