Saw it earlier and was going to make a post about it, but it went up and down on the NHC's site all day so I held off. It's a very interesting read and goes into quite a bit of depth on a lot of intensity issues.
There will be arguments all up and down the board for some period of time on the actual intensity at landfall, primarily the intensity of the winds in New Orleans, but most of that will be nitpicking. I have heard a lot of talk that it could've been a lot worse for New Orleans, which I tend to doubt. Yes, they were on the weaker side of a weakening category 3 hurricane, so the wind damage was not nearly as bad as they could have seen. However, the surge was that akin to a category 4 hurricane -- initially driven at category 3 with a lot of category 5 swell built in, even going across Lake Ponchartrain. The whole area east of town essentially flooded from the Gulf inward to the city's periphery. If the storm had gone further west -- i.e. directly over the city -- as a category 4 or even 5 storm, I would make the argument that New Orleans itself would have been spared the flooding damage as most of it would have piled up in St. Charles & St. John the Baptist Parishes, more rural areas that St. Bernard, Orleans, and Jefferson Parishes. Damage still would have rivaled or likely surpassed Andrew, but I feel the loss of life would've been reduced, and most of it would have been covered by insurance (unlike the flooding damage, which most are finding out the hard way that will not be covered without specialized flood insurance).
Needless to say, this was the 'big one' for New Orleans and the northern Gulf Coast, a fact highlighted well by the preliminary report, and I hope that we never end up testing that theory above in real life. Pick your poison, essentially.
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