NOAA: New Orleans At Risk From Cat. 2 Hurricane

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Despite a massive effort to repair and upgrade flood defenses since Hurricane Katrina, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says storm surge could pour over levees in New Orleans if a strong Category 2 or higher hurricane strikes the city.

While the forecast uses what officials say is the most accurate and complete picture yet of the region's levee heights, they said they weren't surprised by findings that reaffirm the area surrounding New Orleans is among the nation's
most hurricane-vulnerable.

The forecast released yesterday represents the first time the yearly storm surge predictions have used levee heights based on global positioning system technology.

A team led by Roy Dokka, the director of the Center for Geoinformatics at LSU, traveled 1,000 miles of levees, flood walls and other coastal features since Katrina with GPS technology mounted on vehicles to obtain the new measurements.

To predict how strong a storm would be to overpower a levee, researchers factor in variables including topography and a storm's wind speeds, size and intensity. The projections on storm surge are used by emergency planners, builders, residents and the Army Corps of Engineers.

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