Via the Washington Post comes this scary image of what downtown New Orleans would possibly look like if global sea levels rose by a meter. As you can see, tailgating for Saints games will become an amphibious affair. The map was produced by the Tumblr site #DrownYourTown and you can check out what could potentially happen to cities like New York City, Washington D.C. and even inland metro areas like Pittsburgh.
Granted, the #DrownYourTown maps happen to forecast mostly worst-case scenarios for most cities. The New Orleans map is modeled on a one-meter rise in sea level, which according to the EPA won't happen until after the year 2050. But before you go dismissing these images as internet fear-mongering, remember that this is actually old news for Louisiana. As The Lens reported in February 2013, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that Louisiana will see the "highest level of sea-level rise on the planet".
The entire article is worth a read if you want a quick, albeit sort of depressing, look at the future of Louisiana's coastline. But while disappearing wetlands has long been a concern to this state, severe weather over the past two decades has prompted other states to adopt more sophisticated coastline mapping technologies. Per the Post article:
After Hurricane Floyd practically leveled the [North Carolina] in 1999, the state legislature ponied up cash to become the first state in the nation mapped through a new process called lidar.
Lidar — which stands for Light Detection and Ranging — uses airborne lasers to examine the surface of the earth and produce uncommonly detailed and accurate elevation maps. The technology is so revolutionary, it has been credited with locating the legendary Lost City of the Monkey God in an otherwise impenetrable Central American rain forest.
North Carolina is not alone in trying to map out and plan for rising sea levels. In January 2013, Virginia commissioned a study on the potential dangers posed to the state by rising sea levels. In addition, the NOAA has its own interactive map that displays lidar measurements and helps people gauge property damage caused by rising sea levels, though it takes some patience to figure out. Climate Central's Surging Seas website has a simpler version with a clearer picture of what would happen to the New Orleans metro area.
Unfortunately, all of these maps have one thing in common: they show New Orleans being scarily susceptible to serious damage due to rising sea levels. Considering the type of flooding this city seas during heavy rains, it's enough to make you run for the hills (if we had any to run to, that is).
After a day and night of freezing temperatures and the infamous "wintry mix" of sleet, freezing rain and snow flurries around south Louisiana, the National Weather Service has canceled the winter storm warning. City officials regrouped this morning with updates and a report from the day's rare weather events — with a warning that icy conditions and a hard freeze warning will last until 9 a.m. tomorrow. An update on school, government and road closures is expected by 3 p.m. today.
"The sun will not be out to melt the ice," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. While temperatures are expected to rise slightly from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., they'll plunge again tonight, and today's cloud cover won't help melt any ice on roads and bridges. Landrieu and other officials warned residents to stay off the roads. "Take the risk if you like, but the risk is very, very high," Landrieu said.
The New Orleans Police Department responded to 59 accidents last night, 24 of which required EMS attention. Two accidents involved cars swerving into waterways to avoid pedestrians. The New Orleans Fire Department responded to one fire, started by a space heater. NOFD chief Timothy McConnell once again warned residents to use space heaters in well-ventilated areas.
Area shelters helped more than 700 people escape the cold last night. The city has reactivated its freeze plan for the homeless.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport director Iftikhar Ahmad said some flights are departing but to check with airlines before heading to MSY — and to use Airline Highway as an alternate route to the airport.
"We're not finished yet," Landrieu said. "We're still in harm's way, according to the National Weather Service."
Mayor Mitch Landrieu and city officials urge New Orleans to stay indoors today and possibly tomorrow or through Thursday as a winter storm of freezing rain and sleet heads south. Officials say weather will hit at 2 p.m. this afternoon.
"Residents must be prepared for what is definitely coming our way," Landrieu said. "Two things are going to happen today: it's going to get colder, and it's going to get wet."
Officials warned drivers to stay of the roads unless it's an emergency as ice falls from trees and powerlines and develops on roads. "Don't let the conditions right now fool you," said New Orleans Police Department chief Ronal Serpas. "Rain, ice and standing ice are on the way."
All flights out of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport are canceled today and possibly tomorrow. The last flight of today left at 11 a.m. Airport director Iftikhar Ahmad said they hope to resume flights Thursday.
Below is a recap of the city's response with a list of numbers and contacts:
An arctic cold front is on its way bringing with it northerly winds, freezing rain, sleet and possibly snow over the next two days, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Mayor Mitch Landrieu has issued a declaration of emergency to prepare for the worst.
For up-to-the-minute news on New Orleans emergency services, go to ready.nola.gov or follow @NOLAReady on Twitter.
Here's the city's official statement, complete with emergency numbers, safety tips and possible road and bridge closures.
Roads and bridges will be icy, and the NWS is cautioning drivers to be cautious driving, or notto drive at all. Power outages will also be a possibility in areas where ice accumulates. Entergy New Orleans says potential outages could last between three to five days.
New Orleans City Hall will be closed for the next two days, as will city services and libraries. Jefferson Parish government offices and libraries will be closed Tuesday. Schools in Jefferson and Orleans Parish, including both the public schools and the RSD, are closed.The bus will replace streetcar routes. All Audubon Institute attractions are closed tomorrow.
Flights in and out of New Orleans could be canceled over the next two days. Check with your airline.
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