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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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  • Remembering Katrina 10 years later

    Janice Dean | Meteorologist

    People ask me what’s the biggest weather event I’ve forecasted or witnessed as a meteorologist at Fox, and I never hesitate in my response:

    Katrina.

    That was 10 years ago this week, in the most active Atlantic Basin hurricane season in recorded history. There were 15 hurricanes in 2005, seven of which became major hurricanes (category 3 or higher). Katrina, the 11th named storm and the fifth hurricane of the season, killed over 1,800 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

    When I go back to the 24 hours before the storm hit, I remember saying on air, “This is the worst storm to hit the worst possible location.” It became a monster category 5 overnight as it churned in the Gulf of Mexico.

    We all had done our research about New Orleans, which has an average elevation of 6 feet below sea level and is surrounded by water. A system of levees and seawalls was built to keep the city from flooding.

    I saw many articles where officials said they worried that the levees might not hold if a major hurricane crashed onshore. Many of the city’s poorest and most vulnerable residents lived in neighborhoods below sea level.

    We saw the images of people heading to the Superdome, which was called the “refuge of last resort” for those who were unable to get out of the city.

    I remember getting choked up on air thinking about the thousands of people who didn’t leave the area because it was too late or they just couldn’t find the means to get out. I also remember a fellow meteorologist sending me the now famous “doomsday statement” written by National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Ricks:

    HURRICANE KATRINA…A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED STRENGTH…RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969. DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED…POWER OUTAGES LASTING FOR WEEKS… WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.

    Meteorologists had never seen a statement like that, and they haven’t seen one like it since.I read that warning on air in front of that angry, swirling satellite image behind me. There was a sense of dread that day, knowing this storm would be one for the history books and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. Just hope and pray that people were listening and getting to their safe place.

    Many studies have been conducted about why people stay despite a storm like Katrina. Some people can’t evacuate because of transportation issues or because they can’t afford to pay for gas, food or a hotel for a several days, even weeks.

    Some residents will tell the stories of past storms that came and went and didn’t affect them. Or they had evacuated in the past, and the storm shifted course or didn’t do as much damage as expected.

    People can also get “storm fatigue,” meaning they are just tired of weather events disrupting their lives and don’t want to leave their homes over and over.

    There are also people who want to stay home to protect their property from the storm and from looters.

    We are entering peak hurricane season right now. It has been a slow year so far, and the predictions remain that we’re in for a quieter year than usual. My worry is that the millions of new residents along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts who have never experienced a hurricane might not be preparing for one. As a forecaster, the only thing I can do is remind people to be alert, stay focused and know what you’re going to do if there’s a storm on the way.

    As we look back on Katrina, I hope we remember and honor its victims by being prepared. It’s not a question of whether another hurricane will hit us. It’s just a matter of when.

  • High Fire Danger and Tropical Storm Erika needs to be monitored...

    Janice Dean | Meteorologist

    Hi everyone!  A couple of big weather stories we’re following today…

    Low humidity, warm temperatures, and dry lightning will keep fire conditions elevated across the Northern Rockies and Northwest through the end of the week.   Smoke in the region is also causing poor air quality.  The Pacific Northwest will see an increase in humidity and some rainfall this weekend.

    A few isolated strong storms are possible across New England today.  Damaging winds are the primary threat.

    While Danny dissipated yesterday, Tropical Storm Erika has formed about 750 miles east of the Lesser Antilles.  Erika will follow a similar path to Danny, with possibly similar harsh environmental conditions as it approaches the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico Thursday into Friday.  Confidence on track and intensity is low beyond that point, but the Bahamas will need to monitor Erika over the weekend as some models suggest a stronger system in the region by then.  Other models also indicate Erika dissipating similarly to Danny.  Here’s the track, and we’ll be watching it very carefully this weekend:

  • Watching the tropics this weekend

    Janice Dean | Meteorologist

    Good morning everyone!

    I’m in for Rick this weekend, so if you’re up and at em early, come join us!

    A quick weather update:

    Hurricane Danny is going to weaken into a tropical storm tomorrow and weaken further heading into Monday/Tuesday not affecting the US.

    The other storm we’re watching is Tropical Depression Kilo and that system might affect Hawaii next week.

    Meanwhile, strong to severe storms with flash flooding is possible over the central US and Upper Midwest.  Large hail and damaging winds are the primary threat, but there could be a few tornadoes as well.

    Below average temperatures will sink in behind the front.  (10-15 degrees below average)

    Showers and thunderstorms will also be in the forecast across the Southeast and the Southwestern US.  The fire danger remains high across the West with warm temperatures and dry conditions.

    Hope you all are doing great!  Talk to you again soon

    JD

  • Wildfires, TD4 and the #PDC button?

    Janice Dean | Meteorologist

    Hi everyone

    Once again, sorry about the Blog silence last week.  We had some technical issues that couldn’t get resolved right away, but we’re back online.

    In weather news, a front moving through the central U.S. will bring strong to severe storms to the Central Plains and Midwest today.

    Large hail, damaging winds, and a few tornadoes are possible.  Tomorrow the threat shifts to the Ohio River Valley and Great Lakes.

    Fire conditions remain elevated across much of the West today.

    Low humidity, gusty winds, and hot temperatures continue through midweek.  We do have a trough that will push in on Friday which will lower temperatures, but the area remains moisture starved for the foreseeable future.

    And it remains incredibly hot across the Southwest with excessive Heat Warnings remaining in effect.

    Meanwhile, our 4th tropical depression has formed in the Atlantic and will approach the Lesser Antilles in 7 days or so.  Something we’ll have to watch as we are heading into peak hurricane season.

    And incase you missed it yesterday, my friend Gretchen Carlson and I found out there’s a “Profanity Delayed Control Button” in our control room.  Check it out HERE

    JD

  • Wildfire danger, heat and Hilda

    Janice Dean | Meteorologist

    Happy Monday All,

    And just for the record, reading all of your comments, you are all GORGEOUS, certainly beautiful inside and out.   You guys made me laugh.

    Ok let’s get this week off and running.  Unfortunately we have big time heat and wildfire danger once again to start things off…Heat and humidity will again send heat indices across the Southern Plains and southern Mississippi River Valley into the 105 to 115 degree range.

    Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories remain posted.

    Temperatures across the region will return closer to average by midweek.   A system moving through the Ohio Valley and Southeast will bring a few isolated strong storms to the region.  Hail and damaging winds are the primary threats.

    Storms across the central and southern Rockies may bring locally heavy downpours and flash flooding, however the areas that really need rain will remain dry and hot.

    Dozens of wildfires are still burning across the West with red flag warnings and fire weather watches in effect:

    And Hurricane Hilda is still going strong in the Pacific.  The storm will weaken later this week and bring the potential for heavy rain to Hawaii.

    Hope you’re week is going great, and you guys continue to look and feel beautiful!  ;)

    JD

about this blog

  • Janice Dean joined FOX News Channel in January 2004 and currently serves as Senior meteorologist. She is a member of the American Meteorological Society and was awarded the AMS Seal of Approval in 2009. Dean is the author of the forthcoming children's book, "Freddy the Frogcaster" (Regnery Kids) which will be published in August. You can also follow Janice on Twitter.