Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated coastal areas of the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, including the city of New Orleans.

It was among the greatest of natural disasters to ever strike the United States.

Katrina, which cut across Florida, had intensified into a Category 5 storm over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 175 mph (282 kph) before weakening as it neared the coast.

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Windspeeds over 140 mph (225 kph) were recorded at landfall in southeastern Louisiana while winds gusted to over 100 mph (160 kph) in New Orleans, just west of the eye. As the hurricane made its second landfall on the Mississippi/Louisiana border, windspeeds were approximately 125 mph (200 kph). Gusts of over 80 mph (129 kph) were recorded in Mobile and 90 mph (145 kph) in Biloxi, MS.

The central pressure at landfall was 920 mb, which ranked 3rd lowest on record for US-landfalling storms behind Camille (909 mb) and the Labor Day hurricane that struck the Florida Keys in 1935 (892 mb). Katrina also reached a minimum central pressure of 902 mb at its peak, ranking 4th lowest on record for all Atlantic basin hurricanes.

The vicious storm killed over 1,800 people, disrupted thousands of lives over tens of thousands of square miles, and damaged or destroyed 275,000 homes. Damage estimates exceeded 100 billion dollars.

The loss of life and property damage was worsened by breaks in the levees that separate New Orleans from surrounding lakes. At least 80% of New Orleans was under flood water on August 31st, largely as a result of levee failures from Lake Pontchartrain.

The combination of strong winds, heavy rainfall and storm surge led to breaks in the earthen levee after the storm passed, leaving some parts of New Orleans under 20 feet (6 meters) of water.

Storm surge from Mobile Bay led to inundation of Mobile, Alabama causing imposition of a dusk-to-dawn curfew for the City. Large portions of Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi were underwater as a result of a 20 to 30+ foot (6 to 9+ meter) storm surge which flooded the cities.

Although Katrina will be recorded as the most destructive storm in terms of economic losses, it did not exceed the human losses in storms such as the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed as many as 6,000-12,000 people, and led to almost complete destruction of coastal Galveston.

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