The Perfect Storms: Gustav, Hanna foil Labor Day travel plans


If this were a movie, they’d call it The Perfect Storms.

Travelers haven’t seen a Labor Day like this since 1935, when a record-breaking Category 5 hurricane churned through the Florida Keys, killing 400 people and destroying most of the Overseas Railroad.

Hurricane Gustav is bearing down on New Orleans almost three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. Mayor Ray Nagin has called this hurricane the mother of all storms.

And now Hanna — still a tropical storm, but steadily strengthening — is taking aim at the mainland from the Atlantic. She’s expected to become a hurricane later this week as she approaches Florida.

Several of our contributors are in these storms’ way, so you’ll be getting a lot of first-person coverage during the next few days.

Offering advice isn’t easy. “Don’t travel” isn’t always realistic. Neither is “get out of town.” (Although we’ve tried.)

Perhaps the best tip, for now, is: stay informed. Here’s how I do it.

The National Hurricane Center is the first site you should consult about any storm activity. It’s updated first thing in the morning with new forecasts. Today’s Gustav forecast posted at 4 a.m., for example.

I like to get a second opinion on the weather outlook, so I also turn to AccuWeather. It has some interesting satellite maps of the affected areas.

I also find IntelliCast’s maps and video forecasts to be useful.

Between these three sources, you can get a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Good luck to all of you traveling this Labor Day weekend.