Hurricane Katrina Slams the Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Katrina Slams the Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Katrina makes landfall near New Orleans, Louisiana, as a Category 4 hurricane on August 29, 2005. Despite being only the third most powerful storm of the 2005 hurricane season, Katrina was among the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States. In the wake of the storm, there were over 50 failures of the levees and flood walls surrounding New Orleans and its suburbs. The levee and flood wall failures caused widespread flooding.

After briefly coming ashore in southern Florida on August 25 as a Category 1 hurricane, Katrina gained strength before slamming into the Gulf Coast on August 29. In addition to bringing devastation to the New Orleans area, the hurricane caused damage along the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, as well as other parts of Louisiana.

WATCH: Cities of the Underworld: Hurricane Katrina on HISTORY Vault

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city on August 28, when Katrina briefly achieved Category 5 status and the National Weather Service predicted “devastating” damage to the area. But an estimated 150,000 people, who either did not want to or did not have the resources to leave, ignored the order and stayed behind. The storm brought sustained winds of 145 miles per hour, which cut power lines and destroyed homes, even turning cars into projectile missiles. Katrina caused record storm surges all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The surges overwhelmed the levees that protected New Orleans, located at six feet below sea level, from Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. Soon, 80 percent of the city was flooded up to the rooftops of many homes and small buildings.















Tens of thousands of people sought shelter in the New Orleans Convention Center and the Louisiana Superdome. The situation in both places quickly deteriorated, as food and water ran low and conditions became unsanitary. Frustration mounted as it took up to two days for a full-scale relief effort to begin. In the meantime, the stranded residents suffered from heat, hunger, and a lack of medical care.

Reports of looting, rape, and even murder began to surface. As news networks broadcast scenes from the devastated city to the world, it became obvious that a vast majority of the victims were African-American and poor, leading to difficult questions among the public about the state of racial equality in the United States. The federal government and President George W. Bush were roundly criticized for what was perceived as their slow response to the disaster. The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael Brown, resigned amid the ensuing controversy.

READ MORE: Hurricane Katrina: 10 Facts About the Deadly Storm and Its Legacy

Finally, on September 1, the tens of thousands of people staying in the damaged Superdome and Convention Center begin to be moved to the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, and another mandatory evacuation order was issued for the city. The next day, military convoys arrived with supplies and the National Guard was brought in to bring a halt to lawlessness. Efforts began to collect and identify corpses. On September 6, eight days after the hurricane, the Army Corps of Engineers finally completed temporary repairs to the three major holes in New Orleans’ levee system and were able to begin pumping water out of the city.

In all, it is believed that the hurricane caused more than 1,300 deaths and up to $150 billion in damages to both private property and public infrastructure. It is estimated that only about $40 billion of that number will be covered by insurance. One million people were displaced by the disaster, a phenomenon unseen in the United States since the Great Depression. Four hundred thousand people lost their jobs as a result of the disaster. Offers of international aid poured in from around the world, even from poor countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Private donations from U.S. citizens alone approached $600 million.

The storm also set off 36 tornadoes in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, resulting in one death.

President Bush declared September 16 a national day of remembrance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

In a 2006 federal report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers admitted that the flood-control complex surrounding New Orleans had been incomplete, insufficient and improperly maintained. "The hurricane protection system in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana was a system in name only," said the report.

READ MORE: How Levee Failures Made Hurricane Katrina a Bigger Disaster


Hurricane Katrina

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Hurricane Katrina, tropical cyclone that struck the southeastern United States in late August 2005. The hurricane and its aftermath claimed more than 1,800 lives, and it ranked as the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

What was Hurricane Katrina?

Hurricane Katrina was a tropical cyclone that struck the southeastern United States in late August 2005. The hurricane and its aftermath claimed more than 1,800 lives, and it ranked as the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

Who was Hurricane Katrina named after?

There is no particular person for whom Hurricane Katrina was named. Rather, the hurricane was named in accordance with the World Meteorological Organization’s lists of hurricane names, which rotate every six years. Following the historical damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina, the name “Katrina” was retired from the lists of names.

What were Hurricane Katrina’s wind speeds?

When Hurricane Katrina first made landfall in Florida between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, it was a category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. By the time the storm strengthened to a category 3 hurricane, winds exceeded 115 miles per hour. At its height as a category 5 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico, Katrina’s wind speeds exceeded 170 miles per hour.

Why did Hurricane Katrina lead to widespread flooding?

Hurricane Katrina led to widespread flooding in southeastern Louisiana when the levee system that held back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne was completely overwhelmed by 10 inches of rain and Katrina’s storm surge. Areas east of the Industrial Canal were the first to flood by August 30, 80 percent of New Orleans was underwater.

What was the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the New Orleans public education system?

Prior to Hurricane Katrina the public school system of New Orleans was one of the lowest-performing districts in the state of Louisiana. After Hurricane Katrina, which damaged more than 100 school buildings, the state seized control of almost all urban schools and turned them over to independent charter groups. New Orleans went from having a public school system to having a school system composed almost entirely of charter schools, most of them run by charter management organizations.

The storm that would later become Hurricane Katrina surfaced on August 23, 2005, as a tropical depression over the Bahamas, approximately 350 miles (560 km) east of Miami. Over the next two days the weather system gathered strength, earning the designation Tropical Storm Katrina, and it made landfall between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as a category 1 hurricane (a storm that, on the Saffir-Simpson scale, exhibits winds in the range of 74–95 miles per hour [119–154 km per hour]). Sustained winds of 70 miles per hour (115 km per hour) lashed the Florida peninsula, and rainfall totals of 5 inches (13 cm) were reported in some areas. The storm spent less than eight hours over land. It quickly intensified when it reached the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

On August 27 Katrina strengthened to a category 3 hurricane, with top winds exceeding 115 miles per hour (185 km per hour) and a circulation that covered virtually the entire Gulf of Mexico. By the following afternoon Katrina had become one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, with winds in excess of 170 miles per hour (275 km per hour). On the morning of August 29, the storm made landfall as a category 4 hurricane at Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, approximately 45 miles (70 km) southeast of New Orleans. It continued on a course to the northeast, crossing the Mississippi Sound and making a second landfall later that morning near the mouth of the Pearl River. A storm surge more than 26 feet (8 metres) high slammed into the coastal cities of Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi, devastating homes and resorts along the beachfront.

In New Orleans, where much of the greater metropolitan area is below sea level, federal officials initially believed that the city had “dodged the bullet.” While New Orleans had been spared a direct hit by the intense winds of the storm, the true threat was soon apparent. The levee system that held back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne had been completely overwhelmed by 10 inches (25 cm) of rain and Katrina’s storm surge. Areas east of the Industrial Canal were the first to flood by the afternoon of August 29, some 20 percent of the city was underwater.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city the previous day, and an estimated 1.2 million people left ahead of the storm. However, tens of thousands of residents could not or would not leave. They either remained in their homes or sought shelter at locations such as the New Orleans Convention Center or the Louisiana Superdome. As the already strained levee system continued to give way, the remaining residents of New Orleans were faced with a city that by August 30 was 80 percent underwater. Many local agencies found themselves unable to respond to the increasingly desperate situation, as their own headquarters and control centres were under 20 feet (6 metres) of water. With no relief in sight and in the absence of any organized effort to restore order, some neighbourhoods experienced substantial amounts of looting, and helicopters were used to rescue many people from rooftops in the flooded Ninth Ward.

On August 31 the first wave of evacuees arrived at the Red Cross shelter at the Houston Astrodome, some 350 miles (560 km) away from New Orleans, but tens of thousands remained in the city. By September 1 an estimated 30,000 people were seeking shelter under the damaged roof of the Superdome, and an additional 25,000 had gathered at the Convention Center. Shortages of food and potable water quickly became an issue, and daily temperatures reached 90 °F (32 °C). An absence of basic sanitation combined with the omnipresent bacteria-rich floodwaters to create a public health emergency.


Katrina slams into Gulf Coast, leaving extensive flooding

'It's complete devastation,' Gulfport fire chief says

NEW ORLEANS &mdash Announcing itself with shrieking, 145-mph winds, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast just outside New Orleans today, submerging entire neighborhoods up to their roofs, swamping Mississippi's beachfront casinos and blowing out windows in hospitals, hotels and high-rises.

For New Orleans &mdash a dangerously vulnerable city because it sits mostly below sea level in a bowl-shaped depression &mdash it was not the apocalyptic storm forecasters had feared.

But it was plenty bad, in New Orleans and elsewhere along the coast, where numerous people had to be rescued from rooftops and attics as the floodwaters rose around them.

Jim Pollard, spokesman for the Harrison County emergency operations center, said 50 people were killed by Katrina in his county, with the bulk of the deaths at an apartment complex in Biloxi. Three other people were killed by falling trees in Mississippi and two died in a traffic accident in Alabama, authorities said. An untold number of other people were feared dead in flooded neighborhoods, many of which could not be reached by rescuers because of high water.

"Some of them, it was their last night on Earth," Terry Ebbert, chief of homeland security for New Orleans, said of people who ignored orders to evacuate the city of 480,000 over the weekend. "That's a hard way to learn a lesson."

"We pray that the loss of life is very limited, but we fear that is not the case," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said.

A number of overpasses on Interstate 10 between New Orleans and Slidell have collapsed, said Gov. Blanco, and some spans on I-10 in Mississippi also are down.

Katrina knocked out power to more than three-quarters of a million people from Louisiana to the Florida's Panhandle, and authorities said it could be two months before electricity is restored to everyone. Ten major hospitals in New Orleans were running on emergency backup power.

The federal government began rushing baby formula, communications equipment, generators, water and ice into hard-hit areas, along with doctors, nurses and first-aid supplies. The Pentagon sent experts to help with search-and-rescue operations.

Katrina was later downgraded to a tropical storm as it passed through eastern Mississippi, moving north at 21 mph. Winds were still a dangerous 65 mph.
Forecasters said that as the storm moves north through the nation's midsection over the next few days, it may spawn tornadoes over the Southeast and swamp the Gulf Coast and the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys with a potentially ruinous 8 inches or more of rain.

Oil refiners said damage to their equipment in the Gulf region appeared to be minimal, and oil prices dropped back from the day's highs above $70 a barrel. But the refiners were still assessing the damage, and the Bush administration said it would consider releasing oil from the nation's emergency stockpile if necessary.

Katrina had menaced the Gulf Coast over the weekend as a 175-mph, Category 5 monster, the most powerful ranking on the scale. But it weakened to a Category 4 and made a slight right-hand turn just become it came ashore around daybreak near the Louisiana bayou town of Buras, passing just east of New Orleans on a path that spared the Big Easy &mdash and its fabled French Quarter &mdash from its full fury.

In nearby coastal St. Bernard Parish, Katrina's storm surge swamped an estimated 40,000 homes. In a particularly low-lying neighborhood on the south shore of Lake Ponchartain, a levee along a canal gave way and forced dozens of residents to flee or scramble to the roofs when water rose to their gutters.

"I've never encountered anything like it in my life. It just kept rising and rising and rising," said Bryan Vernon, who spent three hours on his roof, screaming over howling winds for someone to save him and his fiancee.

In the past four hours, more than 200 people have been rescued in New Orleans and parishes southeast of the city, Blanco said.

``There are thousands of people out there who are stranded,'' said Dwight Landreneau, secretary of the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Across a street that had turned into a river bobbing with garbage cans, trash and old tires, a woman leaned from the second-story window of a brick home and pleaded to be rescued.

"There are three kids in here," the woman said. "Can you help us?"

Blanco said people are being plucked from rooftops and cut out of their attics. Rescues are being performed from north of Lake Pontchartrain southward through New Orleans and to the coast, she said.

Those rescued were being taken to higher ground, where local emergency workers were taking them to shelters.

In some areas, the water was 12 feet deep where people were being rescued. Blanco said people were so desperate for rescue that many were jumping into the water and swimming to the boats.

``We're finding a mighty lot of people,'' she said.

She again asked that people not try to return home until the all-clear signal is given.

Landreneau said rescue crews would continue seeking stranded people until it was no longer safe to do so. They will start again as early as possible, he said.

Elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, Mississippi was subjected to both Katrina's harshest winds and highest recorded storm surges &mdash 22 feet. The storm pushed water up to the second floor of homes, flooded floating casinos, uprooted hundreds of trees and flung sailboats across a highway.

"Let me tell you something, folks: I've been out there. It's complete devastation," said Gulfport, Miss., Fire Chief Pat Sullivan.

In Alabama, Katrina's arrival was marked by the flash and crackle of exploding transformers. The hurricane toppled huge oak branches on Mobile's waterfront and broke apart an oil-drilling platform, sending a piece slamming into a major bridge.

Muddy six-foot waves crashed into the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, flooding stately, antebellum mansions and littering them with oak branches.

"There are lots of homes through here worth a million dollars. At least they were yesterday," said a shirtless Fred Wright. "I've been here 25 years, and this is the worst I've ever seen the water."

It was Katrina's second blow: The hurricane hit the southern tip of Florida as a much weaker storm Thursday and was blamed for 11 deaths. It was the sixth hurricane to hit Florida in just over a year.

Calling it a once-in-a-lifetime storm, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had issued a mandatory evacuation order as Katrina drew near. But the doomsday vision of hurricane waters spilling over levees and swamping the city in a toxic soup of refinery chemicals, sewage and human bodies never materialized.

Forecasters said New Orleans &mdash which has not been hit directly by a major storm since Category 3 Hurricane Betsy struck in 1965 &mdash got lucky again.

"The real important issue here is that when it got to the metropolitan area, it was weaker," said National Hurricane Center deputy director Ed Rappaport, who estimated the highest winds in New Orleans were 100 mph. "They were fortunate in that they were on the west side and the winds may not have been quite strong enough to top the levees."

A 50-foot water main broke in New Orleans, making it unsafe to drink the city's water without first boiling it. And police made several arrests for looting.

At New Orleans' Superdome, home to 9,000 storm refugees, the wind ripped pieces of metal from the roof, leaving two holes that let water drip in. A power outage also knocked out the air conditioning, and the storm refugees sweltered in the heat.

Katrina also shattered scores of windows in high-rise office buildings and on five floors of the Charity Hospital, forcing patients to be moved to lower levels. White curtains that had been sucked out of the shattered windows of a hotel became tangled in treetops.

In the French Quarter, made up of Napoleonic-era buildings with wrought-iron balconies, the damage was relatively light.

On Jackson Square, two massive oak trees outside the 278-year-old St. Louis Cathedral came out by the roots, ripping out a 30-foot section of ornamental iron fence and straddling a marble statue of Jesus Christ, snapping off the thumb and forefinger of his outstretched hand.

At the hotel Le Richelieu, the winds blew open sets of balcony French doors shortly after dawn. Seventy-three-year-old Josephine Elow pressed her weight against the broken doors as a hotel employee tried to secure them.

"It's not life-threatening," she said as rainwater dripped from her face. "God's got our back."


Contents

Hurricane Katrina formed as Tropical Depression Twelve over the southeastern Bahamas on August 23, 2005, as the result of the merger of a tropical wave and the remnants of Tropical Depression Ten four days earlier. The storm strengthened into Tropical Storm Katrina on the morning of August 24. The tropical storm moved towards Florida and became a hurricane only two hours before making landfall between Hallandale Beach and Aventura on the morning of August 25. The storm weakened over land, but it regained hurricane status about one hour after entering the Gulf of Mexico, and it continued strengthening over open waters. On August 27, the storm reached Category 3 intensity on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, becoming the third major hurricane of the season. An eyewall replacement cycle disrupted the intensification but caused the storm to nearly double in size. [10] Thereafter, Katrina rapidly intensified over the "unusually warm" waters of the Loop Current from a Category 3 hurricane to a Category 5 hurricane in just nine hours. [11]

After attaining Category 5 hurricane status on the morning of August 28, Katrina reached its peak strength at 1800 UTC, with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph (280 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 902 mbar (26.6 inHg). The pressure measurement made Katrina the fifth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record at the time, only to be surpassed by Hurricanes Rita and Wilma later in the season it was also the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico at the time, before Rita broke the record. [10] The hurricane subsequently weakened due to another eyewall replacement cycle, and Katrina made its second landfall at 1110 UTC on August 29, as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h), near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana. At landfall, hurricane-force winds extended outward 120 miles (190 km) from the center and the storm's central pressure was 920 mbar (27 inHg). After moving over southeastern Louisiana and Breton Sound, it made its third and final landfall near the Louisiana–Mississippi border with 120 mph (190 km/h) sustained winds, still at Category 3 hurricane intensity. [12] Katrina maintained strength well into Mississippi, finally losing hurricane strength more than 150 miles (240 km) inland near Meridian, Mississippi. It was downgraded to a tropical depression near Clarksville, Tennessee its remnants were absorbed by a cold front in the eastern Great Lakes region on August 31. The resulting extratropical storm moved rapidly to the northeast and affected eastern Canada. [10]

Federal government

The United States Coast Guard began pre-positioning resources in a ring around the expected impact zone and activated more than 400 reservists. On August 27, it moved its personnel out of the New Orleans region prior to the mandatory evacuation. [13] Aircrews from the Aviation Training Center, in Mobile, staged rescue aircraft from Texas to Florida. [14] All aircraft were returning towards the Gulf of Mexico by the afternoon of August 29. Aircrews, many of whom lost their homes during the hurricane, began a round-the-clock rescue effort in New Orleans, and along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines. [15]

President of the United States George W. Bush declared a state of emergency in selected regions of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi on August 27. [16] "On Sunday, August 28, President Bush spoke with Governor Blanco to encourage her to order a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans." [17] However, during the testimony by former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) chief Michael Brown before a U.S. House subcommittee on September 26, Representative Stephen Buyer (R-IN) inquired as to why President Bush's declaration of state of emergency of August 27 had not included the coastal parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, and Plaquemines. [18] The declaration actually did not include any of Louisiana's coastal parishes, whereas the coastal counties were included in the declarations for Mississippi and Alabama. [19] [20] Brown testified that this was because Louisiana Governor Blanco had not included those parishes in her initial request for aid, a decision that he found "shocking." After the hearing, Blanco released a copy of her letter, which showed she had requested assistance for "all the southeastern parishes including the City of New Orleans" as well specifically naming 14 parishes, including Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines. [21]

Voluntary and mandatory evacuations were issued for large areas of southeast Louisiana as well as coastal Mississippi and Alabama. About 1.2 million residents of the Gulf Coast were covered under a voluntary or mandatory evacuation order. [10]

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

On the afternoon of August 26, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) realized that Katrina had yet to make the turn toward the Florida Panhandle and ended up revising the predicted track of the storm from the panhandle to the Mississippi coast. [22] The National Weather Service's New Orleans/Baton Rouge office issued a vividly worded bulletin on August 28 predicting that the area would be "uninhabitable for weeks" after "devastating damage" caused by Katrina, which at that time rivaled the intensity of Hurricane Camille. [23] During video conferences involving the president later that day and on August 29, NHC director Max Mayfield expressed concern that Katrina might push its storm surge over the city's levees and flood walls. In one conference, he stated, "I do not think anyone can tell you with confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that's obviously a very, very great concern." [24] Additionally, the National Hurricane Center issued many tropical cyclone warnings and watches throughout the duration of Katrina:

Summary of tropical cyclone warnings and watches associated with Hurricane Katrina
Date Time Warning type Areas
August 23 23:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning Central and northwest Bahamas
August 24 03:00 UTC Tropical Storm Watch Seven Mile Bridge to Vero Beach, Florida
15:00 UTC Seven Mile Bridge to Florida City, Florida
Tropical Storm Warning and Hurricane Watch Florida City to Vero Beach, Florida
21:00 UTC Tropical Storm Watch Vero Beach to Titusville, Florida
Tropical Storm Warning and Hurricane Watch Lake Okeechobee
August 25 03:00 UTC Hurricane Warning Florida City to Vero Beach, Florida, and Lake Okeechobee
09:00 UTC Tropical Storm Watch Florida City to Englewood, Florida, including Florida Bay
15:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning Grand Bahama, Bimini, and the Berry Islands, Bahamas
21:00 UTC Hurricane Warning Florida City to Jupiter Inlet, Florida
Tropical Storm Warning Jupiter Inlet to Florida Keys and Florida City to Longboat Key, Florida
Tropical Storm Watch Longboat Key to Anclote Key, Florida
23:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning discontinued Grand Bahama, Bimini, and the Berry Islands, Bahamas
August 26 03:00 UTC Tropical Storm Watch discontinued Vero Beach to Titusville, Florida
Tropical Storm Warning discontinued Jupiter Inlet to Vero Beach, Florida
05:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning Deerfield Beach to Florida City, Florida
Hurricane Warning discontinued Deerfield Beach to Jupiter, Florida, and Lake Okeechobee
Tropical Storm Warning Florida Keys including Florida Bay and Florida City to Longboat Key, Florida
15:00 UTC Florida City to Longboat Key and all the Florida Keys and Florida Bay
21:00 UTC Tropical Storm Watch discontinued All
Tropical Storm Warning discontinued Florida City to Longboat Key, Florida
August 27 09:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning Dry Tortugas to Longboat Key, Florida
15:00 UTC Dry Tortugas to Key West, Florida
Hurricane Watch Morgan City to Pearl River, Louisiana
21:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warnings discontinued All
Hurricane Watch Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to Florida-Alabama border
August 28 03:00 UTC Hurricane Warning Morgan City, Louisiana, to Florida-Alabama border, including Lake Pontchartrain
Tropical Storm Warning Florida-Alabama border to Destin, Florida
Intracoastal City to Morgan City, Louisiana
Hurricane Watch Florida-Alabama border to Destin, Florida
09:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning Destin to Indian Pass, Florida, and Intracoastal City to Cameron, Louisiana
August 29 15:00 UTC Hurricane Watches discontinued All
21:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning Pearl River, Louisiana, to Florida-Alabama border
Tropical Storm and Hurricane Warning discontinued Cameron to Pearl River, Louisiana, and Florida-Alabama border to Destin, Florida
August 30 03:00 UTC Tropical Storm Warning discontinued All

Florida and Gulf Coast

In Florida, Governor Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency on August 24 in advance of Hurricane Katrina's landfall. [25] By the following day, Florida's Emergency Operations Center was activated in Tallahassee to monitor the progress of the hurricane. [26] Before Katrina moved ashore, schools and businesses were closed in the Miami area. Cruise ships altered their paths due to seaports in southeastern Florida closing. [27] Officials in Miami-Dade County advised residents in mobile homes or with special needs to evacuate. To the north in Broward County, residents east of the Intracoastal Waterway or in mobile homes were advised to leave their homes. Evacuation orders were issued for offshore islands in Palm Beach County, and for residents in mobile homes south of Lantana Road. Additionally, a mandatory evacuation was ordered for vulnerable housing in Martin County. [25] Shelters were opened across the region. [28] Officials closed the Miami International Airport, [29] Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, Key West International Airport, and Florida Keys Marathon Airport due to the storm. In Monroe and Collier counties, schools were closed, and a shelter was opened in Immokalee. [30]

On August 28, Alabama Governor Bob Riley declared a state of emergency for the approaching Hurricane Katrina. On the same day, he requested President Bush to declare "expedited major disaster declaration" for six counties of South Alabama, which was quickly approved. Three hundred fifty national guardsmen were called on duty by August 30. [31] The state of Mississippi activated its National Guard on August 26 in preparation for the storm's landfall. Additionally, the state government activated its Emergency Operations Center the next day, and local governments began issuing evacuation orders. By 6:00 pm CDT on August 28, 11 counties and cities issued evacuation orders, a number which increased to 41 counties and 61 cities by the following morning. Moreover, 57 emergency shelters were established on coastal communities, with 31 additional shelters available to open if needed. [8]

By Sunday, August 28, most infrastructure along the Gulf Coast had been shut down, including all freight and Amtrak rail traffic into the evacuation areas as well as the Waterford Nuclear Generating Station. Since Hurricane Katrina, Amtrak's Sunset Limited service has never been restored past New Orleans. [32] [33]

Louisiana

In Louisiana, the state's hurricane evacuation plan calls for local governments in areas along and near the coast to evacuate in three phases, starting with the immediate coast 50 hours before the start of tropical-storm-force winds. Persons in areas designated Phase II begin evacuating 40 hours before the onset of tropical storm winds and those in Phase III areas (including New Orleans) evacuate 30 hours before the start of such winds. [34] Many private caregiving facilities that relied on bus companies and ambulance services for evacuation were unable to evacuate their charges because they waited too long. [35] Louisiana's Emergency Operations Plan Supplement 1C (Part II, Section II, Paragraph D) calls for use of school and other public buses in evacuations. [36] Although buses that later flooded were available to transport those dependent upon public transportation, not enough bus drivers were available to drive them as Governor Blanco did not sign an emergency waiver to allow any licensed driver to transport evacuees on school buses. [37]

By August 26, the possibility of an unprecedented cataclysm was already being considered. Many of the computer models had shifted the potential path of Katrina 150 miles (240 km) westward from the Florida Panhandle, putting the city of New Orleans directly in the center of their track probabilities the chances of a direct hit were forecast at 17%, with strike probability rising to 29% by August 28. [38] This scenario was considered a potential catastrophe because some parts of New Orleans and the metro area are below sea level. Since the storm surge produced by the hurricane's right-front quadrant (containing the strongest winds) was forecast to be 28 feet (8.5 m), while the levees offered protection to 23 feet (7.0 m), emergency management officials in New Orleans feared that the storm surge could go over the tops of levees protecting the city, causing major flooding. [39]

At a news conference at 10 a.m. EDT on August 28, shortly after Katrina was upgraded to a Category 5 storm, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin ordered the first-ever mandatory evacuation of the city, calling Katrina "a storm that most of us have long feared." [40] The city government also established several "refuges of last resort" for citizens who could not leave the city, including the massive Louisiana Superdome, which sheltered approximately 26,000 people and provided them with food and water for several days as the storm came ashore. [41] [42] Some estimates claimed that 80% of the 1.3 million residents of the greater New Orleans metropolitan area evacuated, leaving behind substantially fewer people than remained in the city during the Hurricane Ivan evacuation. [43]

Deaths by state
Alabama 2
Florida 14
Georgia 2
Kentucky 1
Louisiana 986–1,577*
Mississippi 238
Ohio 2
Total 1,245–1,836 [44] [45]
Missing 135 [46]
*Includes out-of-state evacuees
counted by Louisiana

On August 29, 2005, Katrina's storm surge caused 53 breaches to various flood protection structures in and around the greater New Orleans area, submerging 80% of the city. A June 2007 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers indicated that two-thirds of the flooding was caused by the multiple failures of the city's floodwalls. [47] The storm surge also devastated the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, making Katrina one of the most destructive hurricanes, the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, tied with Hurricane Harvey in 2017, [1] and the deadliest hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. The total damage from Katrina is estimated at $125 billion (2005 U.S. dollars). [10] [48]

The death toll from Katrina is uncertain, with reports differing by hundreds. According to the National Hurricane Center, 1,836 fatalities can be attributed to the storm: 1 in Kentucky, 2 each in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio, 14 in Florida, 238 in Mississippi, and 1,577 in Louisiana. [44] [46] However, 135 people remain categorized as missing in Louisiana, [46] and many of the deaths are indirect, but it is almost impossible to determine the exact cause of some of the fatalities. [10] A 2008 report by the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal indicates that 966 deaths can be directly attributed to the storm in Louisiana, including out of state evacuees, and another 20 indirectly (such as firearm-related deaths and gas poisoning). Due to uncertain causes of death with 454 evacuees, an upper-bound of 1,440 is noted in the paper. [45] A follow-up study by the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals determined that the storm was directly responsible for 1,170 fatalities in Louisiana. [49]

Federal disaster declarations covered 90,000 square miles (230,000 km 2 ) of the United States, an area almost as large as the United Kingdom. The hurricane left an estimated three million people without electricity. On September 3, 2005, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff described the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as "probably the worst catastrophe or set of catastrophes," in the country's history, referring to the hurricane itself plus the flooding of New Orleans. [50]

Even in 2010, debris remained in some coastal communities. [51]

Florida, Bahamas, and Cuba

Hurricane Katrina first made landfall between Hallandale Beach and Aventura, Florida on August 25. The storm dropped heavy rainfall in portions of the Miami metropolitan area, with a peak total of 16.43 in (417 mm) in Perrine. As a result, local flooding occurred in Miami-Dade County, damaging approximately 100 homes. Farther south in the Florida Keys, a tornado was spawned in Marathon on August 26. The tornado damaged a hangar at the airport there and caused an estimated $5 million in damage. [52] The rains caused flooding, and the combination of rains and winds downed trees and power lines, leaving 1.45 million people without power. Damage in South Florida was estimated at $523 million, mostly as a result of crop damage. Twelve deaths occurred in South Florida, of which three were caused by downed trees in Broward County, three from drowning in Miami-Dade County, three were from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by generators, one was due to a vehicle accident, one occurred during debris cleanup, and one was associated with a lack of electricity.

Significant impacts were also reported in the Florida Panhandle. Although Katrina moved ashore in Louisiana and Mississippi, its outer periphery produced a 5.37 ft (1.64 m) storm surge in Pensacola. High waves caused beach erosion and closed nearby roadways. There were five tornadoes in the northwestern portion of the state, though none of them caused significant damage. Throughout the Florida Panhandle, the storm resulted in an estimated $100 million in damage. There were two indirect fatalities from Katrina in Walton County as a result of a traffic accident. [10] In the Florida Panhandle, 77,000 customers lost power. [53] Overall, the hurricane killed 14 people and caused at least $623 million in damage.

Before striking South Florida, Katrina traversed the Bahamas as a tropical storm. However, minimal impact was reported, with only "fresh breezes" on various islands. [54]

Although Hurricane Katrina stayed well to the north of Cuba, on August 28 it brought tropical-storm-force winds and rainfall of over 8 in (200 mm) to western regions of the island. Telephone and power lines were damaged and around 8,000 people were evacuated in the Pinar del Río Province. According to Cuban television reports the coastal town of Surgidero de Batabanó was 90% underwater. [55]

Louisiana

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana, with 125 mph (200 km/h) winds, as a strong Category 3 hurricane. Although the storm surge to the east of the path of the eye in Mississippi was higher, a significant surge affected the Louisiana coast. The height of the surge is uncertain because of a lack of data, although a tide gauge in Plaquemines Parish indicated a storm tide in excess of 14 feet (4.3 m), and a 12-foot (3.7 m) storm surge was recorded in Grand Isle. The hurricane made its final landfall near the mouth of the Pearl River, with the eye straddling St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, and Hancock County, Mississippi, on the morning of August 29 at about 9:45M CST. [10]

Hurricane Katrina also brought heavy rain to Louisiana, with 8–10 inches (200–250 mm) falling on a wide swath of the eastern part of the state. In the area around Slidell, the rainfall was even higher, and the highest rainfall recorded in the state was approximately 15 inches (380 mm). As a result of the rainfall and storm surge the level of Lake Pontchartrain rose and caused significant flooding along its northeastern shore, affecting communities from Slidell to Mandeville. Several bridges were destroyed, including the I-10 Twin Span Bridge connecting Slidell to New Orleans. [10] Almost 900,000 people in Louisiana lost power as a result of Hurricane Katrina. [56]

Katrina's storm surge inundated all parishes surrounding Lake Pontchartrain, including St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, St. John the Baptist, and St. Charles Parishes. St. Tammany Parish received a two-part storm surge. The first surge came as Lake Pontchartrain rose and the storm blew water from the Gulf of Mexico into the lake. The second came as the eye of Katrina passed, westerly winds pushed water into a bottleneck at the Rigolets Pass, forcing it farther inland. The range of surge levels in eastern St. Tammany Parish is estimated at 13–16 feet (4.0–4.9 m), not including wave action. [57]

Hard-hit St. Bernard Parish was flooded because of breaching of the levees that contained a navigation channel called the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MR-GO) and the breach of the 40 Arpent canal levee that was designed and built by the Orleans Levee Board. The search for the missing was undertaken by the St. Bernard Fire Department because of the assets of the United States Coast Guard being diverted to New Orleans. In the months after the storm, many of the missing were tracked down by searching flooded homes, tracking credit card records, and visiting homes of family and relatives. [58]

According to the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, in St. Bernard Parish, 81% (20,229) of the housing units were damaged. In St. Tammany Parish, 70% (48,792) were damaged and in Plaquemines Parish 80% (7,212) were damaged. [59]

In addition, the combined effect of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was the destruction of an estimated 562 square kilometres (217 sq mi) of coastal wetlands in Louisiana. [60]

New Orleans

As the eye of Hurricane Katrina swept to the northeast, it subjected the city to hurricane conditions for hours. Although power failures prevented accurate measurement of wind speeds in New Orleans, there were a few measurements of hurricane-force winds based on this information, the NHC concluded that much of the city likely experienced sustained winds of Category 1 or 2 hurricane strength.

Katrina's storm surge caused 53 levee breaches in the federally built levee system protecting metro New Orleans and the failure of the 40 Arpent Canal levee. Failures occurred in New Orleans and surrounding communities, especially St. Bernard Parish. The Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MR-GO) breached its levees in approximately 20 places, flooding much of eastern New Orleans, most of St. Bernard Parish and the East Bank of Plaquemines Parish. The major levee breaches in the city included breaches at the 17th Street Canal levee, the London Avenue Canal, and the wide, navigable Industrial Canal, which left approximately 80% of the city flooded. [61]

Most of the major roads traveling into and out of the city were damaged. The only major intact highway routes out of the city were the westbound Crescent City Connection and the Huey P. Long Bridge, as large portions of the I-10 Twin Span Bridge traveling eastbound towards Slidell, Louisiana had collapsed. Both the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and the Crescent City Connection only carried emergency traffic. [62] However, access to downtown New Orleans and the "shelter of last resort" at the Convention Center was never closed because River Road in Jefferson Parish and Leake Avenue and Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans were not flooded, and would have allowed access throughout the immediate post-storm emergency period.

On August 29, at 7:40 am CDT, it was reported that most of the windows on the north side of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans had been blown out, and many other high rise buildings had extensive window damage. [63] The Hyatt was the most severely damaged hotel in the city, with beds reported to be flying out of the windows. Insulation tubes were exposed as the hotel's glass exterior was completely sheared off. [64]

The Superdome, which was sheltering many people who had not evacuated, sustained significant damage. [65] Two sections of the Superdome's roof were compromised and the dome's waterproof membrane was essentially peeled off. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was closed before the storm but did not flood. On August 30, it was reopened to humanitarian and rescue operations. Limited commercial passenger service resumed at the airport on September 13 and regular carrier operations resumed in early October. [66]

Levee breaches in New Orleans also caused a significant number of deaths, with over 700 bodies recovered in New Orleans by October 23, 2005. [67] Some survivors and evacuees reported seeing dead bodies lying in city streets and floating in still-flooded sections, especially in the east of the city. The advanced state of decomposition of many corpses, some of which were left in the water or sun for days before being collected, hindered efforts by coroners to identify many of the dead. [68]

The first deaths reported from the city were reported shortly before midnight on August 28, as three nursing home patients died during an evacuation to Baton Rouge, most likely from dehydration. An estimated 215 bodies were found in nursing homes and hospitals in New Orleans, [69] the largest number being at Memorial Medical Center where 45 corpses were recovered. [70] Some 200 patients at Charity Hospital were not evacuated until Friday, September 2, having been without power or fresh water for five days. [71] While there were also early reports of fatalities amid mayhem at the Superdome, only six deaths were confirmed there, with four of these originating from natural causes, one from a drug overdose, and one a suicide. At the Convention Center, four bodies were recovered. One of the four is believed to be the result of a homicide. [72]

There is evidence that many prisoners were abandoned in their cells during the storm, while the guards sought shelter. Hundreds of prisoners were later registered as "unaccounted for". [73] [74] [75]

Mississippi

The Gulf coast of Mississippi suffered extremely severe damage from the impact of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, leaving 238 people dead, 67 missing, and billions of dollars in damage: bridges, barges, boats, piers, houses, and cars were washed inland. [76] Katrina traveled up the entire state as a result, all 82 counties in Mississippi were declared disaster areas for federal assistance, 47 for full assistance. [76]

After making a brief initial landfall in Louisiana, Katrina had made its final landfall near the state line, and the eyewall passed over the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 120 mph (190 km/h). [10] Katrina's powerful right-front quadrant passed over the west and central Mississippi coast, causing a powerful 27-foot (8.2 m) storm surge, which penetrated 6 miles (10 km) inland in many areas and up to 12 miles (19 km) inland along bays and rivers in some areas, the surge crossed Interstate 10 for several miles. [10] Hurricane Katrina brought strong winds to Mississippi, which caused significant tree damage throughout the state. The highest unofficial reported wind gust recorded from Katrina was one of 135 mph (217 km/h) in Poplarville, in Pearl River County. [10]

The storm also brought heavy rains with 8–10 inches (200–250 mm) falling in southwestern Mississippi and rain in excess of 4 inches (100 mm) falling throughout the majority of the state. Katrina caused eleven tornadoes in Mississippi on August 29, some of which damaged trees and power lines. [10]

Battered by wind, rain and storm surge, some beachfront neighborhoods were completely leveled. Preliminary estimates by Mississippi officials calculated that 90% of the structures within half a mile of the coastline were completely destroyed, [77] and that storm surges traveled as much as 6 miles (10 km) inland in portions of the state's coast. [48] One apartment complex with approximately thirty residents seeking shelter inside collapsed. More than half of the 13 casinos in the state, which were floated on barges to comply with Mississippi land-based gambling laws, were washed hundreds of yards inland by waves. [77]

A number of streets and bridges were washed away. On U.S. Highway 90 along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, two major bridges were completely destroyed: the Bay St. Louis–Pass Christian [10] bridge, and the Biloxi–Ocean Springs bridge. In addition, the eastbound span of the I-10 bridge over the Pascagoula River estuary was damaged. In the weeks after the storm, with the connectivity of the coastal U.S. Highway 90 shattered, traffic traveling parallel to the coast was reduced first to State Road 11 (parallel to I-10) then to two lanes on the remaining I-10 span when it was opened.

All three coastal counties of the state were severely affected by the storm. Katrina's surge was the most extensive, as well as the highest, in the documented history of the United States large portions of Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson counties were inundated by the storm surge, in all three cases affecting most of the populated areas. [78] Surge covered almost the entire lower half of Hancock County, destroying the coastal communities of Clermont Harbor and Waveland, much of Bay St. Louis, and flowed up the Jourdan River, flooding Diamondhead and Kiln. In Harrison County, Pass Christian was completely inundated, along with a narrow strip of land to the east along the coast, which includes the cities of Long Beach and Gulfport the flooding was more extensive in communities such as D'Iberville, which borders Back Bay. Biloxi, on a peninsula between the Back Bay and the coast, was particularly hard hit, especially the low-lying Point Cadet area. In Jackson County, storm surge flowed up the wide river estuary, with the combined surge and freshwater flooding cutting the county in half. Remarkably, over 90% of Pascagoula, the easternmost coastal city in Mississippi, and about 75 miles (120 km) east of Katrina's landfall near the Louisiana-Mississippi border was flooded from storm surge at the height of the storm. Other large Jackson County neighborhoods such as Porteaux Bay and Gulf Hills were severely damaged with large portions being completely destroyed, and St. Martin was hard hit Ocean Springs, Moss Point, Gautier and Escatawpa also suffered major surge damage.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency officials also recorded deaths in Forrest, Hinds, Warren, and Leake counties. Over 900,000 people throughout the state experienced power outages. [56]

Southeast United States

Although Hurricane Katrina made landfall well to the west, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle were both affected by tropical-storm-force winds and a storm surge varying from 12 to 16 feet (3.7–4.9 m) around Mobile Bay, [10] with higher waves on top. Sustained winds of 67 mph (108 km/h) were recorded in Mobile, Alabama, and the storm surge there was approximately 12 feet (3.7 m). [10] The surge caused significant flooding several miles inland along Mobile Bay. Four tornadoes were also reported in Alabama. [10] Ships, oil rigs, boats and fishing piers were washed ashore along Mobile Bay: the cargo ship M/V Caribbean Clipper and many fishing boats were grounded at Bayou La Batre.

An oil rig under construction along the Mobile River broke its moorings and floated 1.5 miles (2.4 km) northwards before striking the Cochrane Bridge just outside Mobile. No significant damage resulted to the bridge and it was soon reopened. The damage on Dauphin Island was severe, with the surge destroying many houses and cutting a new canal through the western portion of the island. An offshore oil rig also became grounded on the island. As in Mississippi, the storm surge caused significant beach erosion along the Alabama coastline. [10] More than 600,000 people lost power in Alabama as a result of Hurricane Katrina and two people died in a traffic accident in the state. Residents in some areas, such as Selma, were without power for several days. [56]

Northern and central Georgia were affected by heavy rains and strong winds from Hurricane Katrina as the storm moved inland, with more than 3 inches (75 mm) of rain falling in several areas. At least 18 tornadoes formed in Georgia on August 29, 2005, the most on record in that state for one day in August. The most serious of these tornadoes was an F2 tornado which affected Heard County and Carroll County. This tornado caused three injuries and one fatality and damaged several houses. The other tornadoes caused significant damages to buildings and agricultural facilities. In addition to the fatality caused by the F2 tornado, there was another fatality in a traffic accident. [79]

Eastern Arkansas received light rain from the passage of Katrina. [80] Gusty winds downed some trees and power lines, though damage was minimal. Katrina also caused a number of power outages in many areas, with over 100,000 customers affected in Tennessee, primarily in the Memphis and Nashville areas.

Other U.S. states and Canada

In Kentucky, rainfall from Katrina compounded flooding from a storm that had moved through during the previous weekend. A 10-year-old girl drowned in Hopkinsville. Dozens of businesses were closed and several families evacuated due to rising floodwaters. [81] As a result of the flooding, Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher declared three counties disaster areas and a statewide state of emergency. [82] [83] Additionally, wind gusts up to 72 mph (116 km/h) resulted in some damage. Downed trees and power lines were reported in several counties in western Kentucky, especially Calloway and Christian counties. Overall, more than 10,000 utility customers in western Kentucky experienced power outages. The remnants of Katrina spawned a tornado in Virginia, damaging at least 13 homes in Marshall. In addition, approximately 4,000 people lost electricity. Over 3 in (76 mm) of rain fell in portions of West Virginia, causing localized flooding in several counties. At least 103 homes and 7 buildings suffered some degree of water damage. A number of roads and bridges were inundated or washed out. The remnants of Katrina produced locally heavy precipitation in northeast Ohio, ranging from about 2 to 4 in (51 to 102 mm). Numerous streams and rivers overflowed their banks, forcing the closure of several roads, including Interstate 90 in Cleveland. Two deaths occurred due to a flood-related automobile accident in Huron County. Additionally, hundreds of homes and businesses suffered flood damage.

Katrina spawned five tornadoes in Pennsylvania, though none resulted in significant damage. Up to 5 in (130 mm) of rain fell in western New York. Gusty winds also left approximately 4,500 people in Buffalo without electricity. The remnants of Katrina brought 3 to 6 in (76 to 152 mm) of rain to portions of Massachusetts, causing flash flooding in Bristol and Plymouth counties. Several roads were closed due to floodwater inundation in Acushnet, Dartmouth, New Bedford, and Wareham, including Route 18 in New Bedford. Very minimal impact was reported in Rhode Island, with winds downing a tree and two electrical poles in the city of Warwick. In Vermont, 2.5 in (64 mm) of rain in Chittenden County caused cars to hydroplane on Interstate 89, resulting in many automobile accidents. The storm brought 3 to 5 in (76 to 127 mm) of precipitation to isolated areas of Maine and up to 9 in (230 mm) near Patten. Several roads were inundated or washed out by overflowing brooks and streams, including sections of U.S. Route 1 and Maine routes 11 and 159. Several structures and one parked vehicle were also affected by the waters. Wind gusts up to 60 mph (97 km/h) also impacted parts of Maine, felling trees and causing power outages in Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, Dover-Foxcroft, Sedgwick Ridge, and Sorrento.

In Canada, the remnants of Katrina brought rainfall amounts in excess of 3.94 in (100 mm) to many locations between the Niagara Peninsula and the Saint Lawrence River valley. [84] Severe local flooding occurred in Quebec, forcing the evacuations of dozens of homes in some communities as rivers began overflowing their banks and sewage systems were becoming overwhelmed by the influx of precipitation. Inundated and washed out roads, including Route 138 along the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River, Route 172 north of Tadoussac, and Route 385 near Forestville left several communities isolated for at least a week. [85]

Economic effects

The economic effects of the storm reached high levels. The Bush Administration sought $105 billion for repairs and reconstruction in the region, [88] which did not account for damage to the economy caused by potential interruption of the oil supply, destruction of the Gulf Coast's highway infrastructure, and exports of commodities such as grain. Katrina damaged or destroyed 30 oil platforms and caused the closure of nine refineries [48] the total shut-in oil production from the Gulf of Mexico in the six-month period following Katrina was approximately 24% of the annual production and the shut-in gas production for the same period was about 18%. [89] The forestry industry in Mississippi was also affected, as 1.3 million acres (5,300 km 2 ) of forest lands were destroyed. [90] The total loss to the forestry industry from Katrina is calculated to rise to about $5 billion. [90] Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of local residents were left unemployed. Before the hurricane, the region supported approximately one million non-farm jobs, with 600,000 of them in New Orleans. It is estimated that the total economic impact in Louisiana and Mississippi may eventually exceed $150 billion. [91] Forensic accountants were involved in the assessment of economic damages resulting from this catastrophe. [92]

Katrina displaced over one million people from the central Gulf coast to elsewhere across the United States, becoming the largest diaspora in the history of the United States. [93] Houston, Texas, had an increase of 35,000 people Mobile, Alabama, gained over 24,000 Baton Rouge, Louisiana, over 15,000 and Hammond, Louisiana, received over 10,000, nearly doubling its size. Chicago, Illinois received over 6,000 people, the most of any non-southern city. [94] By late January 2006, about 200,000 people were once again living in New Orleans, less than half of the pre-storm population. [95] By July 1, 2006, when new population estimates were calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau, the state of Louisiana showed a population decline of 219,563 or 4.87%. [96] Additionally, some insurance companies have stopped insuring homeowners in the area because of the high costs from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, or have raised homeowners' insurance premiums to cover their risk. [97]

Environmental effects

Large oil spills caused by Hurricane Katrina
Spills exceeding 10,000 US gallons (38,000 L) [98]
Spill Location Quantity
(US gal) (L)
Bass Enterprises (Cox Bay) 3,780,000 14,300,000
Shell (Pilot Town) 1,050,000 4,000,000
Chevron (Empire) 991,000 3,750,000
Murphy Oil (Meraux and Chalmette) 819,000 3,100,000
Bass Enterprises (Pointe à la Hache) 461,000 1,750,000
Chevron (Port Fourchon) 53,000 200,000
Venice Energy Services (Venice) 25,000 95,000
Shell Pipeline Oil (Nairn) 13,440 50,900
Sundown Energy (West Potash) 13,000 49,000

Katrina also had a profound impact on the environment. The storm surge caused substantial beach erosion, in some cases completely devastating coastal areas. In Dauphin Island (a barrier island), approximately 90 mi (140 km) to the east of the point where the hurricane made landfall, the sand that comprised the island was transported across the island into the Mississippi Sound, pushing the island towards land. [99] The storm surge and waves from Katrina also severely damaged the Chandeleur Islands, which had been affected by Hurricane Ivan the previous year. [100] The US Geological Survey has estimated 217 sq mi (560 km 2 ) of land was transformed to water by the hurricanes Katrina and Rita. [101] Before the storm, subsidence and erosion caused loss of land in the Louisiana wetlands and bayous. This, along with the canals built in the area, let Katrina keep more of its intensity when it struck. [102] The lands that were lost were breeding grounds for marine mammals, brown pelicans, turtles, and fish, and migratory species such as redhead ducks. [90] Overall, about 20% of the local marshes were permanently overrun by water as a result of the storm. [90]

The damage from Katrina forced the closure of 16 National Wildlife Refuges. Breton National Wildlife Refuge lost half its area in the storm. [103] As a result, the hurricane affected the habitats of sea turtles, Mississippi sandhill cranes, Red-cockaded woodpeckers, and Alabama Beach mice. [103]

Katrina also produced massive tree loss along the Gulf Coast, particularly in Louisiana's Pearl River Basin and among bottomland hardwood forests. Before the storm, the standard mortality rate for the area's trees was 1.9%, but this interval increased to 20.5% by the end of 2006. [104] Delayed mortality as an effect of the storm continued with rates up to 5% until 2011. [105] This significant loss in biomass caused greater decay and an increase in carbon emissions. For example, by 2006 the decreased biomass in bottomland hardwood forests contributed an amount of carbon which equated to roughly 140% of the net annual U.S. carbon sink in forest trees. [106]

The storm caused oil spills from 44 facilities throughout southeastern Louisiana, which resulted in over 7 million US gallons (26,000 m 3 ) of oil being leaked. Some spills were only a few hundred gallons and most were contained on-site, though some oil entered the ecosystem and residential areas. After a spill at the Murphy Oil refinery, for example, 1,800 homes were oiled in the towns of Chalmette and Meraux. [98] Unlike Hurricane Ivan, no offshore oil spills were officially reported after Hurricane Katrina. However, Skytruth reported some signs of surface oil in the Gulf of Mexico. [98]

Finally, as part of the cleanup effort, the floodwaters that covered New Orleans were pumped into Lake Pontchartrain, a process that took 43 days to complete. [48] These residual waters contained a mix of raw sewage, bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides, toxic chemicals, and oil, which sparked fears in the scientific community of massive numbers of fish dying. [90]

Reestablishing governance

Shortly after the hurricane moved away on August 30, 2005, some residents of New Orleans who remained in the city began looting stores. Many were in search of food and water that were not available to them through any other means, as well as non-essential items. [107] Additionally, there were reports of carjacking, murders, thefts, and rapes in New Orleans. Some sources later determined that many of the reports were inaccurate, greatly exaggerated or completely false, leading news agencies to print retractions. [108]

Thousands of National Guard and federal troops were mobilized and sent to Louisiana, with 7,841 in the area on August 29, to a maximum of 46,838 on September 10. A number of local law enforcement agents from across the country were temporarily deputized by the state. "They have M16s and are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will," Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said. [109] Congressman Bill Jefferson told ABC News: "There was shooting going on. There was sniping going on. Over the first week of September, law and order were gradually restored to the city." [110] Several shootings occurred between police and New Orleans residents, some involving police misconduct including an incident where police officers killed two unarmed civilians and seriously injured four others at Danziger Bridge. [111] Five former police officers pleaded guilty to charges connected to the Danziger Bridge shootings in the aftermath of the hurricane. Six other former or current officers appeared in court in June 2011. [112]

Overall, a number of arrests were made throughout the affected area, including some near the New Orleans Convention Center. A temporary jail was constructed of chain link cages in the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, the city's main train station. [113]

In West Virginia, where roughly 350 refugees were located, local officials took fingerprints to run criminal background checks on the refugees. The background checks found that 45% of the refugees had a criminal record of some nature, and that 22% had a violent criminal record. [114] Media speculation fueled a popular perception that the displaced New Orleans residents brought a wave of crime into the communities where they relocated, however, detailed studies of crime statistics in these communities did not reveal a significant increase in violent crime. [115] [116] [117]

Government response

Within the United States and as delineated in the National Response Plan, disaster response and planning is first and foremost a local government responsibility. When local government exhausts its resources, it then requests specific additional resources from the county level. The request process proceeds similarly from the county to the state to the federal government as additional resource needs are identified. Many of the problems that arose developed from inadequate planning and back-up communication systems at various levels. [118]

Some disaster recovery response to Katrina began before the storm, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) preparations that ranged from logistical supply deployments to a mortuary team with refrigerated trucks. A network of volunteers began rendering assistance to local residents and residents emerging from New Orleans and surrounding parishes as soon as the storm made landfall (even though many were directed to not enter the area), and continued for more than six months after the storm [118]

Of the 60,000 people stranded in New Orleans, the Coast Guard rescued more than 33,500. [119] Congress recognized the Coast Guard's response with an official entry in the Congressional Record, [120] and the Armed Service was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. [121]

The United States Northern Command established Joint Task Force (JTF) Katrina based out of Camp Shelby, Mississippi, to act as the military's on-scene response on Sunday, August 28, with US Army Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré as commander. [122] Approximately 58,000 National Guard personnel were activated to deal with the storm's aftermath, with troops coming from all 50 states. [123] The Department of Defense also activated volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol.

Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, decided to take over the federal, state, and local operations officially on August 30, 2005, citing the National Response Plan. [124] This was refused by Governor Blanco who indicated that her National Guard could manage. Early in September, Congress authorized a total of $62.3 billion in aid for victims. [125] Additionally, President Bush enlisted the help of former presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush to raise additional voluntary contributions, much as they did after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. [126] American flags were also ordered to be half-staff from September 2, 2005, to September 20, 2005, in honor of the victims. [127]

FEMA provided housing assistance (rental assistance, trailers, etc.) to more than 700,000 applicants—families and individuals. However, only one-fifth of the trailers requested in Orleans Parish were supplied, resulting in an enormous housing shortage in the city of New Orleans. [128] Many local areas voted to not allow the trailers, and many areas had no utilities, a requirement prior to placing the trailers. To provide for additional housing, FEMA has also paid for the hotel costs of 12,000 individuals and families displaced by Katrina through February 7, 2006, when a final deadline was set for the end of hotel cost coverage. After this deadline, evacuees were still eligible to receive federal assistance, which could be used towards either apartment rent, additional hotel stays, or fixing their ruined homes, although FEMA no longer paid for hotels directly. [129] As of March 30, 2010, there were still 260 families living in FEMA-provided trailers in Louisiana and Mississippi. [130]

Law enforcement and public safety agencies, from across the United States, provided a "mutual aid" response to Louisiana and New Orleans in the weeks following the disaster. Many agencies responded with manpower and equipment from as far away as California, Michigan, Nevada, New York, and Texas. This response was welcomed by local Louisiana authorities as their staff were either becoming fatigued, stretched too thin, or even quitting from the job. [131]

Two weeks after the storm, more than half of the states were involved in providing shelter for evacuees. By four weeks after the storm, evacuees had been registered in all 50 states and in 18,700 zip codes—half of the nation's residential postal zones. Most evacuees had stayed within 250 miles (400 km), but 240,000 households went to Houston and other cities over 250 miles (400 km) away and another 60,000 households went over 750 miles (1,200 km) away. [132]

Criticism of government response

The criticisms of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina primarily consisted of criticism of mismanagement and lack of leadership in the relief efforts in response to the storm and its aftermath. More specifically, the criticism focused on the delayed response to the flooding of New Orleans, and the subsequent state of chaos in the city. [72] The neologism Katrinagate was coined to refer to this controversy, and was a runner-up for "2005 word of the year." [133]

Within days of Katrina's August 29 landfall, public debate arose about the local, state and federal governments' role in the preparations for and response to the hurricane. Criticism was initially prompted by televised images of visibly shaken and frustrated political leaders, and of residents who remained stranded by floodwaters without water, food, or shelter. Deaths from thirst, exhaustion and violence days after the storm had passed fueled the criticism, as did the dilemma of the evacuees at facilities such as the Louisiana Superdome and the New Orleans Civic Center. Some alleged that race, class, and other factors could have contributed to delays in government response. For example, during A Concert for Hurricane Relief, a benefit concert for victims of the hurricane, rapper Kanye West veered off script and harshly criticized the government's response to the crisis, stating that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." [134]

In accordance with federal law, President George W. Bush directed the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, to coordinate the Federal response. Chertoff designated Michael D. Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as the Principal Federal Official to lead the deployment and coordination of all federal response resources and forces in the Gulf Coast region. However, the President and Secretary Chertoff initially came under harsh criticism for what some perceived as a lack of planning and coordination. Brown claimed that Governor Blanco resisted their efforts and was unhelpful. Governor Blanco and her staff disputed this. [135] Eight days later, Brown was recalled to Washington and Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad W. Allen replaced him as chief of hurricane relief operations. [136] Three days after the recall, Michael D. Brown resigned as director of FEMA in spite of having received recent praise from President Bush. [137]

Politicians, activists, pundits, and journalists also directed criticism at the local and state governments headed by Mayor Nagin of New Orleans and Louisiana Governor Blanco. Nagin and Blanco were criticized for failing to implement New Orleans' evacuation plan and for ordering residents to a shelter of last resort without any provisions for food, water, security, or sanitary conditions. Perhaps the most important criticism of Nagin was that he delayed his emergency evacuation order until 19 hours before landfall, which led to hundreds of deaths of people who could not find any way out of the city. [8]

The destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina raised other, more general public policy issues about emergency management, environmental policy, poverty, and unemployment. The discussion of both the immediate response and of the broader public policy issues may have affected elections and legislation enacted at various levels of government. The storm's devastation also prompted a Congressional investigation, which found that FEMA and the Red Cross "did not have a logistics capacity sophisticated enough to fully support the massive number of Gulf coast victims." Additionally, it placed responsibility for the disaster on all three levels of government. [8] An ABC News poll conducted on September 2, 2005, showed more blame was being directed at state and local governments (75%) than at the Federal government (67%), with 44% blaming Bush's leadership directly. [138] A later CNN/USAToday/Gallup poll showed that respondents disagreed widely on who was to blame for the problems in the city following the hurricane—13% said Bush, 18% said federal agencies, 25% blamed state or local officials and 38% said no one was to blame. [139]

International response

Over seventy countries pledged monetary donations or other assistance. Cuba and Venezuela (both considered as hostile to US government interest) were the first countries to offer assistance, pledging over $1 million, several mobile hospitals, water treatment plants, canned food, bottled water, heating oil, 1,100 doctors and 26.4 metric tons of medicine, though this aid was rejected by the U.S. government. [140] [141] [142] [143] Kuwait made the largest single pledge, $500 million other large donations were made by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (each $100 million), South Korea ($30 million), Australia ($10 million), India, China (both $5 million), New Zealand ($2 million), [144] Pakistan ($1.5 million), [145] Norway ($1.8 million), [146] and Bangladesh ($1 million). [147]

India sent tarps, blankets, and hygiene kits. An Indian Air Force IL-76 aircraft delivered 25 tonnes of relief supplies for the Hurricane Katrina victims at the Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, on September 13, 2005.

Israel sent an IDF delegation to New Orleans to transport aid equipment including 80 tons of food, disposable diapers, beds, blankets, generators and additional equipment which were donated from different governmental institutions, civilian institutions, and the IDF. [148] The Bush Administration announced in mid-September that it did not need Israeli divers and physicians to come to the United States for search and rescue missions, but a small team landed in New Orleans on September 10 to give assistance to operations already underway. The team administered first aid to survivors, rescued abandoned pets and discovered hurricane victims. [149]

Countries like Sri Lanka, which was still recovering from the Indian Ocean Tsunami, also offered to help. Canada, Mexico, Singapore, and Germany sent supplies, relief personnel (like Technisches Hilfswerk), troops, ships and water pumps to aid in the disaster recovery. Belgium sent in a team of relief personnel. The United Kingdom's donation of 350,000 emergency meals did not reach victims because of laws regarding mad cow disease. [150]

Russia's initial offer of two jets was declined by the U.S. State Department but accepted later. The French offer was also declined and requested later. [151]

Non-governmental organization response

The American Red Cross, America's Second Harvest (now known as Feeding America), Southern Baptist Convention, Salvation Army, Oxfam, Common Ground Collective, Burners Without Borders, [152] Emergency Communities, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Charities, Direct Relief, Service International, "A River of Hope", The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, [153] [154] [155] and many other charitable organizations provided aid to victims in the aftermath of the storm. They were not allowed into New Orleans proper by the National Guard for several days after the storm because of safety concerns. These organizations raised US$4.25 billion in donations from the public, with the Red Cross receiving over half of these donations. [156] Some smaller organizations and individuals ignored the access restrictions and provided early relief. For example, two privately chartered planes from FasterCures evacuated 200 patients from Charity Hospital in New Orleans. [157]

Volunteers from the Amateur Radio Emergency Service provided communications in areas where the communications infrastructure had been damaged or totally destroyed, relaying everything from 911 traffic to messages home. [158] In Hancock County, Mississippi, ham radio operators provided the only communications into or out of the area and even served as 911 dispatchers. [159]

Many private corporations also contributed to relief efforts. On September 13, 2005, it was reported that corporate donations amounted to $409 million, and were expected to exceed $1 billion. [160]

During and after the Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita, the American Red Cross had opened 1,470 shelters and registered 3.8 million overnight stays. None were allowed in New Orleans, however. A total of 244,000 Red Cross workers (95% of which were non-paid volunteers) were utilized throughout these three hurricanes. In addition, 346,980 comfort kits (including such basic necessities as toothpaste, soap, washcloths, and toys for children) and 205,360 cleanup kits (containing brooms, mops, and bleach) were distributed. For mass care, the organization served 68 million snacks and meals to victims of the disasters and to rescue workers. The Red Cross also had its Disaster Health services meet 596,810 contacts, and Disaster Mental Health services met 826,590 contacts. Red Cross emergency financial assistance was provided to 1.4 million families. Hurricane Katrina was the first natural disaster in the United States in which the American Red Cross utilized its "Safe and Well" family location website. [161] [162]

Direct Relief provided a major response in the Gulf states so health providers could treat the local patients and evacuees. Direct Relief furnished $10 million in medical material aid and cash grants to support clinics and health centers in the area. [163]

In the year following Katrina's strike on the Gulf Coast, The Salvation Army allocated donations of more than $365 million to serve more than 1.7 million people in nearly every state. The organization's immediate response to Hurricane Katrina included more than 5.7 million hot meals and about 8.3 million sandwiches, snacks, and drinks served in and around New Orleans. Its SATERN network of amateur radio operators picked up where modern communications left off to help locate more than 25,000 survivors. Salvation Army pastoral care counselors were on hand to comfort the emotional and spiritual needs of 277,000 individuals. As part of the overall effort, Salvation Army officers, employees, and volunteers contributed more than 900,000 hours of service. [164]

Analysis of New Orleans levee failures

According to a modeling exercise conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), two-thirds of the deaths in Greater New Orleans were due to levee and flood wall failure. [165] On April 5, 2006, months after independent investigators had demonstrated that levee failures were not caused by natural forces beyond intended design strength, Lieutenant General Carl Strock, Chief of Engineers and Commander of the Corps of Engineers, testified before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Water that "We have now concluded we had problems with the design of the structure." [166]

A June 2007 report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers determined that the failures of the levees and flood walls in New Orleans were found to be primarily the result of system design and construction flaws. [47] The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been federally mandated in the Flood Control Act of 1965 with responsibility for the conception, design, and construction of the region's flood-control system. All of the major studies in the aftermath of Katrina concluded that the USACE was responsible for the failure of the levees. This was primarily attributed to a decision to use shorter steel sheet pilings during construction in an effort to save money. [6] According to a report published in August 2015 in the official journal of the World Water Council, the Corps misinterpreted the results of a 1985 study and wrongly concluded that sheet piles in the flood walls needed to be driven to depths of only 17 feet (5 m) instead of between 31 and 46 feet (9 and 14 m). That decision saved approximately US$100 million, but significantly reduced overall engineering reliability. [167]

In January 2008, Judge Stanwood Duval of the U.S. District Court ruled that despite the Corps' role in the flooding, the agency [7] could not be held financially liable because of sovereign immunity in the Flood Control Act of 1928. Exactly ten years after Katrina, J. David Rogers, lead author of a new report in the official journal of the World Water Council, concluded that the flooding during Katrina "could have been prevented had the corps retained an external review board to double-check its flood-wall designs." [168]

Other factors may have contributed to the flooding. According to the authors of Catastrophe in the Making (Island Press, 2009), the straight design and lack of outward flow into the Gulf allowed the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal to become "the perfect shortcut for salt-water intrusion" which damaged buffering cypress forests and wetlands which historically had protected New Orleans from storm surge. [169] The Army Corps of Engineers built and maintained the canal. Furthermore, according to storm surge researcher Hassan Mashriqui:

Storm surge pushing across shallow Lake Borgne from the east is constrained by these MRGO levees to the south and, to the north, by the long-standing levees of the Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW). Initially ten or more miles apart, these two channels meet, and when they do, the water building between their levees is squeezed into a single channel – the Funnel – only 260 yards wide, constrained by levees 14 feet to 16 feet high….In concert with the denuded marshes, it could increase the local storm surge hitting the Intracoastal Waterway by 20 percent to 40 percent – a critical and fundamental flaw. [170]

The Corps of Engineers disputes these causalities. [171] Nonetheless, in June 2008, the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District submitted a Deep-Draft De-authorization Study of the MRGO which stated that "an economic evaluation of channel navigation use does not demonstrate a Federal interest in continued operation and maintenance of the channel." Congress ordered the MRGO closed as a direct result.

Many of the levees have been reconstructed since Katrina. In reconstructing them, precautions were taken to bring the levees up to modern building code standards and to ensure their safety. For example, in every situation possible, the Corps of Engineers replaced I-walls with T-walls, which have a horizontal concrete base that protects against soil erosion underneath the flood walls. [172]

Funding battles continue over the remaining levee improvements. In February 2008, the Bush administration requested that the state of Louisiana pay about $1.5 billion of an estimated $7.2 billion for Corps of Engineers levee work (in accordance with the principles of local cost-sharing required by Congress as early as the Flood Control Act of 1928), a proposal which angered many Louisiana leaders. [173] On May 2, 2008, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal used a speech to The National Press Club to request that President Bush free up money to complete work on Louisiana's levees. Bush promised to include the levee funding in his 2009 budget but rejected the idea of including the funding in a war bill, which would pass sooner. [174]

Media involvement

Many representatives of the news media reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina became directly involved in the unfolding events, instead of simply reporting. Because of the loss of most means of communication, such as land-based and cellular telephone systems, field reporters in many cases became conduits for information between victims and authorities. The authorities, who monitored local and network news broadcasts, as well as internet sites, would then attempt to coordinate rescue efforts based on the reports. One illustration was when Geraldo Rivera of Fox News tearfully pleaded for authorities to either send help or evacuate the thousands of evacuees stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. [175] The role of AM radio was also of importance to the hundreds of thousands of persons with no other ties to news, providing emergency information regarding access to assistance for hurricane victims. Immediately after Katrina, WWL-AM was one of the few area radio stations in the area remaining on the air. This emergency service, simulcasted on shortwave outlet WHRI, was named "The United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans." Their ongoing nighttime broadcasts continued to be available up to 500 mi (800 km) away. Announcers continued to broadcast from improvised studio facilities after the storm damaged their main studios. [176] The cellular phone antenna network was severely damaged and completely inoperable for several months.

The storm also brought a dramatic rise in the role of Internet sites—especially blogging and community journalism. One example was the effort of NOLA.com, the web affiliate of New Orleans' Times-Picayune. A group of reporters were awarded the Breaking News Pulitzer Prize [177] and shared the Public Service Pulitzer with the Biloxi-based Sun Herald. [178] The newspaper's coverage was carried for days only on NOLA's blogs, as the newspaper lost its presses and evacuated its building as water rose around it on August 30. The site became an international focal point for news by local media, and also became a vital link for rescue operations and later for reuniting scattered residents, as it accepted and posted thousands of individual pleas for rescue on its blogs and forums. NOLA was monitored constantly by an array of rescue teams—from individuals to the Coast Guard—which used information in rescue efforts. Much of this information was relayed from trapped victims via the SMS functions of their cell phones, to friends and relatives outside the area, who then relayed the information back to NOLA.com. The aggregation of community journalism, user photos, and the use of the internet site as a collaborative response to the storm attracted international attention and was called a watershed moment in journalism. [179] In the wake of these online-only efforts, the Pulitzer Committee for the first time opened all its categories to online entries. [180]

As the U.S. military and rescue services regained control over the city, there were restrictions on the activity of the media. On September 9, the military leader of the relief effort announced that reporters would have "zero access" to efforts to recover bodies in New Orleans. Immediately following this announcement, CNN filed a lawsuit and obtained a temporary restraining order against the ban. The next day the government backed down and reversed the ban. [181]

Retirement

Because of the large death toll and destruction of property along the Gulf Coast, the name Katrina was officially retired on April 6, 2006, by the World Meteorological Organization at the request of the U.S. government. The name will never again be used for another North Atlantic hurricane. It was replaced by Katia on List III of the Atlantic hurricane naming lists, which was used in the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. [182]

Studies concerning post-Katrina victims

An article published in the Community Mental Health Journal from January 2016 revealed information about a recent study on the psychosocial needs of Hurricane Katrina evacuees that temporarily resided in Dallas, Texas. More than one-fourth of the sample met the criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD). About one-third of the individuals received a referral to mental health services for meeting symptom criteria for incident MDD and PTSD. [183]

In a study published in Maternal and Child Health Journal, five to seven years after the disaster, 308 New Orleans pregnant women were interviewed about their exposure to Katrina. Researchers found that there were associations between experiencing damage during Katrina and birthweight, thus researchers concluded that natural disasters may have long-term effects on pregnancy outcomes. Furthermore, it was concluded that women who are most vulnerable to disaster may be more vulnerable to poor pregnancy outcome. [184]

From a September 2015 journal of Current Psychology, a study examined the attitudes of older, long-term residents of Baton Rouge, Louisiana toward displaced newcomers to their community. After using multiple tests, analyses, and descriptive statistics, the study suggested residents grew to become more patient, tolerant, and friendly towards newcomers. The study also suggests, however, that residents felt more fearful and suspicious of the evacuees, as well as the fact that they were being taken advantage of more. [185]

Reconstruction of each section of the southern portion of Louisiana has been addressed in the Army Corps LACPR (Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration) Final Technical Report, which identifies areas to not be rebuilt and areas where buildings need to be elevated. [186]

The Technical Report includes:

  • locations of possible new levees to be built
  • suggested existing levee modifications
  • "Inundation Zones", "Water depths less than 14 feet, Raise-In-Place of Structures", "Water depths greater than 14 feet, Buyout of Structures", "Velocity Zones" and "Buyout of Structures" areas for five different scenarios.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers submitted the report to the U.S. Congress for consideration, planning, and response in mid-2009.

Katrina is the costliest tropical cyclone on record, tying with Hurricane Harvey in 2017. [1] The storm was the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record to make landfall in the contiguous United States, behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, Hurricane Camille in 1969, and Hurricane Michael in 2018. [187] Katrina was also the earliest eleventh named storm in the Atlantic until Tropical Storm Kyle surpassed it on August 14, 2020, beating Katrina by 10 days, as it was named on August 24, 2005. [9]


Katrina, Then and Now

Levees can be natural or manufactured. They are essentially walls that prevent waterways from overflowing and flooding nearby areas. New Orleans has been protected by levees since the French began inhabiting the region in the 17th century, but modern levees were authorized for construction in 1965 after Hurricane Betsy flooded much of the city. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers then built a complex system of 350 miles of levees. Yet a report by the

Corps released in 2006 concluded that insufficient funding, information, and poor construction had left the flood system vulnerable to failure.

Even before Katrina made landfall off the Gulf, the incoming storm surge had started to overwhelm the levees, spilling into residential areas. More than 50 levees would eventually fail before the storm subsided. While the winds of the storm itself caused major damage in the city of New Orleans, such as downed trees and buildings, studies conducted in the years since concluded that failed levees accounted for the worst impacts and most deaths.


Hurricane Katrina Slams Into Gulf Coast Dozens Are Dead

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 29 - Hurricane Katrina pounded the Gulf Coast with devastating force at daybreak on Monday, sparing New Orleans the catastrophic hit that had been feared but inundating parts of the city and heaping damage on neighboring Mississippi, where it killed dozens, ripped away roofs and left coastal roads impassable.

Officials said that according to preliminary reports, there were at least 55 deaths, with 50 alone in Harrison County, Miss., which includes Gulfport and Biloxi. Emergency workers feared that they would find more dead among people who had been trapped in their homes and in collapsed buildings.

Jim Pollard, a spokesman for the Harrison County emergency operations center, said many of the dead were found in an apartment complex in Biloxi. Seven others were found in the Industrial Seaway.

Packing 145-mile-an-hour winds as it made landfall, the storm left more than a million people in three states without power and submerged highways even hundreds of miles from its center.

The storm was potent enough to rank as one of the most punishing hurricanes ever to hit the United States. Insurance experts said that damage could exceed $9 billion, which would make it one of the costliest storms on record.

In New Orleans, most of the levees held, but one was damaged. Floodwaters rose to rooftops in one neighborhood, and in many areas emergency workers pulled residents from roofs. The hurricane's howling winds stripped 15-foot sections off the roof of the Superdome, where as many as 10,000 evacuees took shelter.

Some of the worst damage reports came from east of New Orleans with an estimated 40,000 homes reported flooded in St. Bernard Parish. In Gulfport, the storm left three of five hospitals without working emergency rooms, beachfront homes wrecked and major stretches of the coastal highway flooded and unpassable.

"It came on Mississippi like a ton of bricks," Gov. Haley Barbour said at a midday news conference "It's a terrible storm."

President Bush promised extensive assistance for hurricane victims, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency was expected to be working in the area for months, assessing damage to properties and allocating what is likely to be billions of dollars in aid to homeowners and businesses.

In Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, the governors declared search and rescue their top priority, but they said high waters and strong winds were keeping them from that task, particularly in the hardest-hit areas.

The governors sent out the police and the National Guard after reports of looting, and officials in some parts of Louisiana said they would impose a curfew.

Hurricane Katrina was downgraded from Category 5 -- the most dangerous storm -- to Category 4 as it hit land in eastern Louisiana just after 6 a.m., and in New Orleans officials said the storm's slight shift to the east had spared them somewhat. The city is below sea level, and there had been predictions that the historic French Quarter would be under 18 or 20 feet of water.

Still, no one was finding much comfort here, with 100 m.p.h. winds and water surges of up to 15 feet. Officials said early in the day that more than 20 buildings had been toppled.

"I can't say that we've escaped the worst," Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said. "I think there is still damage that can be inflicted on the city. We don't even know what the worst is."

Preliminary damage estimates from the hurricane -- which raked across southern Florida last week as a Category 1 storm before reaching the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and making its run at the Gulf Coast -- ranged from $9 billion to $16 billion. Only Hurricane Andrew, which ripped through parts of Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi in August 1992, was costlier -- with nearly $21 billion in insured losses.

Beyond the property damage caused by flooding and the high winds, Hurricane Katrina also dealt a blow to the oil industry and the lucrative casinos that have been the economic engine for the region. Both oil production on offshore platforms and gambling in the string of casinos that dot the Mississippi Gulf Coast shut down on Sunday as the storm approached.

Since Friday, oil output in the Gulf of Mexico has been cut by 3.1 million barrels. Closing the casinos cost Mississippi $400,000 to $500,000 a day in lost tax revenue alone, and Mr. Barbour said officials had not yet been able to determine the extent of damage to the casinos.

The storm pounded New Orleans for eight hours straight. Flooding overwhelmed levees built to protect the city from the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, sending muddy water swirling into the narrow streets downtown. On the southern shore of the lake, entire neighborhoods of one-story homes were flooded to the rooflines, with nearby off-ramps for Interstate 10 looking like boat ramps amid the waves.

Along the lake were snapped telephone poles, trees blocking roads and live wires scattered over the roads. In one cabin, a family was cooking a chicken dinner over charcoal briquettes on a hibachi. They had lost power like everyone else in the area.

Windows were blown off condominiums, hotels, office buildings and Charity Hospital, sending chards of glass into the winds. Fires broke out despite torrential rain, some ignited, the authorities said, by residents who lighted candles after the electricity went out.

The storm knocked out telephone and cellular service across swaths of the gulf region, and officials in New Orleans said parts of the city could remain without power for weeks.

Two nuclear plants near the path of Hurricane Katrina appear to have weathered the storm without major damage, and a third shut down on Saturday, in anticipation of the hurricane, according to Entergy Nuclear, which owns all three. The extent of damage to the plant that shut down, Waterford, 20 miles west of New Orleans, was still unknown late Monday afternoon because the wind was blowing too hard to go out and look, said Diane Park, a spokeswoman.

The more sparsely populated parishes east of New Orleans, meanwhile, got hit much harder than anyone had expected.

Ms. Blanco said Plaquemines, Orleans, St. Bernard, Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes had been "devastated by high winds and floodwaters." In St. Bernard, the emergency center was submerged, and officials estimated that 40,000 homes, too, were flooded.

Parish officials reported in early afternoon that many residents had been driven to their roofs.

Officials estimated 80 percent of New Orleans residents had obeyed the order to evacuate. But in areas that had been expecting less damage, officials were worried -- and annoyed -- that large numbers of people tried to ride out the storm.

In Plaquemines and Terrebonne Parishes, south and west of the city, officials said they were particularly concerned about commercial fisherman who had decided to remain on their boats.

"My biggest concern is the loss of life," said State Senator Walter J. Boasso. "We have a lot of people down there hiding in their attics, and I don't know if we will get to them fast enough."

In Mississippi, Mr. Barbour said many people suffered from what he called "hurricane fatigue," deciding not to evacuate this time after having done so in the past only to be spared.

"We pray that those people are O.K.," he said. "But we don't know."

In Diamondhead, Miss., Don Haller and his 17-year-old son, Don Jr., were left clinging to the remains of their house when a 23-foot surge of water hit it, flexing the roof like a deck of cards.

They had decided against evacuating, Mr. Haller said, judging the storm "just a lot of rain."

"We rode the house," Mr. Haller said, emerging from the waters here, his son carrying their dachshund, Kuddles.

Mr. Barbour said casinos along the coast near Biloxi and Gulfport had been hit by surges of more than 20 feet. But casino workers could not reach them to survey the damage, he said, because U.S. 90 had "essentially been destroyed."

Along the coast in Mobile, Ala., 150 miles east of New Orleans, thousands of evacuees from Mississippi and Louisiana were filling shelters and the hotels that had remained open.

The lowest-lying areas of Mobile and Baldwin Counties in Alabama were evacuated on Sunday night. By noon, areas south of Interstate 10 were already flooding, and the storm surge was pushing the water toward the city of Mobile and Mobile Bay as the hurricane progressed.

Downtown Mobile, which is right on the bay, was severely flooded by Monday afternoon, the water pushing down the main streets around the county courthouse and lapping at the sandbagged doors and windows at the Mobile Museum. Water all but covered a number of street signs and parking meters, and large, heavy planters and some newspaper boxes floated down the streets.

The main hotels in the city were just a block or two from the worst flooding, causing concerns that they, too, would be flooded, at least in the main floors. And as power and phone lines went down, evacuees were getting restless.

Paul Weir said he had not left his home in Meraux, La., just outside New Orleans, during a storm since Hurricane Betsy in 1965, and left on Sunday morning only after hearing that Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5. He drove with his wife, daughter and four friends to Mobile with roads clogged with other residents fleeing, what is normally a three-hour drive took 12.

By Monday afternoon the family was obsessing about what they would find when they got home.

"If I was home, I would've went on a roof for two days just like everybody else," said Susan Weir, Mr. Weir's wife, said. "Iɽ rather be in that situation than here, honestly. This is expensive and I've only got a credit card with a $2,000 limit."

At the Ramada Hotel in downtown Mobile, Edith Frieson sat anxiously in a soggy room wondering why her husband had not returned. "He left maybe three hours ago to go down and see if he could check the house," said Mrs. Frieson, who lives on Dauphin Island, a narrow barrier island south of Mobile. The island was already flooding on Sunday afternoon.

Like most storms, Hurricane Katrina weakened as it came onshore, and by Monday evening the National Hurricane Center had downgraded it to a tropical storm. The center of the storm had moved its heavy rains toward Jackson, Miss.

But state officials said the hurricane had been an unusually large one, causing a wide swath of damage, and they expected to be dealing with damage for days if not weeks.

In Louisiana, Ms. Blanco pleaded with residents who had evacuated not to rush back.

"The roads are flooded, the power is out, the phones are down and there is no food or water, and many trees are down," she said.

"Wherever you live, it is still too dangerous for people to return home," she continued. "If you evacuated and you're in a shelter, if you're with friends and family, please, please stay there. Stay safe."

Michael D. Brown, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, reminded people that most injuries from hurricanes occurred after the storm had passed.

"Be careful," Mr. Brown said, standing next to the governor at a news conference. "Don't get in that water. Watch for downed power lines. If you're going to use a chainsaw, know how to use a chainsaw. If you're going to have a generator, know how to exercise and operate the generator. Be very, very careful. The storm is not over."

Mr. Brown also discouraged fire and emergency agencies outside the storm area from sending in crews unless they had been asked.

Even before the hurricane hit the New Orleans area, FEMA had positioned 23 of its disaster medical assistance teams and 7 search and rescue teams around the region. It also delivered generators, and stockpiles of water, ice and ready-to-eat meals. It even sent in two teams of veterinarians to provide care to any injured pets or other animals.

As of early Monday, about 52,000 people were in 240 shelters in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Texas, with the majority in the Superdome in New Orleans.


Hurricane Katrina - August 2005

Hurricane Katrina (August 2005) became a large and extremely powerful hurricane that caused enormous destruction and significant loss of life. It is the costliest hurricane to ever hit the United States, surpassing the record previously held by Hurricane Andrew from 1992. In addition, Katrina is one of the five deadliest hurricanes to ever strike the United States. In all, Hurricane Katrina was responsible for 1,833 fatalities and approximately $108 billion in damage (un-adjusted 2005 dollars).

On August 23rd, a tropical depression formed over the southeastern Bahamas, becoming Tropical Storm Katrina on August 24th as it moved into the central Bahamas. The storm continued to track west while gradually intensifying and made its initial landfall along the southeast Florida coast on August 25th as a Category 1 hurricane (80mph) on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. After moving west across south Florida and into the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Katrina intensified rapidly and attained Category 5 status (with peak sustained winds of 175mph) for a period of time as it moved northwest on August 28th. Katrina weakened to a Category 3 before making landfall along the northern Gulf Coast, first in southeast Louisiana (sustained winds: 125mph) and then made landfall once more along the Mississippi Gulf Coast (sustained winds: 120mph). Katrina finally weakened below hurricane intensity late on August 29th over east central Mississippi.

The damage and loss of life inflicted by this massive hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi was staggering with significant effects extending into Alabama and the western Florida panhandle. This was a storm that captivated the public and media with most coverage occurring in the New Orleans area. Considering the scope of its impacts, Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in United States history.

As Katrina set new minimum central pressure records while approaching the northern Gulf Coast on Sunday, August 28th, the storm made its final turn to the north as it moved toward southeastern Louisiana. Katrina was a large storm with a very distinct eye. Early on the 28th, Katrina reached a minimum central pressure of 902mb (at the peak) - ranking 7th lowest on record for all Atlantic Basin hurricanes - and rapidly intensified to a Category 5 (175mph).

Katrina then weakened to a Category 4 hurricane as it moved across the north central Gulf and weakened further to a strong Category 3 hurricane shortly before making landfall in southeast Louisiana. The central pressure at landfall was 920mb - ranking 3rd lowest on record for a US landfalling hurricane, behind Hurricane Camille in 1969 (900mb) and the Labor Day Hurricane that struck the Florida Keys in 1935 (892mb).

The storm continued moving north-northeast and made a second landfall over Hancock County, Mississippi (near the mouth of the Pearl River) - still Category 3. After Katrina moved inland into southern Mississippi on the afternoon of August 29th, the storm left a wake of devastation that will never be forgotten. The loss of life and property damage was heightened by breaks in the levees that separate New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain. At least 80% of New Orleans was under flood waters on August 31st.


Photo courtesy of NOAA, Office for Coastal Management, DigitalCoast

Although much will be written on the effects associated with this storm, this document will remain focused on Hurricane Katrina's impacts over inland southeast Mississippi, southwest Alabama and the northwest Florida Panhandle. Below are some of the regional impacts.
Jump to - Storm Surge, Wind, Tornadoes, Rainfall, Animations, Imagery, or Additional Information sections.

STORM SURGE
Known for its storm surge, Katrina&rsquos highest surge was found in a zone from just east of the eye near Bay St. Louis, MS east to the northern reaches of Mobile Bay. The Mobile State Docks measured the highest storm surge of 11.45 feet, while the lowest was 4.1 feet in the Santa Rosa Sound in northwest Florida. Storm surge was as high as 12-14 feet in Bayou La Batre, AL and likely close to 20 feet along the Mississippi-Alabama border.

Many homes were engulfed by Katrina&rsquos surge in Bayou La Batre, AL. Major beach erosion occurred from Dauphin Island to east of Des tin. The west end of Dauphin Island was completely under water with most of the homes on the west end washed away. The surge in Mobile Bay led to inundation of downtown Mobile causing the imposition of a dusk-to-dawn curfew. The Wallace Tunnel was closed due to high water from the surge. Most of the busine sses on the Causeway over Mobile Ba y were damaged or destroyed by the high water. An oil rig broke free and fl oated up Mobile Bay and became lodged underneath the Cochran-Africatown Bridge. The Mobile State Docks surge value of 11.45 feet was very close to being the highest value ever recorded. The previous record of 11.60 feet was set on July 5, 1916. [The exact location and degree of accuracy of the 1916 record surge value is unknown.]

No lives were lost due to the storm surge across Mobile and Baldwin Counties in southern Alabama. Long lead warning times were given by the NWS Offices in Mobile, AL and New Orleans, LA as to how high the surge would be. As early as two days before landfall, the NWS Office in Mobile issued a Hurricane Local Statement (at 725pm) that foretold of the historic storm surge values of 8-12 feet well east of Katrina's center.

Storm Surge Map depicting a portion of storm surge data.

Observed storm surge data [Note: Highest tides occurred August 29, 2005]


Hurricane Katrina Slams the Gulf Coast. - HISTORY

The application also provides information about U.S. coastal county population versus hurricane strikes since 1900.

  • GALVESTON 1900
  • ATLANTIC-GULF 1919
  • MIAMI 1926
  • SAN FELIPE-OKEECHOBEE 1928
  • FLORIDA KEYS LABOR DAY 1935
  • NEW ENGLAND 1938
  • GREAT ATLANTIC 1944
  • CAROL AND EDNA 1954
  • HAZEL 1954
  • CONNIE AND DIANE 1955
  • AUDREY 1957
  • DONNA 1960
  • CAMILLE 1969
  • AGNES 1972
  • TROPICAL STORM CLAUDETTE 1979
  • ALICIA 1983
  • GILBERT 1988
  • HUGO 1989
  • ANDREW 1992
  • TROPICAL STORM ALBERTO 1994
  • OPAL 1995
  • MITCH 1998
  • FLOYD 1999
  • KEITH 2000
  • TROPICAL STORM ALLISON 2001
  • IRIS 2001
  • ISABEL 2003
  • CHARLEY 2004
  • FRANCES 2004
  • IVAN 2004
  • JEANNE 2004
  • DENNIS 2005
  • KATRINA 2005
  • RITA 2005
  • WILMA 2005
  • IKE 2008

Galveston Hurricane 1900
This killer weather system was first detected over the tropical Atlantic on August 27. While the history of the track and intensity is not fully known, the system reached Cuba as a tropical storm on September 3 and moved into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on the 5th. A general west-northwestward motion occurred over the Gulf accompanied by rapid intensification. By the time the storm reached the Texas coast south of Galveston late on September 8, it was a Category 4 hurricane. After landfall, the cyclone turned northward through the Great Plains. It became extratropical and turned east-northeastward on September 11, passing across the Great Lakes, New England, and southeastern Canada. It was last spotted over the north Atlantic on September 15.

This hurricane was the deadliest weather disaster in United States history. Storm tides of 8 to 15 ft inundated the whole of Galveston Island, as well as other portions of the nearby Texas coast. These tides were largely responsible for the 8,000 deaths (estimates range from 6,000 to 12,000) attributed to the storm. The damage to property was estimated at $30 million.

Atlantic-Gulf Hurricane 1919
This fearsome cyclone was first detected near the Lesser Antilles on September 2. It moved generally west-northwestward for several days, passing near the Dominican Republic on September 4 and into the southeastern Bahamas on the 5th and 6th. At that time it became a hurricane. A westward turn on September 7 took the center across the central Bahamas on the 7th and 8th and into the Straits of Florida on the 9th. The now large hurricane was of Category 4 intensity as the eye passed just south of Key West, Florida and the Dry Tortugas on September 10. A continued west to west-northwestward motion brought the center to the Texas coast south of Corpus Christi as a Category 3 hurricane on September 14. The cyclone dissipated over northern Mexico and southern Texas the next day.

Although hurricane-force winds occurred over the Florida Keys and the central and south Texas coast, no reliable wind measurements are available from near the center. A storm surge of up to 12 ft inundated Corpus Christi, Texas causing major damage to the coastal areas. A ship moored near the Dry Tortugas measured a pressure of 27.37 inches as the center passed, and based on this, the storm is ranked as the third most intense to hit the United States.

The death toll was estimated at 600 to 900 people. Of these, more than 500 were lost on ten ships that either sunk or were reported missing. Damage in the United States was estimated at $22 million.

Great Miami Hurricane 1926
The "Great Miami" Hurricane was first spotted as a tropical wave located 1,000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles on September 11th. The system moved quickly westward and intensified to hurricane strength as it moved to the north of Puerto Rico on the 15th. Winds were reported to be nearly 150 mph as the hurricane passed over the Turks Islands on the 16th and through the Bahamas on the 17th. Little in the way of meteorological information on the approaching hurricane was available to the Weather Bureau in Miami. As a result, hurricane warnings were not issued until midnight on September 18th, which gave the booming population of South Florida little notice of the impending disaster.

The Category 4 hurricane's eye moved directly over Miami Beach and downtown Miami during the morning hours of the 18th. This cyclone produced the highest sustained winds ever recorded in the United States at the time, and the barometric pressure fell to 27.61 inches as the eye passed over Miami. A storm surge of nearly 15 feet was reported in Coconut Grove. Many casualties resulted as people ventured outdoors during the half-hour lull in the storm as the eye passed overhead. Most residents, having not experienced a hurricane, believed that the storm had passed during the lull. They were suddenly trapped and exposed to the eastern half of the hurricane shortly thereafter. Every building in the downtown district of Miami was damaged or destroyed. The town of Moore Haven on the south side of Lake Okeechobee was completely flooded by lake surge from the hurricane. Hundreds of people in Moore Haven alone were killed by this surge, which left behind floodwaters in the town for weeks afterward.

The hurricane continued northwestward across the Gulf of Mexico and approached Pensacola on September 20th. The storm nearly stalled to the south of Pensacola later that day and buffeted the central Gulf Coast with 24 hours of heavy rainfall, hurricane force winds, and storm surge. The hurricane weakened as it moved inland over Louisiana later on the 21st. Nearly every pier, warehouse, and vessel on Pensacola Bay was destroyed.
The great hurricane of 1926 ended the economic boom in South Florida and would be a $90 billion disaster had it occurred in recent times. With a highly transient population across southeastern Florida during the 1920s, the death toll is uncertain since more than 800 people were missing in the aftermath of the cyclone. A Red Cross report lists 373 deaths and 6,381 injuries as a result of the hurricane.

San Felipe-Okeechobee Hurricane 1928
This classic Cape Verde hurricane was first detected over the tropical Atlantic on September 10, although it likely formed several days earlier. It moved westward through the Leeward Islands on the 12th. It then turned west-northwestward, scoring a direct hit on Puerto Rico on the 13th (the feast of San Felipe) as a Category 4 hurricane. The hurricane continued west-northwestward through the Bahamas and made landfall near Palm Beach, Florida on September 16. It turned north-northeastward over the Florida Peninsula on the 17th, a motion which brought the remains of the storm to eastern North Carolina on the 19th. It then turned northward and merged with a non-tropical low over the eastern Great Lakes on September 20.

No reliable wind readings are available from near the landfall area in Florida. However, Palm Beach reported a minimum pressure of 27.43 in, making this the fourth strongest hurricane of record to hit the United States. In Puerto Rico, San Juan reported 144 mph sustained winds, while Guayama reported a pressure of 27.65 inches. Additionally, a ship just south of St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands (USVI) reported a pressure of 27.50 inches, while Guadeloupe in the Leeward Islands reported a pressure of 27.76 inches.

This hurricane caused heavy casualties and extensive destruction along its path from the Leeward Islands to Florida. The worst tragedy occurred at inland Lake Okeechobee in Florida, where the hurricane caused a lake surge of 6 to 9 ft that inundated the surrounding area. 1,836 people died in Florida, mainly due to the lake surge. An additional 312 people died in Puerto Rico, and 18 more were reported dead in the Bahamas. Damage to property was estimated at $50,000,000 in Puerto Rico and $25,000,000 in Florida.

Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane 1935
This system was first detected east of the central Bahamas on August 29. Moving westward, it passed near Andros Island on September 1, at which time it reached hurricane strength and turned west-northwestward. Phenomenal strengthening then occurred, and when the storm reached the middle Florida Keys on September 2, it was a Category 5 hurricane. After roaring through the Keys, the hurricane turned gradually northward almost parallel to the Florida west coast until it again made landfall near Cedar Key as a Category 2 hurricane on the 4th. A northeastward motion took the storm across the southeastern United States to the Atlantic coast near Norfolk, Virgina on September 6. It continued into the Atlantic, becoming extratropical on the 7th and last being detected on the 10th.

No wind measurements are available from the core of this small, but vicious hurricane. A pressure of 26.35 inches measured at Long Key, Florida makes this the most intense hurricane of record to hit the United States and the third most intense hurricane of record in the Atlantic basin (surpassed only by the 26.05 inches in Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and 26.22 inches observed in Hurricane Gilbert in 1988).

The combination of winds and tides were responsible for 408 deaths in the Florida Keys, primarily among World War I veterans working in the area. Damage in the United States was estimated at $6 million.

New England Hurricane 1938
The "Long Island Express" was first detected over the tropical Atlantic on September 13, although it may have formed a few days earlier. Moving generally west-northwestward, it passed to the north of Puerto Rico on the 18th and 19th, likely as a category 5 hurricane. It turned northward on September 20 and by the morning of the 21st it was 100 to 150 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. At that point, the hurricane accelerated to a forward motion of 60 to 70 mph, making landfall over Long Island and Connecticut that afternoon as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm became extratropical after landfall and dissipated over southeastern Canada on September 22.

Blue Hill Observatory, Massachusetts measured sustained winds of 121 mph with gusts to 183 mph (likely influenced by terrain). A U.S. Coast Guard station on Long Island measured a minimum pressure of 27.94 in. Storm surges of 10 to 12 ft inundated portions of the coast from Long Island and Connecticut eastward to southeastern Massachusetts, with the most notable surges in Narragansett Bay and Buzzards Bay. Heavy rains before and during the hurricane produced river flooding, most notably along the Connecticut River.

This hurricane struck with little warning and was responsible for 600 deaths and $308 million in damage in the United States.

Great Atlantic Hurricane 1944
This large and powerful hurricane was first detected northeast of the Leeward Islands on September 9. It moved west-northwestward through the 12th, then turned northward on a track that brought the center near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on the 14th. The cyclone accelerated north-northeastward, moving across eastern New England and into Canada by September 15. The storm became extratropical over Canada and finally merged with a larger low near Greenland on September 16. This hurricane was of Category 3 intensity at landfalls at Cape Hatteras, Long Island, and Point Judith, Rhode Island, and Category 2 as far north as the coast of Maine.

Cape Henry, VA reported 134 mph sustained winds (measured 90 ft above the ground) with estimated gusts to 150 mph. Widespread hurricane-force winds were reported elsewhere along the storm track from North Carolina to Massachusetts with a maximum reported gust of 109 mph at Hartford, Connecticut. Rainfall totals of 6 to 11 inches accompanied the storm.

While this hurricane caused 46 deaths and $100 million in damage in the United States, the worst effects occurred at sea where it wreaked havoc on World War II shipping. Five ships, including a U. S. Navy destroyer and minesweeper, two U. S. Coast Guard cutters, and a light vessel, sank due to the storm causing 344 deaths.

Hurricanes Carol and Edna 1954
Carol formed near the central Bahama Islands on August 25, and moved slowly northward and north-northwestward. By August 30 it was a hurricane about 100-150 miles east of Charleston, South Carolina. It then accelerated north-northeastward, make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane over Long Island, New York and Connecticut on the 31st. The cyclone became extratropical later that day as it crossed the remainder of New England and southeastern Canada.

Sustained winds of 80 to 100 mph were reported over much of eastern Connecticut, all of Rhode Island, and eastern Massachusetts. A peak gust of 130 mph was reported at Block Island, Rhode Island, while gusts of 100 to 125 mph occurred over much of the rest of the affected area. Storm surge flooding occurred along the New England coast from Long Island northward, with water depths of 8 to 10 ft reported in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. Carol was responsible for 60 deaths and $461 million in damage in the United States.

No discussion of Carol is complete without mention of the remarkably similar Hurricane Edna. This storm first formed east of the Windward Islands on September 2. It moved northwestward, and by September 7 it was a hurricane very near where Carol had formed two weeks before. From this point, Edna followed a path just east of Carol's. It accelerated past Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on September 10 and made landfall over Cape Cod as a Category 3 hurricane the next day. Edna moved across Maine into eastern Canada later on the 11th as it became extratropical.

Martha's Vinyard, Massachusetts reported a peak wind gust of 120 mph during Edna, and much of the rest of the affected area had gusts of 80 to 100 mph. The storm was responsible for 20 deaths and $40 million in damage in the United States.

For interactive maps of Hurricanes Edna visit the NOAA Office for Coastal Management.

Hurricane Hazel 1954
Hazel was first spotted east of the Windward Islands on October 5. It moved through the islands later that day as a hurricane, then it moved westward over the southern Caribbean Sea through October 8. A slow turn to the north-northeast occurred from October 9-12, with Hazel crossing western Haiti as a hurricane on the 12th. The hurricane turned northward and crossed the southeastern Bahamas on the 13th, followed by a northwestward turn on the 14th. Hazel turned north and accelerated on October 15, making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near the North Carolina-South Carolina border. Subsequent rapid motion over the next 12 hours took the storm from the coast across the eastern United States into southeastern Canada as it became extratropical.

High winds occurred over large portions of the eastern United States. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina reported a peak wind gust of 106 mph, and winds were estimated at 130 to 150 mph along the coast between Myrtle Beach and Cape Fear, North Carolina. Washington, DC reported 78 mph sustained winds, and peak gusts of over 90 mph occurred as far northward as inland New York state. A storm surge of up to 18 ft inundated portions of the North Carolina coast. Heavy rains of up to 11 inches occurred as far northward as Toronto, Canada resulting in severe flooding.

Hazel was responsible for 95 deaths and $281 million in damage in the United States, 100 deaths and $100 million in damage in Canada, and an estimated 400 to 1000 deaths in Haiti.

Hurricanes Connie and Diane 1955
These two hurricanes must be mentioned together. They struck the North Carolina coast only five days apart, and the rains from Connie set the stage for the devastating floods caused by Diane.

Connie was first detected as a tropical storm over the tropical Atlantic on August 3. It moved just north of west for several days, reaching hurricane strength several hundred miles northeast of the Leeward Islands on the 5th. After passing north of the Leewards on the 6th, Connie turned northwestward - a motion that continued until the 10th. An erratic, generally north-northwestward motion then brought Connie to the North Carolina coast on August 12 as a Category 3 hurricane. This was followed by a gradual northwestward turn through August 14, when Connie dissipated over the eastern Great Lakes.

Fort Macon, North Carolina reported 75 mph sustained winds with gusts to 100 mph, while a storm surge of up to 8 ft occurred along the coast. There were no reported deaths and the damage in the United States was $40 million. However, the most significant aspect of Connie was the rainfall of up to 12 inches that affected the northeastern United States.

Diane was first detected over the tropical Atlantic on August 7. Moving generally west-northwestward, the cyclone became a tropical storm on the 9th. Diane became a hurricane on August 11, by which time it was moving northwestward. A northward turn occurred on the 12th, followed by a westward turn on the 13th and a west-northwestward motion on the 14th. This motion brought Diane to the North Carolina coast on August 17 as a Category 1 hurricane. The storm turned northward across Virginia, then it turned northeastward and moved back into the Atlantic near Long Island, New York on August 19. Diane became extratropical over the North Atlantic on the 21st.

Hurricane conditions affected only a small part of the North Carolina coast, and the damage from winds and tides was relatively minor. The main impact was heavy rains. Diane poured 10 to 20 inches of rain on areas soaked by Connie just a few days before, producing widespread severe flooding from North Carolina to Massachusetts. The floods were responsible were 184 deaths and $832 million in damage.

Hurricane Audrey 1957
Audrey was first detected over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on June 24. It moved slowly northward as it became a tropical storm and a hurricane the next day. A faster northward motion brought the center to the coast near the Texas-Louisiana border on the 27th. Rapid strengthening in the last six hours before landfall meant Audrey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. The cyclone turned northeastward after landfall, becoming extratropical over northern Mississippi on June 28 and merging with another low over the Great Lakes the next day. The combined system was responsible for strong winds and heavy rains over portions of the eastern United States and Canada.

No reliable wind or pressure measurements are available from Audrey's core at landfall. The main impact was from 8 to 12 ft storm surges that penetrated as far inland as 25 miles over portions of low-lying southwestern Louisiana. These surges were responsible for the vast majority of the 390 deaths from Audrey. Damage in the United States was estimated at $150 million.

Hurricane Donna 1960
One of the all-time great hurricanes, Donna was first detected as a tropical wave moving off the African coast on August 29. It became a tropical storm over the tropical Atlantic the next day and a hurricane on September 1. Donna followed a general west-northwestward track for the following five days, passing over the northern Leeward Islands on the 4th and 5th as a Category 4 hurricane and then to the north of Puerto Rico later on the 5th. Donna turned westward on September 7 and passed through the southeastern Bahamas. A northwestward turn on the 9th brought the hurricane to the middle Florida Keys the next day at Category 4 intensity. Donna then curved northeastward, crossing the Florida Peninsula on September 11, followed by eastern North Carolina (Category 3) on the 12th, and the New England states (Category 3 on Long Island and Categories 1 to 2 elsewhere) on the 12th and 13th. The storm became extratropical over eastern Canada on the 13th.

Donna is the only hurricane of record to produce hurricane-force winds in Florida, the Mid-Atlantic states, and New England. Sombrero Key, Florida reported 128 mph sustained winds with gusts to 150 mph. In the Mid-Atlantic states, Elizabeth City, North Carolina reported 83 mph sustained winds, while Manteo, North Carolina reported a 120 mph gust. In New England, Block Island, Rhode Island reported 95 mph sustained winds with gusts to 130 mph.

Donna caused storm surges of up to 13 ft in the Florida Keys and 11 ft surges along the southwest coast of Florida. Four to eight ft surges were reported along portions of the North Carolina coast, with 5 to 10 ft surges along portions of the New England coast. Heavy rainfalls of 10 to 15 inches occurred in Puerto Rico, 6 to 12 inches in Florida, and 4 to 8 inches elsewhere along the path of the hurricane.

The landfall pressure of 27.46 inches makes Donna the fifth strongest hurricane of record to hit the United States. It was responsible for 50 deaths in the United States. One hundred and fourteen deaths were reported from the Leeward Islands to the Bahamas, including 107 in Puerto Rico caused by flooding from the heavy rains. The hurricane caused $387 million in damage in the United States and $13 million elsewhere along its path.

Hurricane Camille 1969
This powerful, deadly, and destructive hurricane formed just west of the Cayman Islands on August 14. It rapidly intensified and by the time it reached western Cuba the next day it was a Category 3 hurricane. Camille tracked north-northwestward across the Gulf of Mexico and became a Category 5 hurricane on August 16. The hurricane maintained this intensity until it made landfall along the Mississippi coast late on the 17th. Camille weakened to a tropical depression as it crossed Mississippi into western Tennessee and Kentucky, then it turned eastward across West Virginia and Virginia. The cyclone moved into the Atlantic on August 20 and regained tropical storm strength before becoming extratropical on the 22nd.

A minimum pressure of 26.84 inches was reported in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, which makes Camille the second most intense hurricane of record to hit the United States. The actual maximum sustained winds will never be known, as the hurricane destroyed all the wind-recording instruments in the landfall area. The estimates at the coast are near 200 mph. Columbia, Mississippi, located 75 miles inland, reported 120 mph sustained winds. A storm tide of 24.6 ft occurred at Pass Christian, Mississippi. The heaviest rains along the Gulf Coast were about 10 inches. However, as Camille passed over the Virginias, it produced a burst of 12 to 20 inch rains with local totals of up to 31 inches. Most of this rain occurred in 3 to 5 hours and caused catastrophic flash flooding.

The combination of winds, surges, and rainfalls caused 256 deaths (143 on the Gulf Coast and 113 in the Virginia floods) and $1.421 billion in damage. Three deaths were reported in Cuba.

Hurricane Agnes 1972
The large disturbance that became Agnes was first detected over the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico on June 14. The system drifted eastward and became a tropical depression later that day and a tropical storm over the northwestern Caribbean on the 16th. Agnes turned northward on June 17 and became a hurricane over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico the next day. A continued northward motion brought Agnes to the Florida Panhandle coast on June 19 as a Category 1 hurricane. Agnes turned northeastward after landfall and weakened to a depression over Georgia. However, it regained tropical storm strength over eastern North Carolina on June 21 and moved into the Atlantic later that day. A northwestward turn followed, and a just-under-hurricane-strength Agnes made a final landfall on the 22nd near New York, New York. The storm merged with a non-tropical low on June 23rd, with the combined system affecting the northeastern United States until the 25th.

Agnes was barely a hurricane at landfall in Florida, and the effects of winds and storm surges were relatively minor. The major impact was over the northeastern United States, where Agnes combined with the non-tropical low to produce widespread rains of 6 to 12 inches with local amounts of 14 to 19 inches. These rains produced widespread severe flooding from Virginia northward to New York, with other flooding occurring over the western portions of the Carolinas.

Agnes caused 122 deaths in the United States. Nine of these were in Florida (mainly from severe thunderstorms) while the remainder were associated with the flooding. The storm was responsible for $2.1 billion in damage in the United States, the vast majority of which came from the flooding. Agnes also affected western Cuba, where seven additional deaths occurred.

Tropical Storm Claudette 1979
Claudette was first detected as a tropical wave that moved off the African coast on July 11. The wave spawned a tropical depression on July 16 that briefly became a tropical storm the next day as it approached the Leeward and Virgin Islands. Claudette weakened to a tropical depression and then a tropical wave while passing near Puerto Rico on the 18th, and little re-development occurred until the system moved into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on the 21st. Claudette regained tropical storm strength over the western Gulf on July 23 and made landfall the next day near the Louisiana-Texas border. It made a slow loop over southeastern Texas on the 24th and 25th, followed by a northward motion into Oklahoma on the 27th. The remnants of Claudette turned eastward and merged with a frontal system over West Virginia on July 29.

Claudette produced tropical storm conditions along portions of the Texas and Louisiana coasts, but the storm will be most remembered for its rainfall. Widespread amounts in excess of 10 inches occurred over portions of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana, with several local amounts in excess of 30 inches. An observer west of Alvin, Texas reported 43 inches in 24 hours, which is a United States record for 24 hour rainfall amount. The storm total at that location was 45 inches. The rains produced severe flooding that was responsible for one death and $400 million in damage. The storm also produced heavy rains over portions of Puerto Rico that were responsible for one death.

Hurricane Alicia 1983
Alicia formed over the north central Gulf of Mexico on August 15. It drifted slowly westward and northwestward while steadily strengthening on the 16th and 17th. This motion brought Alicia over the western end of Galveston Island, Texas as a Category 3 hurricane on August 18. Alicia moved northwestward into Oklahoma as a tropical depression on August 19, then turned northward before dissipating over Nebraska on the 21st.

The Coast Guard cutter Buttonwood moored at Galveston reported sustained winds of 96 mph with gusts to 125 mph. Hobby Airport at Houston, Texas reported 94 mph sustained winds with gusts to 107 mph. Wind gusts of hurricane force in downtown Houston littered the streets with broken glass as windows broke in the high-rise buildings. Additionally, twenty-three tornadoes were reported from Alicia.

Alicia was responsible for 21 deaths and $2 billion in damage in the United States.

Hurricane Gilbert 1988
A tropical wave exiting the African coastline on September 3rd developed into the 12th tropical depression of the season on September 8th while approaching the Windward Islands. The cyclone rapidly strengthened to hurricane status on September 10th as a west-northwest motion brought Gilbert into the eastern Caribbean Sea. Gilbert passed directly over Jamaica on September 12th as a major hurricane, becoming the first direct impact for the island from a hurricane since 1951. Winds gusted to nearly 150 mph as Gilbert produced a 9-foot storm surge along Jamaica’s northeast coast. Jamaica was devastated as the eyewall traversed the entire length of the island. During this period the eye contracted from 25 nmi to only 12 nmi upon exiting Jamaica.

Gilbert emerged off the western coastline of Jamaica and began a period of extraordinarily rapid intensification. The ferocious hurricane strengthened to Category 4 status as its northern eyewall pounded Grand Cayman Island with 155 mph wind gusts early on September 13th. Gilbert’s remarkable intensification trend continued as the cyclone reached Category 5 status on the afternoon of the 13th and eventually reached peak winds of 185 mph. The minimum central pressure of the cyclone plummeted to 888 millibars, which represented a 70-millibar drop in only a 24-hour period. This minimum central pressure recorded by NOAA aircraft was the lowest pressure ever recorded in the western hemisphere until Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Gilbert crossed the northeast coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula on September 14th, becoming the first Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin to strike land since Camille in 1969.

Gilbert weakened over the Yucatan peninsula and emerged into the western Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane. Gilbert’s large circulation regained major hurricane status as the cyclone continued on a west-northwest course on the 16th. The hurricane made its final landfall near the town of La Pesca on the Mexican Gulf Coast on the evening of September 16th as a strong Category 3 hurricane. Gilbert’s remnants spawned 29 tornadoes over Texas on September 18th, with flooding spreading to the Midwest as the remnants merged with a frontal boundary over Missouri on September 19th. Although no reliable measurements of storm surge exist from Gilbert’s two Mexican landfalls, estimates are that Gilbert produced between 15 and 20 feet of surge along the Yucatan and 8 to 13 feet at landfall in mainland Mexico.

Gilbert’s large size and impacts were felt over much of the Caribbean, Central America as well as portions of the United States. The death toll of 318 gives an idea of the scope of Gilbert's impacts: Mexico 202, Jamaica 45, Haiti 30, Guatemala 12, Honduras 12, Dominican Republic 5, Venezuela 5, United States 3, Costa Rica 2, and Nicaragua 2. The deaths from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Venezuela were caused by inland flash flooding from outer rainbands.

Hurricane Hugo 1989
This classic Cape Verde hurricane was first detected as a tropical wave emerging from the coast of Africa on September 9. Moving steadily westward, the system became a tropical depression the next day, a tropical storm on the 11th, and a hurricane on the 13th. Hugo turned west-northwest on September 15 as it became a Category 5 hurricane. It was still a Category 4 hurricane when the center moved through the Leeward Islands and St. Croix, USVI, and the 18th. Turning northwestward, the center passed across the eastern end of Puerto Rico on September 19. This general motion would continue with some acceleration until Hugo made landfall just north of Charleston, South Carolina on 22 September. Strengthening in the last twelve hours before landfall made Hugo a Category 4 hurricane at the coast. After landfall, the storm gradually recurved northeastward, becoming extratropical over southeastern Canada on September 23.

The Naval Air Station at Roosevelt Roads, PR reported sustained winds of 104 mph with gusts to 120 mph, which were the highest winds reported from the Caribbean. A ship moored in the Sampit River in South Carolina measured sustained winds of 120 mph. High winds associated with Hugo extended far inland, with Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina reporting 67 mph sustained winds with gusts to 110 mph and Charlotte, North Carolina reporting 69 mph sustained winds and gusts to 99 mph.

Storm surge from Hugo inundated the South Carolina Coast from Charleston to Myrtle Beach, with maximum storm tides of 20 ft observed in the Cape Romain-Bulls Bay area.

Hugo was responsible for 21 deaths in the mainland United States, five more in Puerto Rico and the U. S. Virgin Islands, and 24 more elsewhere in the Caribbean. Damage estimates are $7 billion in the mainland United States and $1 billion in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Hurricane Andrew 1992
One of the most destructive United States hurricanes of record started modestly as a tropical wave that emerged from the west coast of Africa on August 14. The wave spawned a tropical depression on August 16, which became Tropical Storm Andrew the next day. Further development was slow, as the west-northwestward moving Andrew encountered an unfavorable upper-level trough. Indeed, the storm almost dissipated on August 20 due to vertical wind shear. By August 21, Andrew was midway between Bermuda and Puerto Rico and turning westward into a more favorable environment. Rapid strengthening occurred, with Andrew reaching hurricane strength on the 22nd and Category 4 status on the 23rd. After briefly weakening over the Bahamas, Andrew regained Category 4 status as it blasted its way across south Florida on August 24. The hurricane continued westward into the Gulf of Mexico where it gradually turned northward. This motion brought Andrew to the central Louisiana coast on August 26 as a Category 3 hurricane. Andrew then turned northeastward, eventually merging with a frontal system over the Mid-Atlantic states on August 28.

Reports from private barometers helped establish that Andrew's central pressure at landfall in Homestead, Florida was 27.23 inches, which makes it the third most intense hurricane of record to hit the United States. Andrew's peak winds in south Florida were not directly measured due to destruction of the measuring instruments. An automated station at Fowey Rocks reported 142 mph sustained winds with gusts to 169 mph (measured 144 ft above the ground), and higher values may have occurred after the station was damaged and stopped reporting. The National Hurricane Center had a peak gust of 164 mph (measured 130 ft above the ground), while a 177 mph gust was measured at a private home. Additionally, Berwick, LA reported 96 mph sustained winds with gusts to 120 mph.

Andrew produced a 17 ft storm surge near the landfall point in Florida, while storm tides of at least 8 ft inundated portions of the Louisiana coast. Andrew also produced a killer tornado in southeastern Louisiana.

Andrew is responsible for 23 deaths in the United States and three more in the Bahamas. The hurricane caused $26.5 billion in damage in the United States, of which $1 billion occurred in Louisiana and the rest in south Florida. The vast majority of the damage in Florida was due to the winds. Damage in the Bahamas was estimated at $250 million.

More images of Andrew are available from NASA Goddard Laboratory website.

Tropical Storm Alberto 1994
Alberto was first detected as a tropical wave that moved off the African coast on 18 June. The wave moved into the western Caribbean by late June and formed into a tropical depression near the western tip of Cuba on June 30. The cyclone moved northwest through July 1 as it became a tropical storm, then it turned northward. This motion continued until the cyclone made landfall in the western Florida Panhandle on the 4th. Alberto then moved north-northeastward into western Georgia, where it did a loop on the 5th and 6th. The cyclone finally dissipated over central Alabama on July 7.

Alberto's winds and tides produced only minor damage at the coast, but the excessive rains that fell in Georgia, Alabama, and western Florida were another story. Amounts exceeded 10 inches in many locations, with the maximum being the 27.61 inch storm total at Americus, GA (including 21 inches in 24 hours). Severe flooding resulted over large portions of southern Georgia, western Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle. The floods were responsible for 30 deaths and $500 million in damage.

More information on flooding from Alberto is available at the National Climatic Data Center website.

Hurricane Opal 1995
Opal was first detected as a tropical wave moving off the African coast on September 11. The waved moved westward through the Atlantic and Caribbean and merged with a broad low pressure area over the western Caribbean on September 23. The combined system then developed into a tropical depression near the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula on September 27. The depression drifted slowly northward, becoming Tropical Storm Opal as it reached the north coast of Yucatan on the 30th. Opal then moved slowly westward into the Bay of Campeche, where it became a hurricane on October 2. A gradual north-northeastward turn started later on the 2nd, with acceleration on the 3rd and 4th. Opal continued to strengthen, and a period of rapid strengthening late of the 3rd and early on the 4th made it a Category 4 hurricane. Weakening followed, and Opal was a Category 3 hurricane when it made landfall near Pensacola Beach, Florida late on the 4th. Opal continued quickly north-northeastward and became extratropical over the Ohio Valley on the 5th. The cyclone was last seen over the eastern Great Lakes on October 6.

Hurlbert Field, Florida reported sustained winds of 84 mph with a peak gust of 144 mph, and gusts to 70 mph occurred as far inland as northwest Georgia. However, the main impact from Opal was from storm surge. A combination of storm surge and breaking waves inundated portions of the western Florida Panhandle coast to a depth of 10 to 20 ft. The surge was responsible for the bulk of the $3 billion in damage attributed to Opal in the United States.

Opal was responsible for 9 deaths in the United States, including 8 from falling trees and one from a tornado. Opal was responsible for 50 deaths in Mexico and Guatemala due to flooding caused by heavy rains.

Hurricane Mitch 1998
This powerful hurricane began developing over the southwestern Caribbean Sea on 22 October. It drifted westward and became a tropical storm later that day, then turned northward and became a hurricane by the 24th. Mitch then turned westward again and rapidly strengthened, becoming a Category 5 hurricane with a central pressure of 905 mb on the 26th. After passing over Swan Island on the 27th, a weakening Mitch moved slowly southward near the coastal Islands of Honduras. It made landfall over northern Honduras on the 29th as a Category 1 hurricane. Mitch gradually turned westward after landfall, and the surface center dissipated neat the Guatemala-Honduras border on 1 November.

The remnant circulation aloft reached the Bay of Campeche on 2 November and began developing again. The re-born Mitch became a tropical storm on 3 November, then moved northeastward across the Yucatan Peninsula on the 4th. Mitch crossed south Florida as a tropical storm on the 5th and then became extratropical later that day. The extratropical cyclone remained strong as it crossed the Atlantic, eventually affecting the British Isles and Iceland on the 9th and 10th.

Mitch ravaged the offshore islands of Honduras with high winds, seas, and storm surge. However the greatest impact was widespread heavy rains and severe floods in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Mitch caused an estimated 9,000 deaths in Central America with another 9,000 missing. Thirty-one people died when the schooner Fantome sank as it encountered the high winds and seas associated with the hurricane. Two people died in the Florida Keys when a fishing boat capsized. Mitch caused tremendous property, infrastructure, and crop damage in Central America, and an additional $40 million in damage in Florida.

Hurricane Floyd 1999
Floyd was first detected as a tropical wave that moved off the African coast on September 2. The system developed into a tropical depression over the tropical Atlantic on September 7. Moving steadily west-northwestward, the system became a tropical storm the next day and a hurricane on the 10th. A northwestward turn late on the 10th was followed by a westward turn on the 12th, with the second turn marking the time Floyd started strengthening in earnest. It became a Category 4 hurricane on September 13 as it approached the central Bahama Islands. A west-northwestward turn late on the 13th took the center through the northeastern Bahamas. This was followed by a gradual turn to the north-northeast, which brought the center to the North Carolina coast near Cape Fear on September 16 as a Category 2 hurricane. Floyd continued north-northeastward along the coast of the Mid-Atlantic into New England, where the storm became extratropical on the 17th. The remnants of Floyd merged with a large non-tropical low on September 19.

While wind gusts of 120 mph and storm surges of 9 to 10 ft were reported from the North Carolina coast, Floyd will be most remembered in the United States for its rainfall. The combination of Floyd and a frontal system over the eastern United States produced widespread rainfalls in excess of 10 inches from North Carolina northeastward, with amounts as high as 19.06 inches in Wilmington, North Carolina and 13.70 inches at Brewster, New York. These rains, aided by rains from Tropical Storm Dennis two weeks earlier, caused widespread severe flooding that caused the majority of the $3 to 6 billion in damage caused by Floyd. These floods also were responsible for 50 of the 56 deaths caused by Floyd in the United States. Floyd also caused damage in the Bahamas, with one death reported.

Information on rainfall and flooding from Floyd is available from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center.

More images of Floyd are available from NASA Goddard Laboratory website.

Hurricane Keith 2000
Keith began developing on 28 September when a tropical depression formed over the northwestern Caribbean Sea. The cyclone moved slowly northwestward on the 29th as it became a tropical storm, then it rapidly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane on the 30th while drifting westward toward the coast of Belize. Keith stalled with the eyewall over the offshore islands of Belize on 1 October, and it wasn't until the 3rd that the center made landfall in Belize. Keith weakened during this time and was a tropical storm at landfall. It moved west-northwestward over the Yucatan Peninsula and further weakened to a depression on the 4th.

Keith emerged in the Bay of Campeche late that day and quickly regained tropical storm strength. It again became a hurricane on the 5th before making landfall just north of Tampico, Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane. The cyclone dissipated over northeastern Mexico the next day.

Keith was responsible for 24 deaths - 12 in Nicaragua, 5 in Belize, 6 in Honduras, and 1 in Mexico. The deaths in Belize occurred when two catamarans broke loose during the storm, while 5 of the deaths in Honduras occurred when an airplane disappeared near Roatan Island. Damage to property, agriculture, and tourism in Belize was estimated at $225 million.

Tropical Storm Allison 2001
Allison's long and complex career began on 5 June as an area of disturbed weather over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico developed into a tropical storm. The storm made landfall near Freeport, Texas later that day. Allison weakened to a depression on the 6th, while drifting northward, then it made a slow loop over southeastern Texas from the 7th to the 9th. The cyclone moved into the Gulf of Mexico on the 10th and acquired subtropical characteristics. It then moved east-northeastward over southeastern Louisiana on the 11th, where it re-intensified into a subtropical storm. Allison weakened back to a subtropical depression on the 12th while continuing east-northeastward, and this motion carried it to southeastern North Carolina by the 14th where it again stalled. The cyclone drifted northward to northeastward drift over land on the 15th and 16th. This was followed by a faster northeastward motion on the 17th as the center emerged into the Atlantic. Allison regained subtropical storm strength later that day before becoming extratropical on the 18th southeast of Cape Cod. The system dissipated southeast of Nova Scotia the next day.

Allison brought tropical-storm-force winds and above normal tides to portions of the Texas and Louisiana coasts. However, the greatest legacy of the cyclone was the widespread heavy rains and resulting floods along the entire path of the cyclone (figure). Houston, Texas, was the worst affected area, as the Port of Houston reported 36.99 inches and several other locations reported more than 30 inches (figure). The storm also spawned 23 tornadoes. Allison was responsible for 41 deaths and at least $5 billion in damage in the United States, making it the deadliest and costliest U. S. tropical storm of record.


Hurricane Iris 2001
Iris first became a tropical depression just east of the lesser Antilles on 4 October. The depression tracked west-northwestward into the eastern Caribbean where it became a tropical storm on the 5th and a hurricane on the 6th. Iris then turned westward, passing just south of Jamaica on the 7th. The storm then moved quickly west-southwestward toward the coast of Belize as it became a small but powerful Category 4 hurricane on the 8th (figure). Iris made landfall over southern Belize early on the 9th at Category 4 intensity, then quickly weakened after landfall to dissipation later that day.

The winds and storm surges of Iris caused severe damage over portions of the southern Belize coast. The storm was responsible for 31 deaths, including 20 in Belize, 8 in Guatemala, and 3 in the Dominican Republic. The deaths in Belize occurred when the M/V Wave Dancer capsized in port, killing 20 of the 28 people on board.


Hurricane Isabel 2003
A well-organized but slow moving tropical wave that exited the African coastline on September 1st developed into Tropical Storm Isabel on the morning of September 6th. Isabel became a hurricane on September 7th and rapidly intensified to Category 4 hurricane strength on the evening of the 8th while the eye was located more than 1100 miles to the east of the Leeward Islands. This impressive hurricane reached Category 5 strength on September 11th, making Isabel the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic basin since Mitch in October 1998. The cyclone turned northwestward around the western periphery of the Atlantic ridge beginning on the 15th. Isabel began to weaken on the 15th as conditions aloft became more hostile, and it fell below major hurricane strength for the first time in eight days on the 16th.

Although weakening, Isabel’s wind field continued to expand as hurricane warnings were issued for most of the North Carolina and Virginia coastline, including the Chesapeake Bay. Isabel’s large eye pushed ashore just after the noon hour on September 18th near Drum Inlet along North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Isabel was the worst hurricane to affect the Chesapeake Bay region since 1933. Storm surge values of more than 8 feet flooded rivers that flowed into the Bay across Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. Isabel brought tropical storm force gusts as far north as New York State as it moved inland. The most intense hurricane of the 2003 season directly resulted in 17 deaths and more than 3 billion dollars* in damages. The large wind field toppled trees and cut power to more than four million customers.

Hurricane Charley 2004
Charley originated from a tropical wave, developing into a tropical depression on August 9 about 115 miles south-southeast of Barbados. The depression strengthened within a low-shear environment to a tropical storm early the next day in the eastern Caribbean, and became a hurricane on the 11th near Jamaica. Charley's center passed about 40 miles southwest of the southwest coast of Jamaica, and then passed about 15 miles northeast of Grand Cayman as the hurricane reached category 2 strength on the 12th. Charley turned to the north-northwest and continued to strengthen, making landfall in western Cuba as a category 3 hurricane with 120 m.p.h. maximum winds. Charley weakened just after its passage over western Cuba its maximum winds decreased to about 110 m.p.h. by the time the center reached the Dry Tortugas around 8 am on the 13th.

Charley then came under the influence of an unseasonably strong mid-tropospheric trough that had dropped from the east-central United States into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane turned north-northeastward and accelerated toward the southwest coast of Florida as it began to intensify rapidly dropsonde measurements indicate that Charley's central pressure fell from 964 mb to 941 mb in 4.5 hours. By 10 am, the maximum winds had increased to near 125 m.p.h., and three hours later had increased to 145 m.p.h. - category 4 strength. Charley made landfall with maximum winds near 150 m.p.h. on the southwest coast of Florida just north of Captiva Island around 3:45 pm. An hour later, Charley's eye passed over Punta Gorda. The hurricane then crossed central Florida, passing near Kissimmee and Orlando. Charley was still of hurricane intensity around midnight when its center cleared the northeast coast of Florida near Daytona Beach. After moving into the Atlantic, Charley came ashore again near Cape Romain, South Carolina near midday on the 14th as a category 1 hurricane. The center then moved just offshore before making a final landfall at North Myrtle Beach. Charley soon weakened to a tropical storm over southeastern North Carolina and became extratropical on the 15th as it moved back over water near Virginia Beach.

Although ferocious, Charley was a very small hurricane at its Florida landfall, with its maximum winds and storm surge located only about 6-7 miles from the center. This helped minimize the extent and amplitude of the storm surge, which likely did not exceed 7 feet. However, the hurricane's violent winds devastated Punta Gorda and neighboring Port Charlotte. Rainfall amounts were generally modest, less than 8 inches. Charley also produced 16 tornadoes in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. The total U. S. damage is estimated to be near $15 billion, making Charley the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Casualties were remarkably low, given the strength of the hurricane and the destruction that resulted. Charley was directly responsible for ten deaths in the United States. There were also four deaths in Cuba and one in Jamaica.

Hurricane Frances 2004
Frances developed from a tropical wave, becoming a tropical depression on August 25 several hundred miles west-southwest of the southern Cape Verde Islands, a tropical storm later that day, and a hurricane the following day. Frances moved generally west-northwestward for the next several days, passing north of the Leeward Islands on the 31st and just north of the Turks and Caicos Islands on the 2nd . During this time, Frances' peak winds reached 145 m.p.h. (category 4) on two occasions while the hurricane underwent a series of concentric eyewall cycles. Westerly wind shear then caused Frances to weaken to a category 2 hurricane by the time it passed over the northwestern Bahamas on the 4th . Frances made landfall near Stuart, Florida just after midnight on the 5th with 105 m.p.h. (category 2) maximum winds. Frances gradually weakened as it moved slowly across the Florida Peninsula, and became a tropical storm just before emerging into the northeastern Gulf of Mexico early on September 6. Frances made a final landfall in the Florida Big Bend region that afternoon as a tropical storm. Frances weakened over the southeastern United States and became extratropical over West Virginia on the 9th .

Frances produced a storm surge of nearly 6 feet at its Florida east coast landfall, and caused widespread heavy rains and associated freshwater flooding over much of the eastern United States, with a maximum reported rainfall of 18.07 inches at Linville Falls, North Carolina. Frances was also associated with an outbreak of over 100 tornadoes throughout the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states. Eight deaths resulted from the forces of the storm - seven in the United States and one in the Bahamas. U.S. damage is estimated to be near $8.9 billion, over 90% of which occurred in Florida.

Hurricane Ivan 2004
Ivan developed from a large tropical wave that crossed the west coast of Africa on August 31, and spawned a tropical depression two days later. The depression reached storm strength on September 3rd (one of only a dozen on record to do so south of 10EN) and continued to strengthen. By the 5th , Ivan had become a hurricane about 1150 miles east of the southern Windward Islands. Eighteen hours later Ivan became the southernmost storm to reach major hurricane status, at 10.2EN. Ivan was a category 3 hurricane when the center passed about 7 miles south of Grenada, a path that took the northern eyewall of Ivan directly over the island. In the Caribbean, Ivan became a category 5 hurricane, with winds of 160 m.p.h., on the 9th when it was south of the Dominican Republic, and on two occasions the minimum pressure fell to 910 mb. The center of Ivan passed within about 20 miles of Jamaica on the 11th and a similar distance from Grand Cayman on the 12th , with Grand Cayman likely experiencing sustained winds of category 4 strength. Ivan then turned to the northwest and passed through the Yucatan channel on the 14th , bringing hurricane conditions to extreme western Cuba. Ivan moved across the east-central Gulf of Mexico, making landfall as a major hurricane with sustained winds of near 120 m.p.h. on the 16th just west of Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Ivan weakened as it moved inland, producing over 100 tornadoes and heavy rains across much of the southeastern United States, before merging with a frontal system over the Delmarva Peninsula on the 18th. While this would normally be the end of the story, the extratropical remnant low of Ivan split off from the frontal system and drifted southward in the western Atlantic for several days, crossed southern Florida, and re-entered the Gulf of Mexico on the 21st. The low re-acquired tropical characteristics, becoming a tropical storm for the second time on the 22nd in the central Gulf. Ivan weakened before it made its final landfall in southwestern Louisiana as a tropical depression on the 24th.

Ivan's storm surge completely over-washed the island of Grand Cayman, where an estimated 95% of the buildings were damaged or destroyed. Surge heights of 10-15 feet occurred along the Gulf coast during Ivan's first U.S. landfall. Peak rainfall amounts in the Caribbean and United States were generally 10-15 inches. The death toll from Ivan stands at 92 - 39 in Grenada, 25 in the United States, 17 in Jamaica, 4 in Dominican Republic, 3 in Venezuela, 2 in the Cayman Islands, and 1 each in Tobago and Barbados. U.S. damage is estimated to be near $14.2 billion, the third largest total on record.

Hurricane Jeanne 2004
Jeanne formed from a tropical wave, becoming a tropical depression on September 13 near the Leeward Islands, and strengthening to a tropical storm the next day. Moving west-northwestward, Jeanne struck Puerto Rico on the 15th with 70 m.p.h. winds and then strengthened to a hurricane just before making landfall in the Dominican Republic. Jeanne spent nearly 36 hours over the rough terrain of Hispaniola, generating torrential rainfall before emerging into the Atlantic north of the island. Steering currents in the western Atlantic were weak, and Jeanne moved slowly through and north of the southeastern Bahamas over the next five days while it gradually regained the strength it had lost over Hispaniola. By the 23rd , high pressure had built in over the northeastern United States and western Atlantic, causing Jeanne to turn westward. Jeanne strengthened and became a major hurricane on the 25th while the center moved over Abaco and then Grand Bahama Island. Early on the 26th , the center of Jeanne's 60-mile-wide eye crossed the Florida coast near Stuart, at virtually the identical spot that Frances had come ashore three weeks earlier. Maximum winds at the time of landfall are estimated to be near 120 m.p.h.

Jeanne weakened as it moved across central Florida, becoming a tropical storm during the afternoon of the 26th near Tampa, and then weakening to a depression a day later over central Georgia. The depression was still accompanied by heavy rain when it moved over the Carolinas, Virginia, and the Delmarva Peninsula on the 28th and 29th before becoming extratropical.

Jeanne produced extreme rain accumulations in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, with nearly 24 inches reported in Vieques. Rains from the cyclone resulted in historic floods in Puerto Rico, and deadly flash-floods and mudslides in Haiti, where over 3000 people lost their lives and roughly 200,000 were left homeless. Three deaths occurred in Florida, and one each in Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Virginia. In the United States, damage is estimated to be near $6.9 billion.

Hurricane Dennis 2005
Dennis formed from a tropical wave that moved westward across the coast of Africa on June 29. A tropical depression developed from the wave on July 4 near the southern Windward Islands. The cyclone moved west-northwestward across the eastern and central Caribbean sea, became a tropical storm on July 5, and strengthened into a hurricane early on July 6 about 245 miles east-southeast of Jamaica. Dennis intensified over the next two days, becoming a major hurricane on July 7 and a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph the next day just south of central Cuba. Dennis passed over Cabo Cruz, Cuba early on July 8 with winds of 135 mph, and then made landfall along the south-central coast of Cuba that afternoon near Cienfuegos with winds of 145 mph. After landfall, Dennis passed near Havana and weakened to a Category 1 hurricane before emerging over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico early on July 9. Although Dennis re-intensified into a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 mph early on July 10 over the eastern Gulf of Mexico, it weakened to Category 3 strength before making landfall over the western Florida Panhandle near Navarre Beach late that day. Dennis degenerated to a low pressure area over the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys, and it was eventually absorbed by an extratropical low over southeastern Canada on July 18.

Dennis brought hurricane conditions to many portions of Cuba. Cabo Cruz reported sustained winds of 133 mph with a gust to 148 mph at 0200 UTC July 8, with a minimum pressure of 956 mb at 0240 UTC just before the eye passed over the station. The anemometer was destroyed, and it is possible more extreme winds occurred. Dennis also caused hurricane conditions in the western Florida Panhandle. An instrumented tower run by the Florida Coastal Monitoring Program (FCMP) at Navarre measured 1-min average winds (5-m elevation) of 99 mph and a gust to 121 mph at 1921 UTC July 10.

Storm-total rainfalls in excess of 23 inches occurred on both Cuba and Jamaica. Heavy rainfall also occurred over much of Florida and extended well inland over portions of the southeastern United States with the maximum amount of 12.80 inches near Camden, Alabama. Ten tornadoes were reported in association with Dennis in the United States.

Dennis caused 42 deaths - 22 in Haiti, 16 in Cuba, 3 in the United States, and 1 in Jamaica. The hurricane caused considerable damage across central and eastern Cuba as well as the western Florida Panhandle, including widespread utility and communications outages. Considerable storm surge-related damage also occurred near St. Marks, Florida, well to the east of the landfall location. The damage associated with Dennis in the United States is estimated at $2.23 billion. Damage in Jamaica is estimated at 1.9 billion Jamaican dollars* (approximately $31.7 million U. S.).

The National Hurricane Center also maintains the official Tropical Cyclone Report for Hurricane Dennis (PDF).

Hurricane Katrina 2005
Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes in the history of the United States. It is the deadliest hurricane to strike the United States since the Palm Beach-Lake Okeechobee hurricane of September 1928. It produced catastrophic damage - estimated at $75 billion in the New Orleans area and along the Mississippi coast - and is the costliest U. S. hurricane on record.

This horrific tropical cyclone formed from the combination of a tropical wave, an upper-level trough, and the mid-level remnants of Tropical Depression Ten. A tropical depression formed on August 23 about 200 miles southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas. Moving northwestward, it became Tropical Storm Katrina during the following day about 75 miles east-southeast of Nassau. The storm moved through the northwestern Bahamas on August 24-25, and then turned westward toward southern Florida. Katrina became a hurricane just before making landfall near the Miami-Dade/Broward county line during the evening of August 25. The hurricane moved southwestward across southern Florida into the eastern Gulf of Mexico on August 26. Katrina then strengthened significantly, reaching Category 5 intensity on August 28. Later that day, maximum sustained winds reached 175 mph with an aircraft-measured central pressure of 902 mb while centered about 195 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Katrina turned to the northwest and then north, with the center making landfall near Buras, Louisiana at 1110 UTC August 29 with maximum winds estimated at 125 mph (Category 3). Continuing northward, the hurricane made a second landfall near the Louisiana/Mississippi border at 1445 UTC with maximum winds estimated at 120 mph (Category 3). Weakening occurred as Katrina moved north-northeastward over land, but it was still a hurricane near Laurel, Mississippi. The cyclone weakened to a tropical depression over the Tennessee Valley on 30 August. Katrina became an extratropical low on August 31 and was absorbed by a frontal zone later that day over the eastern Great Lakes.

Katrina brought hurricane conditions to southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, and southwestern Alabama. The Coastal Marine Automated Network (C-MAN) station at Grand Isle, Louisiana reported 10-minute average winds of 87 mph at 0820 UTC August 29 with a gust to 114 mph. Higher winds likely occurred there and elsewhere, as many stations were destroyed, lost power, or lost communications during the storm. Storm surge flooding of 25 to 28 feet above normal tide level occurred along portions of the Mississippi coast, with storm surge flooding of 10 to 20 feet above normal tide levels along the southeastern Louisiana coast. Hurricane conditions also occurred over southern Florida and the Dry Tortugas. The National Hurricane Center reported sustained winds of 69 mph at 0115 UTC August 26 with a gust to 87 mph. Additionally, tropical storm conditions occurred along the northern Gulf coast as far east as the coast of the western Florida Panhandle, as well as in the Florida Keys. Katrina caused 10 to 14 inches of rain over southern Florida, and 8 to 12 inches of rain along its track inland from the northern Gulf coast. Thirty-three tornadoes were reported from the storm.

Katrina is responsible for approximately 1200 reported deaths, including about 1000 in Louisiana and 200 in Mississippi. Seven additional deaths occurred in southern Florida. Katrina caused catastrophic damage in southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Storm surge along the Mississippi coast caused total destruction of many structures, with the surge damage extending several miles inland. Similar damage occurred in portions of southeastern Louisiana southeast of New Orleans. The surge overtopped and breached levees in the New Orleans metropolitan area, resulting in the inundation of much of the city and its eastern suburbs. Wind damage from Katrina extended well inland into northern Mississippi and Alabama. The hurricane also caused wind and water damage in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The National Hurricane Center also maintains the official Tropical Cyclone Report for Hurricane Katrina (PDF).

Hurricane Rita 2005
Rita, the third Category 5 hurricane of the season, was a destructive and deadly hurricane that devastated portions of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana and significantly impacted the Florida Keys.

A tropical wave and the remnants of an old front combined to produce and area of disturbed weather on 16 September. This system became a depression just east of the Turks and Caicos Islands late on 17 September, which moved westward and became a tropical storm the following afternoon. Maximum winds increased to 70 mph as Rita moved through the central Bahamas on September 19. While the storm did not strengthen during the following night, rapid intensification began on September 20 as it moved through the Straits of Florida. Rita became a hurricane that day and reached Category 2 intensity as the center passed about 50 miles south of Key West, Florida.

After entering the Gulf of Mexico, Rita intensified from Category 2 to Category 5 in about 24 hours. The maximum sustained winds reached 165 mph late on September 21, and the hurricane reached a peak intensity of 180 mph early on September 22. Weakening began later that day and continued until landfall around 0740 UTC 24 September just east of the Texas/Louisiana border between Sabine Pass and Johnson's Bayou. At that time, maximum sustained winds were 115 mph (Category 3). Weakening continued after landfall, but Rita remained a tropical storm until reaching northwestern Louisiana late on 24 September. The cyclone then turned northeastward and merged with a frontal system two days later. Rita brought hurricane conditions to southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas. A FCMP instrumented tower at Port Arthur reported 1-min average winds of 94 mph at 0826 UTC September 24 along with a gust of 116 mph. The C-MAN station at Sea Rim State Park, Texas reported 2-minute average winds of 82 mph at 0700 UTC September 24, along with a peak gust of 99 mph. The hurricane caused storm-surge flooding of 10 to 15 ft above normal tide levels along the southwestern coast of Louisiana, caused a notable surge on the inland Lake Livingston, Texas, and inundated portions of the New Orleans area previously flooded by Katrina. Tropical storm conditions occurred in the Florida Keys, where the C-MAN station at Sand Key reported 10-minute average winds of 72 mph at 2110 UTC September 20 with a gust to 92 mph. The station failed shortly thereafter. Storm surge flooding of up to 5 feet above normal tide levels occurred in the Keys.

Rita produced rainfalls of 5 to 9 inches over large portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and eastern Texas, with isolated amounts of 10 to 15 inches. The cyclone spawned an estimated 90 tornadoes over the southern United States.

Devastating storm surge flooding and wind damage in occurred southwestern Louisiana and extreme southeastern Texas, with some surge damage occurring in the Florida Keys. Rita was responsible for seven deaths, and it caused damage estimated at $10 billion in the United States.

The National Hurricane Center also maintains the official Tropical Cyclone Report for Hurricane Rita (PDF).

Hurricane Wilma 2005
The massive and powerful Wilma formed from a broad area of disturbed weather that stretched across much of the Caribbean Sea during the second week of October. A surface low pressure system gradually became defined near Jamaica on October 14, leading to the formation of a tropical depression on October 15 about 220 miles east-southeast of Grand Cayman. The cyclone moved erratically westward and southward for two days while slowly strengthening into a tropical storm. Wilma became a hurricane and began a west-northwestward motion on October 18. Later that day, Wilma began to explosively deepen. The aircraft-measured minimum central pressure reached 882 mb near 0800 UTC October 19. This pressure was accompanied by a 2-4 mile wide eye. Wilma's maximum intensity is estimated to have been 185 mph a few hours after the 882 mb pressure. On October 20, Wilma weakened slightly and turned northwestward toward the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula. Late on October 21, the slow-moving hurricane made landfall over Cozumel, followed by landfall early the next day over the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula - both at Category 4 intensity. Wilma moved slowly and weakened over northeastern Yucatan, emerging over the Gulf of Mexico early on October 23 as a Category 2 hurricane. Later that day it accelerated northeastward toward southern Florida. The hurricane strengthened over the Gulf waters, and its center made landfall near Cape Romano around 1030 UTC October 24 as a Category 3 hurricane. The eye crossed the Florida Peninsula in less than five hours, moving into the Atlantic just north of Palm Beach as a Category 2 hurricane. Wilma briefly re-intensified just east of Florida, then weakened thereafter. The hurricane moved rapidly northeastward over the western Atlantic and became extratropical about 230 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia late on October 25. The remnants of Wilma were absorbed by another low late the next day.

Wilma brought hurricane conditions to the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula and the adjacent islands, as well as to southern Florida. In Mexico, Cancun reported 10-minute average winds of 100 mph with a gust to 130 mph at 0000 UTC October 22, while Cozumel reported a pressure of 928.0 mb late on October 21. The Isla Mujeres reported 62.05 inches of rain during the hurricane's passage. In Florida, a South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) station in Lake Okeechobee reported 15-minute average winds of 92 mph with a gust to 112 mph at 1500 UTC October 24, while a nearby SFWMD station in Belle Glade reported a gust to 117 mph. Ten tornadoes occurred in Florida due to Wilma.

Twenty-two deaths have been directly attributed to Wilma: 12 in Haiti, 1 in Jamaica, 4 in Mexico, and 5 in Florida. The hurricane caused severe damage in northeastern Yucatan, including Cancun and Cozumel, and widespread damage estimated at $16.8 billion in southern Florida. Wilma also produced major floods in western Cuba.

The 882 mb pressure reported in Wilma is the lowest central pressure on record in an Atlantic hurricane, breaking the old record of 888 mb set by Hurricane Gilbert in September 1988. The central pressure fell 88 mb in 12 hours, which shatters the record of 48 mb in 12 hours held by Hurricane Allen in August 1980.

The National Hurricane Center also maintains the official Tropical Cyclone Report for Hurricane Wilma (PDF).

Hurricane Ike 2008

Ike was a long-lived and major Cape Verde hurricane that caused extensive damage and many deaths across portions of the Caribbean and along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. It originated from a well-defined tropical wave that moved off the west coast of Africa on August 28 and then became a tropical depression on September 1 about 775 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. The depression quickly strengthened to a tropical storm later that day. Ike became a hurricane on September 3, and Ike reached an estimated peak intensity of 145 mph (Category 4) on September 4 when it was located 550 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands. After weakening briefly, Ike regained Category 4 status just before moving across the Turks and Caicos Islands on September 7. Ike then passed over Great Inagua Island in the southeastern Bahamas at Category 3 strength.

Ike turned westward and made landfall along the northeast coast of Cuba in the province of Holguin early on September 8 with maximum sustained winds estimated near 135 mph (Category 4). Ike made a second landfall in Cuba over the extreme southeastern part of the province of Pinar del Rio on September 9, with winds of 80 mph (Category 1). It moved into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico later that day.

Ike developed a large wind field as it moved northwestward across the Gulf of Mexico over the next 3 days, with tropical-storm-force winds extending up to 275 miles from the center and hurricane-force winds extending up to 115 miles from the center. The hurricane gradually intensified as it moved across the Gulf toward the Texas coast. Ike made landfall over the north end of Galveston Island in the early morning hours of September 13 as a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph. The hurricane weakened as it moved inland across eastern Texas and Arkansas and became extratropical over the middle Mississippi Valley on September 14. It then moved rapidly through the Ohio valley and into Canada, producing wind gusts to hurricane force along the way.

Grand Turk Island reported sustained winds of 116 mph as the center of Ike crossed the island. Storm surges of 15-20 feet above normal tide levels occurred along the Bolivar Peninsula of Texas and in much of the Galveston Bay area, with surges of up to 10 feet above normal occurring as far east as south central Louisiana. Storm total rainfalls from Ike were as much as 19 inches in southeastern Texas and 14 inches in Cuba.

Ike left a long trail of death and destruction. It is estimated that flooding and mud slides killed 74 people in Haiti and 2 in the Dominican Republic, compounding the problems caused by Fay, Gustav, and Hanna. The Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas sustained widespread damage to property. Seven deaths were reported in Cuba. Ike's storm surge devastated the Bolivar Peninsula of Texas, and surge, winds, and flooding from heavy rains caused widespread damage in other portions of southeastern Texas, western Louisiana, and Arkansas. Twenty people were killed in these areas, with 34 others still missing. Property damage from Ike as a hurricane is estimated at $19.3 billion. Additionally, as an extratropical system over the Ohio valley, Ike was directly or indirectly responsible for 28 deaths and more than $1 billion in property damage.

The National Hurricane Center also maintains the official Tropical Cyclone Report for Hurricane Ike (PDF).


HISTORY, Aug. 29: Hurricane Katrina slams Gulf Coast in 2005

Today is Wednesday, Aug. 29, the 241st day of 2018. There are 124 days left in the year.

On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast near Buras, Louisiana, bringing floods that devastated New Orleans. More than 1,800 people in the region died.

In 1862, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing began operations at the United States Treasury.

In 1864, the Democratic National Convention, which nominated Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan for president, opened in Chicago.

In 1877, the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Brigham Young, died in Salt Lake City, Utah, at age 76.

In 1910, Korean Emperor Sunjong abdicated as the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty went into effect.

In 1944, 15,000 American troops of the 28th Infantry Division marched down the Champs Elysees in Paris as the French capital continued to celebrate its liberation from the Nazis.

In 1957, the Senate gave final congressional approval to a Civil Rights Act after South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond (then a Democrat) ended a filibuster that had lasted 24 hours.

In 1958, pop superstar Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana.

In 1962, Malvin R. Goode began covering the United Nations for ABC-TV, becoming network television's first black reporter.

In 1964, Roy Orbison's single "Oh, Pretty Woman" was released on the Monument label.

In 1965, Gemini 5, carrying astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles "Pete" Conrad, splashed down in the Atlantic after 8 days in space.

In 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain picked Sarah Palin, a maverick conservative who had been governor of Alaska for less than two years, to be his running mate.

Birthdays: Actress Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou on "The Andy Griffith Show") is 92. Director William Friedkin is 83. Actor Elliott Gould is 80. Director Joel Schumacher is 79. Actress Rebecca DeMornay is 59. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is 51. Singer Me'Shell NdegeOcello is 50. Actress Charlotte Ritchie is 29. Actress Nicole Gale Anderson is 28. Rock singer Liam Payne (One Direction) is 25.

Thought for Today: "People are very open-minded about new things — as long as they're exactly like the old ones." -- Charles F. Kettering, American inventor (1876-1958).


Katrina Slams Gulf Coast Economy

The impact from Katrina to the economies of Louisiana and Mississippi is likely to be severe. The main industries of tourism, casinos, fishing and energy have all been temporarily crippled by the storm. Both states have high rates of poverty and unemployment and the hurricane's impact could make matters considerably worse. John Ydstie reports.

Hurricane Katrina has delivered a punishing blow to the economy of the Gulf Coast. Virtually every industry from tourism to oil and gas production has been paralyzed. As NPR's John Ydstie reports, businesses are struggling to assess the damage to their facilities and figure out how they'll get up and running.

Casinos are among the major tourist attractions and largest employers along the Gulf Coast. Harrah's, one of the biggest gaming companies in the world, has 8,000 workers in three facilities there, but they're not likely to be returning to their jobs any time soon. Gary Loveman, the company's CEO, says two of its casinos floating on barges in Gulfport and Biloxi were largely destroyed.

Mr. GARY LOVEMAN (CEO, Harrah's): In one case, the barge was lifted off its moorings and taken across on to the street, dropped. That one I'm sure is a total loss. The other one I think is close to a total loss, although it didn't move as far as the former one.

YDSTIE: A third land-based casino in New Orleans was relatively unscathed, but it's unlikely to open soon because of the disastrous conditions in the city as a whole. Loveman is confident, though, that the region will rebound. To ease the blow on workers, Harrah's says it will pay their salaries for at least the next 90 days.

Shipbuilding is another major employer in the region. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Pascagoula, Mississippi, shipyard has 12,000 workers. It suffered significant flooding damage according to the company's communications director, Brian Cullin. But he believes the company could resume production within a matter of weeks depending on one thing--electricity.

Mr. BRIAN CULLIN (Communications Director, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems): For our yards, power is obviously a very huge element to our operations. And right now, power on the coast is very challenging to say the least, so we need power. And as soon as we get power, that will help open the door to operations.

YDSTIE: While damage assessments are still coming in, another industry likely to recover relatively quickly, according to economists, is the oil and gas industry. It has lots of resources and experience at handling the effects of severe weather. But for many other industries, the rebound could be much slower. One regional economist suggests more than half a million of the region's workers could be unemployed for months to come. Given the record of slow recovery after Hurricane Camille in 1969, Louisiana State University economist Jim Richardson is particularly worried about the city of New Orleans.

Mr. JIM RICHARDSON (Economist, Louisiana State University): There was a study on Camille which suggested that it took maybe as much as almost five to six years for that area to get back to what you might call normalcy. You can't get New Orleans back up to normalcy in 30 days. It may be six months, it may be a year. However, I think the thing to note is that it will get back there.

YDSTIE: Economist Mark Zandi of Economy.com says the damage to infrastructure will pose a huge a challenge to recovery in the region this time.

Mr. MARK ZANDI (Economy.com): We're talking about roads and bridges, the water system, of course, electricity. So that also is going to delay and impede any rebuilding efforts that are going to place. So I do fear that the economic fallout from Katrina on this region's economy is going to be very severe. And it's shaping up to be the case that when it's all said and done, this probably will end up being the most costly natural disaster in our history.

YDSTIE: Often insurance payments and government aid after a disaster boost a region's economy beyond its previous levels. That happened in Florida last year, but Zandi says that's not likely to be the case this time. He says even though insurance claims could exceed $20 billion, they won't cover all the losses. That's partly because the low income levels in the region mean many people couldn't afford to buy insurance.

John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington.

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Hurricane Katrina slams into Gulf Coast

Tens of thousands of people sought shelter in the New Orleans Convention Center and the Louisiana Superdome. The situation in both places quickly deteriorated, as food and water ran low and conditions became unsanitary. Frustration mounted as it took up to two days for a full-scale relief effort to begin. In the meantime, the stranded residents suffered from heat, hunger, and a lack of medical care. Reports of looting, rape, and even murder began to surface. As news networks broadcast scenes from the devastated city to the world, it became obvious that a vast majority of the victims were African-American and poor, leading to difficult questions among the public about the state of racial equality in the United States. The federal government and President George W. Bush were roundly criticized for what was perceived as their slow response to the disaster. The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael Brown, resigned amid the ensuing controversy.

Finally, on September 1, the tens of thousands of people staying in the damaged Superdome and Convention Center begin to be moved to the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, and another mandatory evacuation order was issued for the city. The next day, military convoys arrived with supplies and the National Guard was brought in to bring a halt to lawlessness. Efforts began to collect and identify corpses. On September 6, eight days after the hurricane, the Army Corps of Engineers finally completed temporary repairs to the three major holes in New Orleans’ levee system and were able to begin pumping water out of the city.

In all, it is believed that the hurricane caused more than 1,300 deaths and up to $150 billion in damages to both private property and public infrastructure. It is estimated that only about $40 billion of that number will be covered by insurance. One million people were displaced by the disaster, a phenomenon unseen in the United States since the Great Depression. Four hundred thousand people lost their jobs as a result of the disaster. Offers of international aid poured in from around the world, even from poor countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Private donations from U.S. citizens alone approached $600 million.

The storm also set off 36 tornadoes in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, resulting in one death.

President Bush declared September 16 a national day of remembrance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.


Watch the video: Gruppe 9 Orkanen Katrina