I sure wish Mama were alive tonight.
She could give me an accurate comparison between Katrina, bearing down on the Gulf Coast, and Camille, which ravaged the Gulf Coast of Mississippi in August, 1969.
It can be argued that Camille was the worst hurricane ever to hit the U.S. mainland (but the 1900 Galveston storm, the 1935 Labor Day storm, and Hurricane Andrew were certainly as bad).
Andrew, when it hit Florida, was devastating, but relatively tight, small, so to speak. Hurricane Betsy in 1965 wasn't as strong, but was as big.
The best description I've heard today is that Katrina, "has the power of Camille and is as big as Betsy". That's a horrific combination.
Pray for everyone in metro New Orleans, the lowlands, the Mississippi Coast, Mobile, Jackson, and even as far inland as Nashville, Tennessee. It's going to be a very long next 48 hours throughout that region.
902-905 millibars at the eye. That's incredible. Only a couple of storms worldwide have gone under the 900 millibar point, so we are looking at, possibly, a "once-in-a-generation" storm.
As I guess you can see now, I'm a big weather freak. I watch the Weather Channel at some point about every day. When bad weather strikes, I'm watching. Right now I have the video feed of WWL-TV, the CBS affiliate in New Orleans.
Watching TV through this evening, you hear a different tone in the voice of officials, that lead me to think they are thinking, rather in terms of "maybe dodging the bullet", to "how catastrophic this will end up being".
I return to the Camille comparison for this reason: residents in Tennessee, Kentucky, and other states in Katrina's path and to her east over the next few days....
In 1969, Camille eventually, as it weakened, turned back east. By the time it began affecting the Appalachian Mountains, it was "only" a low pressure system.
It dumped a record 27 inches of rain in Nelson County, Virginia, which is just outside of Charlottesville. Several fatalities reported. Then the water rushed down the James River, and Richmond received record flooding.
The storm came inland in Mississippi, and it caused record flooding in Richmond, Virginia.
Think about it.
That is why we should look at storms and events like this with awe, and with genuine fear and concern. Heck, Isabel was a tropical storm in '03 when it came through here and some people were without power for seven, eight, nine days and more. In fact, about a mile from the house, I cross over a small creek, where to this day, several huge trees are fallen over; a constant reminder of September 18, 2003.
And if Isabel was "only" a tropical storm...and if Camille was "only" a low pressure system when it affected Virginia....that should put in perspective what millions of people are about to face.
Godspeed and God's mercy upon them all.