Sunday, October 30, 2011

Our Visit with Chief Meteorologist Carl Arredondo

As mentioned in our previous post, our three reading classes -- Intermediate, Advanced, and Pilot (those students taking courses at Loyola University New Orleans as well as two credit-bearing intensive English courses) -- are reading the book ZEITOUN by Dave Eggers. This book tells the true story of the Zeitoun family of New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina.

To gain a better understanding of hurricanes in general and of Hurricane Katrina in particular, we at the Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP) invited Mr. Carl Arredondo, Chief Meterologist at WWL-TV in New Orleans to visit us on Wednesday, October 26, and talk with us about hurricanes.

Mr. Carl Arredondo,
Chief Meteorologist
at WWL-TV in New Orleans
Mr. Arredondo told us that he was fascinated with weather even as a child. When a television meteorologist visited his sixth-grade class and talked to the students about forecasting the weather, Mr. Arredondo knew that this would be his career choice, too. Accordingly, Mr. Arredondo studied meteorology in college and eventually came to New Orleans in 1991 as a meteorologist for WWL-TV, where he is now Chief Meteorologist.

Mr. Arredondo explained that we are now in a cycle of greater hurricane activity that began in 1995. When asked how long we could expect this cycle to last, Mr. Arredondo replied that no one knows but that the previous cycle of greater hurricane activity lasted over forty years. Mr. Arredondo explained that, even within cycles of greater hurricane activity, there can be an odd year of lesser hurricane activity, and vice versa.

Mr. Arrendondo told us about two currently-used systems for predicting hurricane activity. One is the system used by Dr. Gray at Colorado State University. Dr. Gray makes his yearly predictions based on hurricane activity in years with atmospheric conditions most similar to those in the current year. This system is best at predicting numbers of hurricanes in a given year. The other is the system used by the Hurricane Research Center in Houston. This system makes predictions based on sun activity and is best at predicting where hurricanes are likely to make landfall in a given year.

Mr. Arredondo talked about the length of the yearly hurricane season -- June 1 through November 30, with the peak on September 10. He emphasized that storms can occur at any time, though, even outside the official hurricane season. He also showed us the six rotating lists of alphabetical hurricane names. Every six years, we use the same list of hurricane names, but when a hurricane is particularly destructive and memorable, its name is retired and replaced with a new name beginning with the same letter. This year, 2011, we are using the same list of hurricane names that we used six years ago in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina. However, there will never be another Hurricane Katrina! The name Katrina has been replaced with Katia.

Hurricane Katrina
Mr. Arredondo shared his own Hurricane Katrina experience with us. He showed us a video of his first return to his flooded home in Slidell, Louisiana, soon after the hurricane. He explained that the flooding of Slidell, a city to the east of New Orleans and of Lake Pontchartrain, was due to the tremendous storm surge. Mr. Arredondo told us that, just because a hurricane's strength lessens (Hurricane Katrina, at one time a Category 5 hurricane, had lessened to Category 3 when it passed through the New Orleans area), the storm surge does not lessen. After the storm surge pushed into the western part of Lake Pontchartrain, it slashed back forcefully into Slidell, flooding many homes there, including Mr. Arrendondo's. Mr. Arredondo said that one of his most difficult tasks after the hurricane was explaining to his children that all of their toys and belongings were gone.

Mr. Arredondo emphasized the importance of good preparation for the hurricane season. He stressed the importance of evacuation, of planning where we will go, and of giving that contact information to our family and friends. He also said that we should keep any important hard-copy documents in a case ready to take with us on evacuation.

Thank you, Mr. Arredondo, for giving us interesting and important information about hurricanes and for sharing your own hurricane experience with us.

In our next post, we will share with you our Halloween pumpkin carving!

1 comment:

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