OR-AMS Dinner Summary: March 18, 2006
On a cold Saturday evening, 16 members and guests gathered around a warmly lit fireplace in a private dinning room at Francis Xaviers to enjoy a great dinner and listen to Jeff Baskin (KOIN-6 Chief Meteorologist) talk about his experience with Hurricane Katrina. He was working at FOX affiliate WUEV in New Orleans and had accepted a job offer at KOIN-6 in Portland. Jeff was packing and a day away from moving when Hurricane Katrina struck. He displayed many NOAA graphics showing the observed and forecasted path of the storm. The tracking accuracy was excellent. Katrina gained major strength when the storm moved over a very warm current in the central Gulf of Mexico. Jeff advised his friends to leave town by Friday, a full day before official voluntary evacuation calls were made, and three days before Katrina made land-fall. Some refused to leave New Orleans because of the false belief that past strong hurricanes (such as Betsy in 1967) did not inflict as much damage as was feared. Katrina proved everyone to be wrong. The horrific slides of the destruction of New Orleans that he showed were amazing and sad. Jeff came to Portland with little more than the clothes he wore.
Jeff returned to New Orleans to his old apartment in December to see what remained of his belongings. Jeff was stunned to find that mold and mildew growth, as a result of weeks of standing floodwaters, had penetrated every wall and object of his multi-story apartment building, infecting everything in its path. His slides showed what looked like centuries old rot on everything.
The audience asked many good thoughtful questions and implications of Jeff’s experience. We are all grateful for him sharing with us a Katrina story—from a weatherman’s viewpoint.
Note-taker: Kyle Dittmer, OR-AMS President