NEW ORLEANS – It's one of the most famous weather forecasts of the modern era, and it came out exactly 13 years ago to the day. That would be Aug. 28, 2005, one day before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Ricks issued a forecast so dire that some news agencies thought it was a hoax, writes meteorologist James Spann in a tweet commemorating the Ricks forecast.
As it turns out, Ricks was spot on. "Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks…perhaps longer," he wrote. "At least one-half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail…leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed." And this: "Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards." (Spann's tweet includes the full text.) The forecast has been credited with saving lives, and it is now in the Smithsonian Museum of American History, as noted by Slate on the 10-year anniversary.
Ricks told Brian Williams of NBC News on Sept. 15, 2005, that he went through the warning line by line to verify each doomsday-sounding statement before making it public.
He ended up removing nothing. "I would much rather have been wrong in this one," he told Williams. "I would much rather be talking to you and taking the heat and crying wolf. But our local expertise said otherwise. You know, 'Hey, let's gear up for the big one, this is going to be the big one.'" (Read about what JJ Watt's crowdsourced fundraiser accomplished in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.)
This article originally appeared on Newser: 13 Years Ago, a Dire Forecast Proved to Be All Too Accurate.