February 23, 2006

Next Storm Could Cause Big Disaster

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In the wake of the devastating hurricanes of 2005, Americans may be tempted blame meteorology for failing to predict the horrible consequences residents of Louisiana and Mississippi now face.

This isn’t correct, according to Steve Lyons, a tropical weather expert from The Weather Channel.

During his lecture to a full Bache Auditorium yesterday evening about the United States’ increasing vulnerability to large storms, Lyons said that the devastation in New Orleans is “quasi-man-made,” caused by the failure of the storm levee system, a poorly designed evacuation plan and human stubbornness and greediness.

“[New Orleans] is a city that ideally should never have been built [where it was],” Lyons said, citing its low elevation and proximity to the coastline.

Lyons assigned much of the blame for New Orleans’ plight to the failure of the levee system designed to keep water out of the city.

“We [meteorologists] really did not think New Orleans would have a huge problem while [Hurricane Katrina] was unfolding,” he said. “The sustained winds in [the city] were barely Category One.”

Lyons highlighted the futility of evacuating masses of people from a small area in a short period of time.

“You cannot evacuate five million people quickly