KATRINA….Can I join every other person on the planet in recommending that if you live in New Orleans, you should get out now?

The weather service said it expected a “direct strike” by Katrina with “potentially catastrophic and life-threatening” consequences…. Local meteorologists predict that Katrina will make landfall at around 7 a.m. Monday morning and that it will likely run smack into New Orleans.

….It predicted coastal storm surge flooding of 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels and locally as high as 28 feet, with “large and dangerous battering waves” near the center of the landfall and to the east.

How high are those levees again?

UPDATE: Chris Mooney, a native of New Orleans, wrote a prescient article in May about what would happen if “a slow-moving Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane” hit New Orleans. Katrina is a Category 5 hurricane moving at 12 miles per hour. His answer:

A direct hit from a powerful hurricane on New Orleans could furnish perhaps the largest natural catastrophe ever experienced on U.S. soil. Some estimates suggest that well over 25,000 non-evacuees could die. Many more would be stranded, and successful evacuees would have nowhere to return to. Damages could run as high as $100 billion.

Let’s hope things don’t turn out quite that badly.