About Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina was a long-lived hurricane that made landfall three times along the United States coast and reached Category 5 at its peak intensity. The storm initially developed as a tropical depression in the southeastern Bahamas on August 23, 2005. Two days later, it strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane a few hours before making its first landfall between Hallandale Beach and North Miami Beach, Florida. After crossing the tip of the Florida peninsula, Katrina followed a westward track across the Gulf of Mexico before turning to the northwest toward the Gulf Coast.
Hurricane Katrina made its second landfall as a strong Category 4 hurricane in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, on August 29, 2005. Wind speeds of over 140 miles per hour (mph) were recorded in southeastern Louisiana and winds gusted to over 100 mph in New Orleans, just west of the eye. As Katrina made its third and final landfall four hours later along the Mississippi/Louisiana border, wind speeds were approximately 125 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 190 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended for approximately 440 miles.
The strength and extent of Hurricane Katrina’s wind field resulted in a storm surge greater than historical maximums. The combination of a storm surge of up to 30 feet, wave action, and high winds resulted in destruction of buildings and roads in the affected areas. In addition, failure of earthen levees and floodwalls after the storm passed left portions of New Orleans under 20 feet of water. The total number of lives lost, number of injuries sustained, and value of property damaged as a result of Hurricane Katrina are still being tabulated.
Sources: Information compiled from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Tropical Prediction Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov), FEMA news releases, and press reports.
NOAA image of Hurricane Katrina tracking map: