Dr. Barry Keim, an LSU climatologist and Michael Songy of CSRS in Baton Rouge presented findings before the Parish Council on Thursday, February 23.
"We still don't know what to call the thing," Keim said. "Maybe Tropical Wave Boudreaux."
That's basically what the long-standing, broad area of low pressure was, Keim explained. It was a tropical wave. Add wind to a tropical wave and you get tropical depression; more wind, tropical storm; more wind, hurricane.
"A wave has all aspects of a hurricane without wind," Keim said.
The storm began on August 3 in Southeast Florida. But the National Hurricane Center in Miami decided it was not tropical enough to name, and watch, and go through the typical weather-channel storm routines that anyone from the area is all too familiar with.
The unnamed tropical wave moved directly overhead by Friday August 12, and Keim noted it rained every waking moment to Saturday. The Baton Rouge airport held 32 straight hours of rain. There were 39 total hours of rain in the area.
Keim assured the council that the storm in areas like Watson, La., for instance, caused more rainfall than a 1000-year rainfall event.
"It was a 500-year event for the flooding," Keim said.
The August Flood was certainly the biggest 2-day rainstorm ever in the state. He noted that there was fairly heavy rainfall a day or two before the storm, causing the land to already have become saturated.
"Over the past two or so years, we definitely see a run of extraordinary events. It's an unusual pattern right now. No doubt about it," Keim said.
"In 1983 we said we'd never see an event like this again," Councilman John Cagnolatti said. "But here we are in 2016."
Councilman Benny Johnson asked Keim if he could comment on any sort of pattern.
"There's no regular beat to it," Keim said. "The big question is 'Is it climate change?' I just shrug my shoulders, and you know, 'Maybe.'"
Councilman Bill Dawson asked Keim about the predictability of another wave. Keim said that they actually predicted 5-8 inches on the Friday. "And that's progress."
Next, infrastructure, consulting and construction firm CSRS Partner Michael Songy spoke regarding perhaps what can be improved of the land for future flood prevention. Songy offered some suggestions.
"There is some merit to the discussion of stilting homes," Songy said.
There is already an ordinance in place that requires people to build one foot about the 100-year rainfall level.
Councilman Randy Clouatre kind of took the cake nearing the end of Songy's presentation. He expressed the need for legislation and ordinances. The problem is that now wealthier neighborhoods are planning to alter their land to prevent flooding, but are they doing it at the cost of a coinciding neighborhood? These are good questions.
The question of a Storm Water Pollution Plan (SWPP) is also a terrific discussion. Even wealthy neighborhoods are still dealing with sewer problems after the flooding.
"What are y'all doing to your neighbors? We're all trying to stay dry," Clouatre asked. "I'm more an advocate for land rights than rules, but don't affect your neighbor with digging, etc."
The flood workshop was a success perhaps mostly for getting the council's blood flowing after months of rebuilding and uncertainty.