No, Irma Is Not Following The Same Path As Katrina
There are a lot of clickbait stories going around right now, comparing the so-called eerie similarities between the forecast models for Katrina and Irma. I guess the idea is that, since people on the Gulf Coast - especially in Texas and Louisiana - are still reeling from Harvey, and with the memory of Katrina always lingering in the back of everyone’s minds, they’ll click anything that suggests Irma might make a sudden turn and head this way.
That's how they get you. Anything for the clicks, right?
There’s even a popular Katrina forecast from August 24th that’s going around, predicting it would hit Florida and head northeast, posing no real threat to Louisiana. Wait a minute! That's a lot like what they're saying Irma will do, isn't it?! Oooooh, spooky! Right?
Nah, not really. Forecast models have improved over the past 15 years, computers have grown more sophisticated, and while nothing’s ever perfect, meteorologists have a better understanding of how storms will behave now than they did then.
However, even back in 2005, that forecast showing Katrina hitting Florida was quickly updated, as always happens with hurricanes: as more data is collected, the forecast becomes more certain. Here are the spaghetti models from the next day, which was still four days before landfall. Notice how far east some of them have begun to shift.
Remember, that was August 25, 2005. Katrina wouldn’t hit Louisiana until August 29th.
Here’s what Katrina’s forecast models looked like two days before landfall. Notice how they've all begun to generally agree on the path it would take.
The day before:
Is there a chance Irma could move over Florida and head into the Gulf, much like Katrina did? Sure. There’s always a chance - but it’s highly unlikely. Current atmospheric conditions should keep it from moving into the Gulf or that far east, and literally ALL THE SPAGHETTI MODELS AGREE.
Notice how there isn’t a single significant deviation in any of these forecasting models - not even one wildcard showing the storm heading off in a radically different direction. They all agree on the same general northward path, which is something that just doesn't happen until there's enough data to make things pretty certain.
Please don’t help spread fear at a time when people are still recovering from Harvey. IF the storm shifts, and IF the forecast changes, sure - click and share those stories as much and as fast as you can. But right now, there is absolutely no indication that Irma presents any danger to Texas or Louisiana. At all.
We've had enough "fake news" this year, haven't we?