The day the Hurricane Katrina forecast model surprised everyone

Check out this post with Sandy Rosenthal and her book Words Whispered in Water

With Tropical Depression Eight swirling in the Gulf and getting better organized, I cannot stop thinking about the day the Hurricane Katrina model surprised everyone.

By mid day Friday August 26th, many New Orleanians, including me believed that Hurricane Katrina was heading toward the middle of the Florida Panhandle. Then came the big shock.

Below is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Words Whispered in Water; Why the Levees Broke in Hurricane Katrina. It’s from Chapter 1 “Goodbye New Orleans.’


During the day on Friday August 26th, some of the computer models shifted the storm’s track, now a hurricane, west. Then, late in the afternoon, all models shifted in unison, and New Orleans was moved to the center of the cone of certainty. Governor Blanco declared a state of emergency at 4:00 p.m.

By 7:00 a.m. on Saturday (August 27), the hurricane was over the center of the Gulf of Mexico. At first, the eye started to disintegrate, normally a sign of weakening, but, in this case, it was redistributing. Wind speed picked up around the central vortex, and pressure fell again. Later, the eye contracted, and masses of thunderstorms sprang to life. Within a few hours, the storm doubled in size, eclipsing most of the gulf.

Throughout the day on Saturday, radio and television reports urged residents to evacuate. Officials for Plaquemines and St. Charles Parishes (low-lying coastal areas south of New Orleans) ordered mandatory evacuations. The governor ordered the contraflow and, by 4:00 p.m., the state police had reversed all inbound lanes. By this time, the hurricane watch had been widened to include everything from western Louisiana to the Alabama–Florida border.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a bulletin that warned of a powerful hurricane with unprecedented strength: “Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks. Perhaps longer. At least one half of well constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail. … Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.”

Then, on Saturday night, Max Mayfield, director of the NHC, did something he rarely does. He called all the governors in the cone of certainty to warn them. Upon urging from Governor Blanco, he also called Mayor Nagin, telling him that some levees in the greater New Orleans area could be overtopped.”

Words Whispered in Water | Sandy Rosenthal’s fight against the Army Corps of Engineers on Octavia’s Bookshelves

NEW ORLEANS — The founder of is releasing her first book, examining the massive levee failures that flooded New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.  

Sandy Rosenthal’s Words Whispered in Water chronicles her years-long battle with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that began shortly after the floodwaters that inundated New Orleans receded.  

As Hurricane Katrina roared through New Orleans, early reports indicated the city had been spared what many feared would be widespread death and destruction.  Then word came that levees had failed, and that the New Orleans was filling up with floodwater.

Rosenthal and her organization say the flooding was not a natural disaster, but a man-made one born of the incompetence and neglect of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  

Speaking to WWL-TV anchor Eric Paulsen, Rosenthal said, “Not only is the Army Corps of Engineers fully responsible for the flooding of New Orleans but the Army Corps spent millions trying to hide that from the American people and from Congress, and they harassed anyone who stood up to them.”

Rosenthal’s book follows her crusade to expose design flaws and the Corps’ campaign to absolve itself from any responsibility for the disaster that killed more than a thousand New Orleanians and caused billions of dollars of damage. 

“The survivors of this flood deserve for … the whole country to understand why New Orleans flooded.   The survivors deserve to have their children and their children’s children to have better flood protection.”

Words Whispered in Water will be available for purchase anywhere on August 11, but is available now only at Octavia Books.  On August 11, Rosenthal will sign books from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Octavia Books.

Words Whispered In Water

Why the Levees Broke in Hurricane Katrina

It’s a horror story, a mystery, and David and Goliath story all in one. In 2005, the entire world watched as a major U.S. city was nearly wiped off the map. The levees ruptured and New Orleans drowned. But while newscasters attributed the New Orleans flood to “natural catastrophes” and other types of disasters, citizen investigator Sandy Rosenthal set out to expose the true culprit and compel the media and government to tell the truth. This is her story.

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