Government forecasters say it might not take more than a strong Category 2 hurricane to breach the levees and flood New Orleans.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it's not surprised by that either.
The new report uses what is said to be the most accurate and complete picture yet of the region's levee heights. It concludes that the area surrounding New Orleans is, in fact, among the nation's most hurricane-vulnerable.
The NOAA storm surge estimates don't take into consideration possible engineering failures, like the levee breaches that caused much of the misery in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina.
The projections on storm surge are used by emergency planners, builders, residents and the Army Corps of Engineers.