Miss. Expert Says Hurricane Cycle Began in 1995, Still Going Strong

January 24, 2006

Hurricane Katrina brought much death and destruction to Mississippi and Louisiana, and upcoming hurricane seasons could be just as dangerous, according to Partick J. Fitzpatrick, a Mississippi State University researcher.

“We think we are 10 years into a 20- to 30-year cycle,” Fitzpatrick told the Tupelo Rotary Club. “It is kinda scary.”

An active hurricane cycle lasting from 1930 to the mid-1960s savaged Florida and the East Coast before it stopped, Fitzpatrick told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. He said one of the exceptions was the Gulf Coast, most notably Hurricane Camille, which battered Mississippi in 1969.

The current 20- to 30-year hurricane cycle began in 1995 and is still going strong. Hurricane Katrina killed 238 in Mississippi and 1,100 in Louisiana and the death toll may climb, he said.

The next hurricane season officially begins June 1, but Fitzpatrick predicts the worst stretch will be from Aug. 20 until Oct. 1.

A native of New Orleans, Fitzpatrick knows Hurricane Katrina’s wrath first-hand. His home in Slidell, La., was reduced to a concrete slab. He is now living in an apartment in Starkville.

Fitzpatrick is an associate research professor in the GeoResources Institute at MSU. He spent years working at MSU operations at the Stennis Space Center on the Gulf Coast before Katrina’s arrival in late August.

The MSU professor, who formerly taught meteorology at Jackson State University, advises people who want to live near the water in Louisiana and Mississippi that they should carefully rebuild.

They should follow hurricane building standards like those in Dade County, Fla., which are the strongest in the nation, he suggested. Such homes can withstand a Category 3 hurricane, but probably not a 5.

“If you have to live there, you should elevate your homes, at least 20 feet high,” Fitzpatrick said.

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