Hurricane Betsy was an erratic hurricane with movement taking her nearly up 30 deg north then abruptly turning south around the southern tip of Florida. Key Largo was hit directly then the New Orleans area would be next.The death toll reached 75 when all was said & done.Both Florida & louisiana were very lucky as things could have been much worse.

Vital statistics as follows:

  • Nassau,Bahamas 126mph
  • North tip of Andros Island 126mph
  • Key Largo,Florida hit with 126mph
  • Tavernier,Florida gusts to 120mph
  • Plantation key,Florida gusts to 100mph
  • Key West,Florida gusts to 81mph
  • Miami bch,Florida gusts to 91mph
  • At 28.3N x 89.2W 50miles s.e of louisiana coast 155mph
  • Port Sulfur,Louisiana gusts to 136mph
  • New Orleans 105mph
  • S.Florida 6 ft storm surge
  • East Louisiana 8 to 10 ft storm surge
  • Lowest Pressure 941mb or 27.76inch
  • Born as cape verde storm August 27th & died sept 11th over the southeast U.S
  • Betsy was cloud seeded with limited success,scientist blamed for the intensity of the storm.


     The National Weather Service has just issued a "Hurricane Warning for..."
    No words create greater fear into the hearts of residents along the Atlantic and Gulf  coasts of The United States.
    Hurricanes are often refered to as "The Greatest Storms on Earth".
     They have the potential to cause widespread destruction and loss of life.
    Six Hurricanes develop from ten Tropical Storms in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico during an average year.
    The Normal Hurricane season runs from th 1st of June to the 30th of November, though storms have occurred both earlier and

    The word "Hurricane" originally came from the natives of the West Indies or Central America.  It is claimed by some to be a Carib Indian word signifying "Big Wind".  To the Indians of Guatemala the god of stormy weather was "Hurrakan".

    While much of the information on this and the other hurricane pages linked below deal with Louisiana in general and the New Orleans area in particular, a great deal of the information is general in nature an can be applied to any area.

    Louisiana Hurricane Facts
    First Recorded Storm - September 1711
    Earliest Storm - April 3, 1846
    Earliest Strom Normal Hurricane Season (June - November) - June 2, 1871
    Longest Period Between Storms - 18 Years (September 1722 - September 1740)
    Shortest Period Between Storms - 10 Days (Aug 22, 1879 - Sept 1, 1879)
    Most Storms During One Year - 1860 & 1985 Both With Deadliest Louisiana Storm - October 1893 - 2,000 People Killed
    Deadliest Louisiana Storm (Modern Times) - June 1957 (Audrey) - 556 People Killed

    *Note - This is the Deadliest Storm in Modern U.S. History

    Most Expensive Storm - August 1992 (Andrew) - $1Billion

    Storm Frequency in Louisiana

    A storm can be expected within 80 miles of the following points with the following frequency.

    Type Lake Charles New Orleans
    Cat 1 once every... 8 Years 8 Years
    Cat 2 once every... 19 Years 19 Years
    Cat 3 once every... 35 Years 32 Years
    Cat 4 once every... 72 Years 70 Years
    Cat 5 once every... 210 Years 180 Years

    Since 1899, 25 storms have made direct hits on Louisiana, 12 of these were major storms - Catagory 3, 4, & 5

    Hurricane forecasters consider New Orleans the most dangerous area in the United States for storm surge.
    The combination of the extensive shallow coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico along the Louisiana coast and the numerous bayous and tidal lakes in the area contribute to higher storm surges than would be found in other areas.
    New Orleans is shaped a lot like a saucer with many areas below sealevel.  Hurricane protection levees have been built in the New Orleans area.  While these levees help protect the comunity during minimal hurricanes, computer modeling of storm surge effects that most levees in Southeast Louisiana could be overtopped by the storm surge generated by the direct strike of a major hurricane.
    Take Camille in 1969 - if the storm had made a small "jog" to the left it could have followed a path similar to the one shown on this map created by the National Weather Services SLOSH model.  The storm shown as a category 4 storm (Camille was a Category 5) and on this path would leave water 20 feet deep in parts of downtown New Orleans.
    Another dangerous scenario for New Orleans would be a slow moving (5 -7 ) category 3 storm moving North out of the Gulf of Mexico.  With winds of 111 - 130 mph the storm would first push water from the Barataria Basin over Westbank levees.  As the storm move over Lake Pontchatrain it would start a backwash of water over levees on the Eastbank.  This could leave much of the metro New Orleans area under 8 - 14 feet of water.  If none of the levees fail, and with the city's pumping stations fully operational, it would take from 3 to 5 days to begin to make headway against the floods.
    Louisiana has experience with storm surge - Betsy in September 1965 killed 75 and flooded many areas, Audrey in June 1957 killed in excess of 500, the storm of October 1893 killed 2,000.  Most deaths from these storms were caused by flooding.
    What is the answer to this problem?

    With that said - The Office of Emergency Preparedness estimates it would take 72 - 82 hours to evacuate the approximate 1.2 million people in the metro New Orleans area.  The only escape route from New Orleans (Interstate 10) is well known for monumental traffic jams during rush hour, this will only become more packed if a quick evacuation is necessary.  It must also be remembered that many other routes are through low lying areas and may flood early, and that when winds reach 55 mph most routes out of New Orleans will be closed.
    72 hours before Andrew (August 1992) hit the Louisiana coast it was 6 hours East of Miami in the Atlantic Ocean and no one knew where it was going to go.  A turn just hours before its Louisiana landfall would have put it right on top of New Orleans.
    The following chart shows just how difficult deciding on when to call for an evacuation becomes.  The chart shows different speeds of storms and the 72 hour distance from the New Orleans area.  the further out to sea the storm is, the more difficult to predict where it will make landfall.

    Storm Speed 72 Hour Distance
    5 mph 360 miles
    8 mph576 miles
    10 mph 720 miles
    12 mph864 miles
    15 mph 1080 miles

    Added to these problems is the fact that the Red Cross will no longer man shelters South of Interstate 12 and the National Weather Service has discovered that high rise buildings, thought to be good "shelters of last resort", have problems of their own.  Recent studies show that winds at 100 - 300 feet can be as much as 50% stronger than those at ground level.  This can mean that 75 mph winds at ground level, a minimal hurricane, could reach 300 mph on the 15th floor.

    The City has designated shelters of last resort, but, the locations will not be given out until needed.

    Bottom Line?

    Evacuate Early! The sooner you start your evacuation the less chance you have of being caught in traffic, high winds, or rising

    This page is provide for general information.
    If a storm is approaching your area listen to official information from your local government and act accordingly.

    Make your emergency plans well in advance and remember friends, neighbors
    and family!

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