It is called the most important bulletin ever issued by the National Weather Service.
Some national new agencies thought it was a hoax.
I was watching the weather-wires on that morning in August 2005 and saw the statement move from the National Weather Service New Orleans office in Slidell. I knew it was real and was not issued lightly.
What many don’t know is, the statement was written for Tampa Bay.
Yes, the National Weather Service office in Ruskin developed a project to develop call to action and impact statements for a hurricane hitting Tampa Bay.
NWS Ruskin meteorologist Barry Goldsmith (now the Warning Coordination Meteorologist, National Weather Service Brownsville, Texas) told me he wrote the statement with the assistance of then-Ruskin Warning Coordination Meteorologist Walt Zaleski and Science Operations Officer Charlie Paxton (Charlie is still with the Ruskin office).
The late Dick Fletcher motivated them to develop more information on impacts such winds would bring to our communities.
Barry said, “The evolution of this effort from seeds that I helped sow is the highlight of my career, especially when I hear anecdotes that mention how these real-life impacts cemented a family's decision to evacuate, board up ... and survive!”
Although written for Tampa Bay, New Orleans NWS Forecaster Robert Ricks made a few edits and then “pulled the trigger” and sent this statement to the world on that Sunday morning, almost 24 hours before landfall, eight years ago as New Orleans tried to evacuate.
We all know what happened when Katrina hit early the next morning.
Here's that bulletin from Sunday, Aug. 28, 2005:
URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
1011 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005
…DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED…
.HURRICANE KATRINA…A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED
STRENGTH…RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969.
MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS…PERHAPS LONGER. AT
LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL
FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL…LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY
DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.
THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL.
PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD
FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE
BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE…INCLUDING SOME
WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.
HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY…A
FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.
AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD…AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH
AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY
VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE
ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS…PETS…AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE
WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.
POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS…AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN
AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING
INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY
THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING…BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW
CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE
AN INLAND HURRICANE WIND WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS NEAR
HURRICANE FORCE…OR FREQUENT GUSTS AT OR ABOVE HURRICANE FORCE…ARE
CERTAIN WITHIN THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS.
ONCE TROPICAL STORM AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ONSET…DO NOT VENTURE