Katrina approaches New Orleans, US Gulf Coast

Big shout-out to all of our friends and readers in the path of Hurricane Katrina today, including often-BB-cited bloggers Susannah Breslin and Jonno of New Orleans (update: we've since learned that both are safe).

We hope you're all out of harm's way whenever you read this.

Here's a partial list of NOLA-based blogs: Link.

The New Orleans metblog is full of first-hand reports, including this evacuation account from contributor Craig Giesecke:

Not much traffic on the way out, as early as it was, and pretty much smooth sailing all the way to Florida. Part of me felt glad to be leaving, but another part felt like a quitter on my city and yet a third part was missing the action. (...)

We're determined to make this as much a vacation as we can, despite the budget limtations. I used to live in this part of the world, so I know the free stuff and the places to go. But they're also recovering from Dennis back in early July. We have no idea what we'll be going back to and, if predictions hold, my business location will be ruined. But y'know -- it's only stuff.

For now, we've got plenty of rum, some money, a pickup truck, a motel room with a pool, a box of Wheat Thins and a cooler half-full of smoked cheese. Life could be a hell of a lot worse.

Another local blog to check for updates: Jon Donley of NOLA.com has been posting from his "Hurricane Bunker" on the third floor of the Times-Picayune building. Link.

The nola.com webcams, the cincystreet.com cam, and many others provide stills of New Orleans. No telling how long they'll be functional, though. Here's a composite of what three webcams on nola.com capture, as of 11:07pm LA time on Sunday (Link to full size).

Here are a bunch of animated and still radar and satellite images: Link. Here is the National Weather Service bulletin.

Boing Boing reader Mark Kraft says,

There's a very active thread over on MeFi on Katrina, and how big of a danger it is, both to the people of the city and to the U.S. oil infrastructure: Link.

I'll be collecting LiveJournal users' firsthand accounts from the hurricane again, as I did for the tsunami and for several other hurricanes. There are a lot of people who are riding out the storm, sometimes because they have too much they'd have to leave behind, and sometimes because they just have nowhere to go and no way to get there. Latest updates will be here.

And, no surprise here -- the Hurricane Katrina page on Wikipedia is shaping up to be a frequently updated and very helpful resource. Link. Snip:
If it maintains its current central pressure, Katrina will be the most intense named hurricane to impact the United States since the naming of storms began in 1950 (and second overall since the recording of hurricanes began in 1851), being larger in size and slightly stronger than 1969 Hurricane Camille's central pressure of 909 mb.

(Thanks, oboreruhito, asteropm, John Frost, and John Parres)

Reader comment: johnsee says,

This is pretty incredible. Back on the 11th of September 2001 (ignore the other significance of the date for 5 seconds) Popular Mechanics published an article on what could happen if a category 5 hurricane hit New Orleans: Link.
Update: Even Wikipedia knows its own limitations. This notice, in red, now appears at top of the entry for Katrina:
ATTENTION: Residents of areas affected by Hurricane Katrina are advised to seek advice and information from local authorities through television and radio. Information on Wikipedia may not be current or applicable to your area. Do not decide whether to leave your house, shelter, or vehicle based on Wikipedia information.

Eyewitness photos are appearing on flickr, including this snapshot of a Baton Rouge butcher's sign (taken before the storm hit). Link to more.

Reader comment: TAD says,

A buddy of mine is riding the storm on the Mississippi Gulf coast which is expected to take the brunt of the storm. He has been posting overnight and has put up a video taken this morning. He'll continue posting until his power or telephone line goes out. Link
Monday 29 Aug AM: update: NOLA Metblog is full of updates on damage reports. And over on the Times Picayune NOLA.com blog early this morning, as the storm began to hit, Jon Donley wrote:
OK, it's official, Katrina is beginning to knock on our door. We've already been without main power for about two hours . . . no air conditioning (not to harp on that) . . . flashlights to get around the building. Thankfully, no televisions turned to helmet-haired weathercreatures yapping away about worst-case scenarios. Times-Picayune staffers huddled around a radio, or gathered at the second-floor landing, where there's a view of the newspaper's front drive circle.

The scene out the windows is frightening, and it's just beginning. Gusts slamming the big windows, and people reflexively ducking, knowing they've got to break. Trees whipping as if they're about to be uprooted. There is a tooth-grinding whistle from the wind . . . if it keeps up, I'm going to climb up there with my trusty roll of duct tape.

Here in the center of the building - the "hurricane bunker" - there is more power . . . enough generator power to keep our mission-critical computers going. Whether we'll keep connectivity is iffy. A couple of fans moving the air in here.

Scanner traffic now is all about storm emergencies - windows popping and frantic calls for help. People urged to move to interior hallways. Some structural collapses being reported . . . police trying to aid victims . . . didn't hear where this is occurring in New Orleans.

Reader comment: Brian says,
[the American Radio Relay League, or] ARRL has a story about shortwave radio activities related to Katrina. Short wave listening, and amateur radio become extremely useful information sources when commercial means fail. BPL proponents, take note. Link.
Monday 29 Aug PM: update: Several blogs are reporting an exchange between a Fox News Channel reporter and a New Orleans man-on-the-street during Hurricane Katrina coverage this morning:
SHEPARD SMITH: You’re live on FOX News Channel, what are you doing?
MAN: Walking my dogs.
SMITH: Why are you still here? I’m just curious.
MAN: None of your fucking business.
SMITH: Oh that was a good answer, wasn’t it? That was live on international television. Thanks so much for that. You know we apologize.
Link to post with video in Quicktime and WMV (via politicalwire, thanks Catherine)

Image: BBC photo of storm wake (via Warren)