Between Aug. 11 and Aug. 14, more than 20 inches of rain fell in and around East Baton Rouge, one of the hardest-hit parishes. And in some parishes in the region, as much as 2 feet of rain fell in 48 hours.
The National Weather Service says the likelihood that so much rain would fall in so little time was about one-tenth of 1 percent. A flood this bad should only happen once every thousand years.
As The Two-Way has reported, at least 13 people have died in the floods and some 60,000 homes were damaged. The Red Cross says it is likely the worst natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and that the response will cost at least $30 million.
As the water recedes, many local leaders, weather forecasters and Louisiana residents are wondering whether people could have been better warned.
How a storm develops dictates who is responsible for warning people about it.
This storm began as an area of low pressure over the Gulf of Mexico, where hurricanes are born, so from the beginning, the National Hurricane Center in Miami was monitoring it.
“Our job at the National Hurricane Center is to forecast the strength and size of tropical cyclones,” explains James Franklin, the chief of forecast operations at the National Hurricane Center, who has worked on hurricane forecasting since the 1980s. He used to fly into storms as part of the agency’s airborne reconnaissance team. These days, he tries to steer clear of tropical storms and help others do the same.
But this Gulf storm never became a hurricane. The wind speeds were very low. The middle of the system wasn’t warmer than the edges, and air wasn’t circulating around the center of the system the way it would in a cyclone.
So the National Hurricane Center did not issue an …