I got to spend all day today at work, issuing forecasts on this storm to our company, answering questions, etc...
When out team of mets saw that come over the wire, it floored us. NWS just doesn't issue statements like that. A couple of the senior guys, who have worked dozens of hurricane seasons, have never seen anything like that come from NWS.
As we read it, the most frightening thing was that we all looked at each other, and said, "the bad thing is, I don't think they are being over-sensational." If it takes one of the "doomsday" paths, there won't be a hell of a lot left of the city.
This is just no good.
I'm on duty until 1 or 2 AM tomorrow morning (from home now, at least). This storm is unprecidented; nothing like this has made US landfall. The New Orleans "doomsday" scenario (which drops the entire city under 30+ feet of water) is within the 12-hour error radius. The entire Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production is shut down now. Oil is over $70/bbl, gas over $10/Bcf. There will be damaged and even missing platforms. There probably already ARE damaged or missing platforms, we just don't know about them yet.
People are holding Hurricane Parties in the French Quarter. There's a reasonable chance most of these people will be dead in less than 12 hours.
It's too late to hope there won't be serious loss of property and life. It's not too late to hope to keep the doomsday scenario away, true, but the best thing to hope for is, once everything has passed, that we find sanity *somewhere* and recover as best we can. If you live anywhere in the US, this WILL impact you, from everything from people you know to how much you pay for gas and electricity.
And for anyone in New Orleans, I wish you the best of luck, and I hope you've already gotten the hell out.
EDIT: It's 9:00 CDT, and it looks like an eyewall replacement cycle looks like it may be starting. This COULD drop it a category, which may help quite a bit.