Hurricane Gustav is looking pretty damn scary for those people in New Orleans. I hope that this time, the people there are listening to Mayor Ray Nagin and evacuate, because it sure looks like this storm has their name on it. It may be even worse than Katrina was, depending on where it makes landfall and how strong it is when it hits.
Why worse than Katrina? Well, contrary to what you might think, that storm wasn't a worst-case scenario for New Orleans (although it WAS the worst-case scenario for the Mississippi coast, which got the brunt of Katrina's winds and storm surge), because Katrina went east of the city. The current track for Gustav has it going just west of New Orleans, meaning the the front right quadrant of the storm, which has the strongest winds and the highest storm surge, would hit southeastern Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain. That would increase the likelihood of the city's levees failing or being overtopped by the storm surge, and New Orleans once again being flooded. In addition, the city could see Category 4 winds of 140 miles per hour or more, much stronger than they did during Katrina.
It's raining here in southwest Florida right now as we are on the outer edges of the storm. There's a bit of a breeze, but nothing major. This isn't our storm. Tropical Storm Hanna, which is slowly meandering toward the Bahamas, might be, or perhaps one of the other tropical waves coming off of Africa. During hurricane season, you have to remain alert.
If you're a praying person, say one for the people on the Louisiana coast. They're going to need it.
Update 8:45 p.m.: Gustav looks to have weakened a bit, down to a Cat 3 at 115 mph. The 8 p.m. EDT update has the center of the track moving a little farther west, which means that New Orleans may (may!) dodge the bullet and just get a really bad storm instead of a catastrophic one. They're still going to be on the wrong side of the storm, but the further west the landfall is, the better for the city. Keep your fingers crossed for them.