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This is the story of Hurricane Katrina and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in text only. It includes
text by date, and the similarities and differences between Hurricanes Katrina and Camille.
Hurricane Katrina & The Gulf Coast

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THE STORY OF HURRICANE KATRINA - TEXT

THE TRACK OF KATRINA & RADAR & SATELLITE

DESTRUCTION OF POST 119 BY KATRINA

THE GULFPORT VA CENTER AFTER KATRINA

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DIRECTORY OF HURRICANE KATRINA LINKS



NOTE The National Hurricane Center’s Final Report on Hurricane Katrina has not yet been published.
When published, the National Hurricane Center’s Final Report will be available on this website.


Preface
     Although all of the National Hurricane Center’s report deals with the impact of Hurricane Katrina on all of the States impacted by the storm,
this "Story of Hurricane Katrina and the Mississippi Gulf Coast" is expanded to include the effects specifically on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
     It also includes comments by Robert Dougherty, a Member of the American Legion Post in Gulfport Mississippi, who remained in his home during both Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005 and Hurricane Camille in August of 1969. His comments of what happened during both storms represents only what happened to him, his family, his home and property, and those of his immediate neighbors. However, it generally represents what happened to others, their families, their homes and property, and those of their immediate neighbors...and nearly everyone along the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast. His comments are interwoven into the following paragraphs and are not identified as his alone. Because of the Country represented by most of our viewers, Knots have been changed to Miles Per Hour, Meters have been converted to Feet, and Millibars to Inches Of Mercury.
   A note about water: It must be understood that water weights about 60 pounds per cubic foot and has unusually low compressibility like steel. Imagine a nearly solid wall of water 30 feet deep and 1,000 feet wide traveling at 20 miles to 30 per hour. At 60 pounds per cubic foot, that would be many tons of fast moving water. Fast moving water can easily go around the sharp corners of a building, but it "slams" straight into the flat walls of any structure causing total, or near total destruction. Fast moving water can also go around the circular trunk of a tree. Although small trees may not be able to withstand the force of fast moving water, larger and stronger trees can. That's why almost all of the larger trees on the Mississippi Gulf Coast remained standing after Hurricane Camille in August of 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005.

Edited from the National Hurricane Center’s Report of 20 December 2005
Loss of Life
     Katrina was an extraordinarily powerful and deadly Hurricane which carved a wide swath of catastrophic damage and inflicted a large loss of life. It was the costliest, and one of the five deadliest Hurricanes to ever strike the United States. Katrina first caused fatalities and damage in southern Florida as a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. After reaching Category 5 intensity over the Central Gulf of Mexico, Katrina weakened to Category 3 before making landfall on the northern Gulf coast. Even so, the damage and loss of life inflicted by this massive Hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi was staggering, with significant effects extending into the Florida panhandle, Georgia, and Alabama. Considering the scope of its impacts, Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in United States history.
Fatalities
     Katrina was a large and intense hurricane that struck a portion of the United States coastline along the northern Gulf of Mexico that is particularly vulnerable to storm surge, leading to loss of life and property damage of immense proportions. The scope of human suffering inflicted by Hurricane Katrina in the United States has been greater than that of any hurricane to strike this country in several generations. The total number of fatalities known, as of this writing, to be either directly or indirectly related to Katrina is 1,123, based on reports to date from State and local officials in five States: 1,077 fatalities in Louisiana, 228 in Mississippi, 14 in Florida, 2 in Georgia, and 2 in Alabama. Especially for Louisiana and Mississippi, the number of direct fatalities is highly uncertain and the true number might not ever be known. This uncertainty exists because complete statistics on causes of death are only available from some areas. Remains are still being found, and many of those found have not yet been identified, and the causes of many deaths remain under investigation. More than 4,000 persons are still reported missing, so it is possible the death toll could grow beyond current estimates. Presumably, most of the deaths in Louisiana were directly caused by the widespread storm surge-induced flooding and its miserable aftermath in the New Orleans area. However, several indirect fatalities in Louisiana have been confirmed or are suspected, and some deaths included in the total appear to not be related to Katrina at all. Louisiana also reports that persons of more than 60 years of age constituted the majority of the Katrina-related fatalities among its residents. The vast majority of the fatalities in Mississippi probably were directly caused by the storm surge in the three coastal counties. In Florida, three of the direct fatalities were caused by downed trees in Broward County, and the three others were due to drowning in Miami-Dade County. Two deaths were also reported in Georgia, with one directly caused by a tornado and the other occurring in a car accident indirectly related to the storm. Alabama reported two indirect fatalities in a car accident during the storm. Periodically, reports of the total number of fatalities continue to rise.
     Despite the fact that inland fresh water floods produced the majority of fatalities due to tropical cyclones during the past few decades, Katrina provides a grim reminder that storm surge poses the greatest potential cause for large loss of life in a single Hurricane in the United States. The actual number of fatalities may never be know, because of the possibilities of victims being washed out to sea, or permanently buried under sand, dirt and mud, or debris. Where Katrina ranks among the deadliest Hurricanes on record in the United States is somewhat uncertain, due to the unknown number of fatalities caused directly by this Hurricane and by some others in the past. Katrina is surpassed by the Galveston Texas hurricane in 1900 that claimed at least 8,000 lives, and it appears to be surpassed by the 1928 Lake Okeechobee Florida Hurricane with over 2,500 fatalities. If the assumption is correct that most of the Katrina related fatalities were caused directly by the storm, then Katrina ranks as the third deadliest Hurricane in the United States since 1900, and the deadliest in 77 years. However, two Hurricanes in 1893 might each have been directly responsible for more fatalities in the United States than Katrina. One of these struck the southeastern Louisiana barrier island of Cheniere Caminanda and killed about 2,000 people, while another struck Georgia and South Carolina and claimed somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 lives. As a result, Katrina ranks fourth or fifth on the list of the deadliest Hurricanes on record in the United States.
Update: The number of deaths caused by Hurricane Katrina has risen to 1,836.
Alabama 2, Florida 14, Georgia 2, Kentucky 1, Louisiana 1,577, Mississippi 238 with 67 missing, Ohio 2, Additional Missing 705. Source
Damage
     Katrina was a deadly Hurricane which carved a wide swath of catastrophic damage and inflicted a large loss of life. It was the costliest, and one of the five deadliest Hurricanes to ever strike the United States. Katrina first caused fatalities and damage in southern Florida as a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. After reaching Category 5 intensity over the Central Gulf of Mexico, Katrina weakened to Category 3 before making landfall on the northern Gulf coast. Even so, the damage and loss of life inflicted by this massive Hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi was staggering, with significant effects extending into the Florida panhandle, Georgia, and Alabama. Considering the scope of its impacts, Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in United States history.
     The extent, magnitude, and impacts of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina are staggering and are well beyond the scope of this report to fully describe. Thousands of homes and businesses throughout entire neighborhoods in the New Orleans metropolitan area were destroyed by flood. Strong winds also caused damage in the New Orleans area, including downtown where windows in some high rise buildings were blown out and the roof of the Louisiana Superdome was partially peeled away. The storm surge of Katrina struck the Mississippi coastline with such ferocity that entire coastal communities were obliterated, some left with little more than the foundations upon which homes, businesses, government facilities, and other historical buildings once stood. Despite being more distant from the eye of Hurricane Katrina, the storm surge over Dauphin Island, Alabama destroyed or damaged dozens of beachfront homes and cut a new canal through the island’s western end. Many of the most severely impacted areas along the northern Gulf Coast could take years to completely rebuild. Katrina’s heavy rains in southern Florida flooded some neighborhoods, primarily in Miami-Dade County. Many other structures from Florida and Georgia westward to Louisiana that avoided surge or fresh water floods, including some areas well inland, were damaged by strong winds and tornadoes. Considerable damage to some homes and agricultural facilities was caused by several tornadoes in Georgia. Strong winds caused significant tree damage throughout much of Mississippi and Alabama.
Utilities
Electricity: Combining all of the areas it impacted, Hurricane Katrina left about three million people without electricity for lights, air conditioning, appliances, television and radio. The Mississippi Power Company set a goal of 9/11 as the date for complete restoration of electrical power to their customers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast...and they made their goal by September 11th 2006.
Update: All or most of the Electric Power is back to normal.
Water: Water, for washing, cleaning, moping, sponging, and using hoses to get rid of large quantities of black muddy salt water, was not available as soon as water in the high water tanks were emptied. Absolutely no water, other than bottled water, was safe to drink.
Update: All or most of the water is safe to drink and back to normal.
Sewage: Sewage collection for flushed toilets, drained bathtubs and sinks, eta., was not available. Electric power to run the sewage lift pumps could no longer be provided.
Update: All or most of the sewage collection is back to normal.
Natural Gas: Natural gas, for cooking was not available. Also, natural gas necessary for heating during the upcoming Winter months was not available.
Update: All or most of Natural Gas delivery is back to normal.
Radio and Television

Radio: Due to the loss of electric power for broadcasting, all local Radio & Television Stations were off the air during, and for some time after Hurricane Katrina. Only one Radio Station, "The Gospel Giant" a family owned Christian Broadcasting Station in Jackson County Mississippi remained on the air before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. Within a week, operating with emergency power, several local AM and FM Radio Stations sharing frequencies, were broadcasting for a limited number of hours every day.
Update: All local Radio Stations are back on the air and have resumed their normal broadcasting schedules.

Television: Due to the loss of electric power for broadcasting, South Mississippi's WLOX-TV went off the air while broadcasting during landfall of Hurricane Katrina. Soon after the local Radio Stations were back on the air, WLOX-TV was back on the air with limited broadcasting schedule. Update: WLOX-TV has resumed their normal daytime and nightie broadcasting schedule.

Telephones and Cell Phones

Telephones: Nearly all telephone service on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was impossible due to the loss of electrical power, downed telephone poles, or telephone lines broken by fallen trees.
Update: All telephone service has been restored to homes in a condition to receive telephone service.

Cell Phones: Cell phone service was interrupted due to the loss of electrical power and/or the loss of Cell Phone towers and/or bent or twisted antennas on the towers.
Update: All Cell Phone service has been restored to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Gasoline & Propane Gas
Gasoline: Gasoline was in very short supply, since there was no electricity to provide power to the pumps, and Gasoline tank trucks could not travel due to fallen trees on highways and roads, and destroyed bridges. Gasoline service stations, which had any gasoline and could pump it, had with long lines of cars waiting, were soon out of gasoline.
Update: All of the Service Stations are back to normal.
Propane Gas: Propane Gas, required for heating during the upcoming Winter months was also in short supply. Gasoline Stations, which sold the product, were all totally destroyed or damaged so badly they were unable to open. Also, Propane tank trucks could not travel due to fallen trees on highways and/or roadways...and destroyed bridges.
Update: All of the Propane Gas suppliers are back to normal.
Supplies by Railroad
Railroad: All of the railroad rails and bridges were damaged and/or destroyed all along the Gulf Coast...preventing the shipment of very large quantities of the much needed food, petroleum, chemicals, heavy trucks, bulldozers, fork lifts, and other clean-up supplies too numerous to mention. Update: All local rail beds, tracks, and track ties have been replaced, or rebuilt. All railroad service has been restored.
Supplies by Air
Airports: All local airports were shut down due to severe damage or lack of electricity for their control towers, runways, and buildings. No commercial flights, inbound or outbound, could take place. All local aircraft hangers were closed, and no private flying was permitted. Helicopters: Several days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Military Helicopters could be seen and heard flying inbound and outbound all over the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Folks used to complain about the noise created by low flying helicopters, but now the sound became "Music to Their Ears."
    The helicopters, both large and small, provided transportation, not only for Military personnel, but also for National, State, and Local officials who could make an aerial survey of the damage, and begin forming plans for immediate and long term recovery. The helicopters were also used by local companies to provide transportation for their executives so that they could begin doing the same as the above personnel. Helicopters also provided a means for National Television Networks to provide pictures of what had really happened on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
     But for the most part, helicopters delivered personnel, vehicles, electric generators, power tools, tents, fuel, food, water, and everything necessary to provide armed Military security, roadblocks, and to begin clearing local access roads to the airports.
Update: All local airports are now open and are back to their normal commercial flight schedules. All access roads, parking lots, ticket counters, luggage checking, and boarding ramps are back to normal. All private aircraft flying, inbound and outbound is also back to normal.

Medical, Food, Security and Fire Services

     Because they were "pre-positioned" prior to the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, the American Red Cross and the Mississippi National Guard arrived on the Gulf Coast within two days after Katrina while thunderstorms and high winds still prevailed. The Red Cross provided immediate medical care, transportation to medical services and Hospitals, Tetanus, Typhoid and other shots, and later..."Meals On Wheels" with hot food, distilled water, soft drinks, and clean-up supplies consisting of paper towels and toilet paper, mops, brooms, buckets, much needed heavy long gloves...and other items too numerous to mention here.
     The Mississippi National Guard provided motorized and foot Armed Security which patrolled all neighborhoods day and night. They also handed out, in any quantity requested, "Meals Ready To Eat" (MRE's). All that was necessary to eat a hot meal was...follow the directions on the packets, add a little water, and within about 10 to 15 minutes very tasty hot meals were ready to eat.
     Local Police and Sheriffs Departments also provided motorized and foot armed security which patrolled all neighborhoods day and night. Their response was not immediate, due to the destruction of many patrol cars, the blocking of roads and highways by debris and fallen telephone poles and trees, and the destruction of bridges preventing their access to cities and towns within their jurisdictions.
Update: Local Police and Sheriffs Departments have resumed their normal duties and patrols.
Update: Local Fire Departments have restored their normal service, although some are operating out of temporary locations.
Update: The American Red Cross has nearly completed all of it's service on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Update: The National Guard no longer patrols highways, streets, and neighborhoods.

Grocery & Other Stores

    Due to the destruction or severe damage to the stores, and/or the lack of electricity, most stores did not open for several weeks to a month after Hurricane Katrina.
Update: All, or most stores of all kinds, are open during regular hours for business.

Economic & Environmental

     The economic and environmental ramifications of Hurricane Katrina have been widespread and could in some respects be long-lasting, due to impacts on large population and tourism centers, the oil and gas industry, and transportation. The Hurricane severely impacted or destroyed workplaces in New Orleans and other heavily populated areas of the northern Gulf Coast, resulting in thousands of lost jobs and millions of dollars in lost tax revenues for the impacted Communities and States. Along the Mississippi coast, several large Casinos on floating barges were damaged or destroyed when the surge pushed them onshore. Large numbers of evacuees have not returned home, producing a shortage of workers for those businesses that have reopened. Major beach erosion occurred along the tourism-dependent coasts of Mississippi and Alabama. A significant percentage of United States oil refining capacity was disrupted after the storm due to flooded refineries, crippled pipelines, and several oil rigs and platforms damaged, adrift or capsized. An oil rig under construction along the Mobile River in Alabama was dislodged, floated 1.5 miles northward, and struck the Cochrane Bridge just north of downtown Mobile Alabama. An offshore oil rig washed up near the beach of Dauphin Island Alabama. Several million gallons of oil were spilled from damaged facilities scattered throughout southeastern Louisiana. While several facilities have since resumed operations, oil and natural gas production and refining capacity in the northern Gulf of Mexico region remains less than that prior to Katrina. Key transportation arteries were disrupted or cut off by the Hurricane. Traffic along the Mississippi River was below normal capacity for at least two weeks following the storm. Major highways into and through New Orleans Louisiana were blocked by floods. Major bridges along the northern Gulf Coast were destroyed, including several in Mississippi and the Interstate 10 Twin Span Bridge connecting New Orleans Louisiana and Slidell Louisiana.
Update: Interstate 10 is now open all along the Southestern United States, including the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Commercial Property and Private Home Insurance

     Estimates for damages for Hurricane Katrina are still extremely preliminary and properly assessing losses will take many months. However, the total losses as a result of Katrina is estimated to exceed $100 billion with over $34 billion in insured losses. A preliminary estimate of the total damage cost of Katrina is assumed to be roughly twice the insured losses...using the AISG estimate...or about $75 billion. This figure would make Katrina far and away the costliest Hurricane in United States history. Even after adjusting for inflation, the estimated total damage cost of Katrina is roughly double that of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Normalizing for inflation and for increases in population and wealth, only the 1926 Hurricane that struck southern Florida surpasses Katrina in terms of damage cost. However, this would not be the case if the values on the higher end of the range of Katrina estimates are later found to be the most accurate. The Insurance Information Institute reports that due to Katrina, but combined with significant impacts from the other hurricanes striking the United States during 2005, was by a large margin the costliest year ever for Insured catastrophe losses in the United States.      

Evacuation Prior to Landfall of Hurricane Katrina

     Information provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicates that over 1.2 million people along the coastlines of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, were under some type of evacuation order...but it is not clear how many people actually evacuated. Many people remain separated from other family members and are unable to determine if their family members actually survived the storm or not. Media reports indicate that many displaced residents have moved either temporarily or permanently to other areas in the United States. A large number of these people might never return to live in their pre-Katrina homes or cities.
Update: Thousands of people were living in FEMA trailers. The FEMA trailers have now all been removed.

How Katrina Began

     The complex genesis of Hurricane Katrina involved the interaction of a tropical wave, the middle tropospheric remnants of Tropical Depression Ten, and an upper tropospheric trough. This trough, located over the western Atlantic and the Bahamas, produced strong westerly shear across Tropical Depression Ten, causing it to degenerate on 14 August approximately 825 Nautical Miles east of Barbados. The low-level circulation gradually weakened while continuing westward, and it eventually dissipated on 21 August in the vicinity of Cuba. Meanwhile, a middle tropospheric circulation originating from Tropical Depression Ten lagged behind and passed north of the Leeward Islands on 18-19 August. A tropical wave moved through the Leeward Islands and merged with the middle tropospheric remnants of Tropical Depression Ten on 19 August, forming a large area of showers and thunderstorms north of Puerto Rico. This activity continued to move slowly northwestward, passing north of Hispaniola and then consolidating just east of the Turks and Caicos during the afternoon of 22 August. Dvorak satellite classifications from the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB) of the Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) began at noon that day. The upper tropospheric trough weakened as it moved westward toward Florida, and the shear relaxed enough to allow the system to develop into a tropical depression by noon 23 August over the southeastern Bahamas about 175 nautical miles southeast of Nassau. The depression was designated Tropical Depression Twelve rather than "Ten" because a separate tropical wave appeared to be partially responsible for the cyclogenesis, and, more importantly, the low-level circulation of Tropical Depression Ten was clearly not involved.

August 23rd & 24th

     The depression continued to become organized over the Central Bahamas during the evening of 23 August. Deep convection increased overnight in the eastern semicircle of the cyclone and formed a well-defined band that began to wrap around the north side of the circulation center early on the morning of 24 August. Based on aircraft reconnaissance flight-level wind data, the cyclone became Katrina, the 11th Tropical Storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, at 6am 24 August when it was centered over the central Bahamas about 65 nautical miles east-southeast of Nassau. Initially the storm moved northwestward within a weakness in the lower tropospheric subtropical ridge. However, as the storm developed an inner core and evolved into a deeper cyclone on 24 August, it came under the influence of a strengthening middle to upper tropospheric ridge over the northern Gulf of Mexico and southern United States. This ridge turned Katrina westward on 25 August toward southern Florida. Katrina generated an intense burst of deep convection over the low-level center during the afternoon of 25 August while positioned over the northwestern Bahamas. Further strengthening ensued, and Katrina is estimated to have reached Hurricane status near 3pm 25 August, less than two hours before its center made landfall on the southeastern coast of Florida. The strengthening ridge over the northern Gulf of Mexico and southern United States produced northeasterly middle- to upper-level tropospheric flow that forced Hurricane Katrina to turn west-southwestward as it neared southern Florida.

August 25th

     Hurricane Katrina made its first landfall in the United States as a Category 1 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, with maximum sustained winds of 81 mph, near the border of Miami-Dade County and Broward County in Florida at approximately 5:30pm 25 August. While not discernible in conventional satellite imagery, a well-defined eye became evident on the Miami National Weather Service (NWS) WAR-88D Doppler radar just prior to landfall on the southeastern Florida coast. In fact, the eye feature actually became better defined while Katrina moved inland, and it remained intact during its entire track across the Peninsula. The convective pattern of Katrina as it crossed southern Florida was rather asymmetric due to northerly wind shear, which placed the strongest winds and heaviest rains south and east of the center in Miami-Dade County. Katrina continued west-southwestward overnight and spent only about six hours over land, mostly over the water-laden Everglades. Surface observations and velocity estimates from the Miami and Key West Doppler radars indicated that Katrina weakened over mainland Monroe County to a Tropical Storm with maximum sustained winds of 69 mph.

August 26th thru 27th

     The center of Tropical Storm Katrina then emerged into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico at approximately 11pm on 25 August just north of Cape Sable Florida. Once back over water, Katrina quickly regained Hurricane status at midnight 26 August with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. Even though the center of Katrina continued west-southwestward over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and away from the southern Florida peninsula, a strong and well-defined rain band impacted large portions of the Florida Keys with Tropical Storm-force winds for much of the day on 26 August. Sustained Hurricane-force winds were briefly measured at Dry Tortugas on the far western end of the island chain that afternoon.
     Situated beneath a very large upper-level anticyclone that dominated the entire Gulf of Mexico by 26 August, resulting in very weak wind shear and efficient upper-level outflow, Katrina embarked upon two periods of rapid intensification (defined as a 35 mph or greater intensity increase in a 24 hour period between 26 and 28 August. The first period involved an increase in the maximum sustained winds from 75 mph to 109 mph in the 24-h period ending 6pm 27 August. An eye became clearly evident in infrared satellite imagery early on 27 August, and Katrina became a Category 3 Hurricane with 115 mph winds at 6am that morning about 365 nautical miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. During the remainder of the day, the inner eyewall deteriorated while a new, outer eyewall formed, and the intensity leveled off at 115 mph. Accompanying the intensification and the subsequent deterioration of the inner eyewall was a significant expansion of the wind field on 27 August. Katrina nearly doubled in size on 27 August, and by the end of that day Tropical Storm-force winds extended up to about 140 nautical miles from the center. The strong middle to upper tropospheric ridge that had kept Katrina on a west-southwestward track over the Florida peninsula and southeastern Gulf of Mexico began to shift eastward toward Florida, while a mid-latitude trough amplified over the north-central United States. This evolving pattern resulted in a general westward motion on 27 August and a turn toward the northwest on 28 August when Katrina moved around the western periphery of the retreating ridge. As Katrina churned westward on 27 August, it produced Tropical Storm-force winds and heavy rainfall over portions of western Cuba.

August 28th & 29th

     The new eyewall contracted into a sharply-defined ring by 6pm 28 August, and a second, more rapid intensification then occurred. Katrina strengthened from a low-end Category 3 Hurricane to a Category 5 in less than 12 hours, reaching an intensity of 167 mph by 6am on August 28th. Katrina attained its peak intensity of 172 mph at 6am on August 28th about 195 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The wind field continued to expand on 28 August, and by late that day Tropical Storm-force winds extended out to about 230 miles from the center, and Hurricane force winds extended out to about 104 miles from the center, making Hurricane Katrina not only extremely intense but also exceptionally large in diameter.
     The new eyewall that formed late on 27 August…and contracted early on 28 August…began to erode on its southern side very late on 28 August, while another outer ring of convection consolidated. These structural changes likely contributed to the rapid weakening that was observed prior to final landfall. Katrina turned northward, toward the northern Gulf Coast, around the ridge over Florida early on 29 August. The Hurricane then made landfall, at the upper end of Category 3 intensity with estimated maximum sustained winds of 127 mph near Buras Louisiana at 5:10am 29 August. Katrina continued northward and made its final landfall near the mouth of the Pearl River at the Louisiana/Mississippi border, still as a Category 3 Hurricane with an estimated intensity of 121 mph. The rapid weakening of Katrina, from its peak intensity of 173 mph to 127 mph during the last 18 hours or so leading up to the first Gulf Coast landfall, appears to have been primarily due to internal structural changes, specifically the deterioration of the inner eyewall without the complete formation of a new outer eyewall.
     However, Katrina remained very large as it weakened, and the extent of Tropical Storm-force and Hurricane-force winds was nearly the same at final landfall on 29 August as it had been late on 28 August. The weakening could have been aided by entrainment of dry air that was seen eroding the deep convection over the western semicircle while Katrina approached the Gulf Coast. Gradually increasing wind shear, slightly lower ocean temperatures, and...following the first Gulf Coast landfall...interaction with land each could also have played a role. Without extensive investigation, however, it is not possible to assess the relative roles played by these various factors. The weakening of major hurricanes as they approach the northern Gulf Coast has occurred on several occasions in the past when one or more of these factors have been in place. Indeed, an unpublished study by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reveals that, during the past 20 years, all 11 Hurricanes having a central pressure less than 29 inches of mercury…12 hours before landfall in the northern Gulf of Mexico…weakened during these last 12 hours.

August 29th & 30th

     Hurricane Katrina weakened rapidly after moving inland over southern and central Mississippi, becoming a Category 1 Hurricane by noon 29 August. It weakened to a Tropical Storm about six hours later just northwest of Meridian Mississippi. Katrina accelerated on 30 August, between the ridge over the southeastern United States and an eastward-moving trough over the Great Lakes. It turned Northeastward over the Tennessee Valley and became a Tropical Depression at 6am 30 August.

August 31st Extratropical

     The Tropical Depression continued northeastward and transformed into an Extratropical low pressure system by 6pm 31 August. The low was absorbed within a frontal zone later that day over the eastern Great Lakes.

Katrina Observation

     Observations on Hurricane Katrina include data from satellites, aircraft, airborne and ground-based radars, conventional land-based surface and upper-air observing sites, Coastal-Marine Automated Network (C-MAN) stations, National Ocean Service (NOS) stations, ocean data buoys, and ships.
     Selected ship reports of winds of tropical storm force associated with Hurricane Katrina, and selected surface observations from land stations and from coastal and fixed ocean data buoys. Data from many Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) sites, C-MAN stations, and buoys are incomplete due to power outages and other weather-induced failures prior to when peak winds and minimum pressures occurred.
Satellite observations include geostationary satellite-based Dvorak Technique intensity estimates from TAFB, the Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), and the U. S. Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA). Microwave satellite data and imagery from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) near-polar-orbiting satellites, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellites including the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), QuikSCAT, and Aqua, were also useful in tracking Katrina and assessing changes in its internal structure.
     Aircraft reconnaissance missions were tasked on an almost continuous schedule from the genesis of Katrina until its final landfall. Observations from aircraft include flight-level and dropwindsonde data from 12 operational missions into Katrina, conducted by the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron of the U. S. Air Force Reserve Command, which produced 46 center fixes. Three missions were flown by the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) Hurricane Hunter WP-3D aircraft, producing additional flight-level and dropwindsonde observations, 19 center fixes, real-time data from the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR), and airborne Doppler radar-derived wind analyses provided by NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division (HRD). Additionally, the NOAA G-IV jet conducted six synoptic surveillance missions during 24-29 August to collect dropwindsonde observations, primarily for enhancing the amount of data available to operational numerical models that provided guidance to NHC forecasters. An Air Force C-130J aircraft conducted one surveillance mission jointly with the G-IV on 25 August.
National Weather Service Doppler radars across the southeastern United States and United States Department of Defense radars located in the Bahamas provided center fixes on Katrina. NWS WAR-88D velocity data were used to help estimate the intensity of Katrina when it was near or over land. Katrina’s Florida landfall intensity of 81 mph near 6:30pm 25 August is based on reduction to the surface of elevated velocities from the NWS Miami WAR-88D radar. The Miami radar, and 75 mph winds measured by the SFMR on board a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft, also indicated that Katrina had earlier become a 75 mph Hurricane at about 3pm.

Hurricane Katrina Winds - Florida

     Due to Hurricane Katrina’s asymmetric convective pattern as it passed over the Florida peninsula, the strongest winds occurred south and east of the center in Miami-Dade County. While the eye moved west-southwestward over northern Miami-Dade, it passed over the NWS Miami Forecast Office / National Hurricane Center facility near Sweetwater Florida where a pressure of 29 inches of mercury was measured at 1:05am 26 August. The eastern eyewall moved over the facility a few minutes later and sustained winds of 69 mph with a gust to 88 mph were measured near 1:15am. The strongest sustained wind measured by a land-based anemometer was 72 mph on Virginia Key. Doppler Radar velocities from both the Miami and Key West WAR-88D Radars suggest that maximum sustained surface winds were likely just less than Hurricane strength while Katrina was centered over mainland Monroe County and while crossing the southwestern Florida coast. However, these data, combined with Dvorak satellite intensity estimates, indicate Katrina regained Hurricane strength shortly after emerging over the Gulf of Mexico early on 26 August. Later that day, from about 1:30pm to 3:30pm, the Dry Tortugas C-MAN station...elevation 20 ft...located about 60 nautical miles west of Key West Florida reported sustained Hurricane-force winds, as strong as 82 mph, with a gust to 105 mph. While sustained Hurricane-force winds were not reported elsewhere in the Florida Keys, much of the Island Chain experienced sustained Tropical Storm-force winds with peak gusts between 69 and 81 mph while the center of Katrina passed to the north on 26 August.
     Aircraft data indicate that Katrina continued to strengthen on 26 August, but concentric maxima in flight-level wind data and microwave imagery from several near-polar-orbiting satellites depict an eyewall replacement cycle that occurred on 27 August. The deterioration of the inner eyewall can be seen. This cycle temporarily prevented further strengthening, and aircraft data and Dvorak estimates indicate the intensity remained steady near 115 mph throughout that day. Katrina produced Tropical Storm-force winds in portions of western Cuba on 27 August, with gusts as strong as 62 mph and rainfall totals exceeding 8 inches in some locations. After the new eyewall consolidated and began to contract very early on 28 August, Katrina deepened that morning at a very rapid rate.

Hurricane Katrina Winds - Mississippi & Louisiana

     Dropwindsonde observations from the Air Force and NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate the central pressure fell 0.94 inches of mercury in 12 hours, to 27 inches of mercury by 6pm 28 August. The first wind observation to support Category 5 intensity was a peak 21 inches of mercury flight-level wind of 176 mph at about 5am 28 August, which corresponds to about 159 mph at the surface, using the 90% adjustment based on the mean eyewall wind profile derived from several past storms. The strongest flight-level wind measurement in Katrina was 191 mph near 8am that day, corresponding to about 173 mph at the surface. Dropwindsondes on 28 August provided surface wind estimates, derived from the mean wind over the lowest 492 feet of the sounding, that were no greater than about 150-155 mph, but a few of these dropwindsondes directly measured 161 to 164 mph winds at 31 feet. However, none of these dropwindsondes were released precisely from the point where flight-level winds were 191 mph, and it is also not likely that any of these dropwindsondes measured the maximum surface wind in the circulation. The SFMR, with a post-storm recalibration applied to compensate for a previous low bias at extremely high wind speeds, estimated surface winds as strong as 162 mph on the afternoon of 28 August, when maximum flight-level winds were about 184 mph. All available data from dropwindsondes and the SFMR indicate that, on average, the 90% adjustment of flight-level winds to the surface was valid until very late on 28 August. The central pressure in Katrina fell to 27 inches of mercury near noon 28 August. This pressure was...at the time...the fourth lowest on record in the Atlantic basin, behind 26 inches of mercury in Gilbert (1988), 26.3 inches of mercury in the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, and 26.5 inches of mercury in Allen in 1980. However, it has since quickly fallen to sixth lowest, following an observation of 26.5 inches of mercury in Hurricane Rita in September 2005 and the new record of 26 inches of mercury in Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. Based on the 26.6 inches of mercury pressure, and on the earlier 191 mph flight-level wind, the peak best track intensity of 173 mph is estimated to have occurred at noon 28 August. with a visible satellite image of Katrina at that time.
     Just prior to final landfall, surface 10 meter winds measured by dropwindsonde were as strong as 114 mph, adjustment to the surface of the mean wind speed in the lowest 492 feet of dropwindsonde profiles yielded surface winds of 104 to 109 mph, and SFMR winds were as strong as 105 mph. Making a similar assumption, as for the Buras landfall intensity, that the available data did not sample the maximum wind in the circulation, Katrina is estimated to have made final landfall at an intensity of 106 mph, 6 mph less than what was assessed operationally. The strongest sustained wind measured from a fixed location at the surface on the morning of 29 August was 87 mph at 2:20am by the C-MAN station at Grand Isle Louisiana. This station’s anemometer, at 16 meter elevation, failed at about 3am, about two hours before closest approach of the eye. The Southwest Pass Louisiana C-MAN station…30 meter elevation…measured a sustained wind of 82 mph at 10:20pm, before the station failed at about 11pm due to storm surge, about four hours prior to closest approach of the eye. The strongest reported wind gust, although unofficial, was 135 mph in Poplarville Mississippi at the Pearl River County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). A gust to 124 mph was reported in Pascagoula Mississippi at the Jackson County EOC.
The strongest gust from an official reporting station was 114 mph at the Grand Isle Louisiana CMAN station at 2:38am 29 August, about 2.5 hours prior to the Buras Louisiana landfall. While the intensity of Hurricane Katrina was Category 3 as the center of the eye made its closest approach, about 20 nautical miles to the east of downtown New Orleans, the strongest winds corresponding to that intensity were likely present only over water to the east of the eye. The sustained winds over all of Metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain likely remained weaker than Category 3 strength.
     The strongest sustained wind in New Orleans is subject to speculation since observations are sparse, due in part to the power failures that disabled ASOS stations in the area before peak wind conditions occurred. However, the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans measured a 1-minute sustained wind of 126 mph (at an elevation of about 12 m) near 5am 29 August. Also, a few instrumented towers placed in various locations in the metropolitan area by the Florida Coastal Monitoring Program (FCMP) and by Texas Tech University measured sustained winds in the range of 70-75 mph. The Mid-Lake Pontchartrain NWS site (16 m elevation), located along the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway about 8 nautical miles north of the South Shore of the lake, also measured a one-minute sustained wind of 68 knsots. Even though these various sites likely did not experience the maximum wind in the area, the Mid-Lake Pontchartrain site had open marine exposure, unlike most locations in the city of New Orleans. It appears likely that most of the city experienced sustained surface winds of Category 1 or Category 2 strength. It is important to note, however, that winds in a Hurricane generally increase from the ground upward to a few hundred feet in altitude, and the sustained winds experienced on upper floors of high-rise buildings were likely stronger than the winds at the same location near the ground. For example, on average the 25th story of a building would experience a sustained wind corresponding to one Saffir-Simpson category stronger than that experienced at the standard observing height of 32 feet.

Storm Surge

A note about water: It must be understood that water weights about 60 pounds per cubic foot and has unusually low compressibility like steel. Imagine a nearly solid wall of water 30 feet deep and 1,000 feet wide traveling at 20 miles per hour. At 60 pounds per cubic foot, that would be many tons of fast moving water. Fast moving water can easily go around the sharp corners of a building, but it "slams" straight into the flat walls of any structure causing total, or near total destruction. Fast moving water can also go around the circular trunk of a tree. Although small trees may not be able to withstand the force of fast moving water, larger and stronger trees can. That's why almost all of the larger trees on the Mississippi Gulf Coast remained standing after Hurricane Camille in August of 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005.
     Definition: Primarily, Storm Surge is the onshore rush of sea water caused by the high winds associated with a land falling Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm, or Tropical Hurricane. Secondarily, Storm Surge is caused by the low pressure in or near the center of the storm.
     A precise measurement of the storm surge produced by Katrina along the northern Gulf Coast is complicated by many factors, including the widespread failures of tide gauges. Additionally, in many locations, most of the buildings along the coast were completely destroyed, leaving few structures within which to identify high-water marks. Survey crews are still collecting data and conducting analyses as of this writing, without yet an explicit attempt to separate out the surge component of the high water mark measurements that are also a result of waves and, to a lesser extent, tides.
     An unofficial storm tide...actual level of sea water...observation of 28 feet at the Hancock County, Mississippi Emergency Operations Center suggests that the storm surge produced by Katrina was as high as about 27 feet at that location. This observation provides an indication of the magnitude of the event, and comparable surge heights could have occurred along other portions of the Western and Central Gulf Coast of Mississippi.
     Why are the strongest winds in a hurricane typically on the eastern side of the storm? In general, the strongest winds in a hurricane are found on the right side of the storm because the motion of the hurricane also contributes to its swirling winds. If moving northward at 10 mph, a hurricane with a 90 mph winds while stationary...would have winds up to 100 mph on the eastern side and only 80 mph on the western side.
     The storm surge appears to have penetrated at least six miles inland in many portions of coastal Mississippi and up to 12 miles inland along Bays and Rivers. The surge crossed Interstate 10 in many locations. Katrina produced a lesser but still very significant storm surge along the eastern Gulf Coast of Mississippi and along the coast of Alabama. Observations suggest the storm surge was about 10 feet as far east as Mobile, Alabama where Katrina caused flooding several miles inland from the Gulf coast along Mobile Bay.
     Although the storm surge was higher to the East of the path of the eye of Katrina, a very significant storm surge also occurred West of the path of the eye, but the height of the surge is uncertain, in part because tide gauge observations along the Southeastern coast of Louisiana were very limited and incomplete. As the level of Lake Pontchartain rose, several feet of water were pushed into Communities along its Northeastern Shore from Slidell to Mandeville Louisiana. The surge severely strained the levee system in the New Orleans area. Several of the Levees and Floodwalls were overtopped and/or breached at different times on the day of landfall, although the specific times and exact causes of failure remain uncertain as of this writing. The surge overtopped large sections of the Levees during the morning of 29 August east of New Orleans, in Orleans Parish and Saint Bernard Parish, and it also pushed water up the Intracoastal Waterway and into the Industrial Canal. The water rise in Lake Pontchartrain strained the Floodwalls along the Canals adjacent to its Southern Shore, including the 17th Street Canal and the London Avenue Canal. Breaches along both the Industrial Canal east of downtown New Orleans and the 17th Street Canal northwest of downtown appear to have occurred during the early morning on 29 August, possibly even before the eye made initial landfall in Louisiana. Breaches along the London Avenue Canal north of downtown appear to have occurred later that night. Overall, about 80% of the city of New Orleans flooded, to varying depths up to about 20 feet…within a day or so after landfall of the eye. Following the setbacks caused by additional flooding associated with the late September 2005 passage of Hurricane Rita to the south, the Army Corps of Engineers reported on 11 October 2005...43 days after Hurricane Katrina’s landfall…that all floodwaters had been removed from the city of New Orleans.
     The massive storm surge produced by Katrina, even though it had weakened from Category 5 intensity the previous day to Category 3 at landfall in Louisiana, can be generally explained by the huge size of the storm. Hurricane Katrina, on 29 August had a large...about 25 to 30 nautical mile radius of maximum winds and a very wide swath of Hurricane force winds that extended at least 75 nautical miles to the east from the center. Even though Hurricane Camille in 1969 was more intense than Katrina at landfall while following a similar track, Camille was far more compact and produced comparably high storm surge values along a much narrower path. Also, Katrina had already generated large northward propagating swells, leading to substantial wave setup along the northern Gulf coast, when it was at Category 4 and 5 strength during the 24 hours or so before landfall.
     In fact, buoy 42040, operated by the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) and located about 64 nautical miles south of Dauphin Island Alabama, reported a significant wave height...defined as the average of the one-third highest waves...of 30 feet as early as 6pm 29 August. This buoy later measured a peak significant wave height of 55 feet at 5am 30 August that matches the largest significant wave height ever measured by a NDBC buoy.

     Overall, Hurricane Katrina’s very high water levels are attributable to a large Category 3 hurricane’s storm surge being enhanced by waves generated not long before by a Category 5 strength storm. Katrina also produced some storm surge outside of the northern Gulf Coast hurricane warning areas. Gauge data indicate that storm surge ranged from up to about five feet along the Florida panhandle to about one or two feet along most of the west-central coast of Florida. About two to four feet of storm surge occurred along the extreme southwestern Florida coast. A storm surge of about two feet was reported at Key West, Florida as Katrina passed by to the north on 26 August. The surge was also small, about two feet, along portions of the southeastern coast of Florida.

Tornadoes

     Hurricane Katrina produced a total of 33 reported tornadoes. One tornado was reported in the Florida Keys on the morning of 26 August. On 29-30 August, 17 tornadoes were reported in Georgia, four in Alabama, and 11 in Mississippi. The Georgia tornadoes were the most on record in that State for any single day in the month of August, and one of them caused the only August hurricane related tornado fatality on record in Georgia.

Rainfall - Florida

     Rainfall distributions associated with Hurricane Katrina across southern Florida were highly asymmetric about the storm track, with the greatest floods occurring over the southern semicircle of the hurricane, primarily affecting portions of southern Miami-Dade County. Selected rainfall totals from Miami-Dade County include 14.04 inches at Homestead Air Force Base, 12.25 inches at Florida City, and 11.13 inches in Cutler Ridge. Rainfall amounts to the north of the center over northern Miami-Dade County and Broward County were generally 2 to 4 inches. Rainfall amounts over interior and western portions of the southern Florida peninsula were much less and generally ranged from 1 to 3 inches.

Rainfall - The Mississippi Gulf Coast & Eastern Louisiana

     Precipitation amounts during the landfall along the northern Gulf Coast were greatest along and just west of the track of the center. A large swath of 8 to 10 inches of rain fell across southeastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi, with a small area of 10 to 12 inches over eastern Louisiana, including 11.63 inches reported at the Slidell Louisiana NWS office. Katrina produced rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 inches well inland over Mississippi and portions of the Tennessee Valley.

Hurricane Katrina's Structure

     The structure of Hurricane Katrina changed dramatically from 28 to 29 August as it approached the northern Gulf Coast. TRMM 85 GHz imagery at 3:33pm 28 August revealed a developing outer eyewall, and subsequent microwave overpasses depicted the inner eyewall steadily eroding, especially on the southern side. The central pressure gradually rose to 27 inches of mercury by the time of the initial Louisiana landfall near Buras at about 6:10am 29 August. Maximum 20.6 inches of mercury flight-level winds were still 150-155 mph east of the eye around that time and were the basis for the operationally assessed intensity of 138 mph at the Buras landfall and at 6am. NWS Slidell WAR-88D Radar data confirmed the strength of these flight-level winds, but the center of the Hurricane was much too distant for the Radar to provide concurrent near-surface wind estimates close to the eye.
     Post-storm analysis of numerous dropwindsonde profiles indicates that the structure of Katrina had changed since the previous day when it was at its peak intensity, such that the usual 90% adjustment of flight-level winds would likely provide overestimates of the surface winds on 29 August. Comparison of flight-level winds collocated with dropwindsondes and SFMR data, suggest the flight-level to surface reduction factor that morning was closer to 80% or perhaps even less. Additional evidence of this structural transformation comes from airborne Doppler Radar-derived wind speed cross sections on 29 August, obtained from the NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft. These data reveal an unusual, broad, and elevated wind maximum in the 2 to 4 kilometer layer...centered near the 20.6 inches of mercury flight level...well above the more typical location of the maximum wind near the top of the boundary layer, approximately 1,640 feet that had been observed on 28 August.
     This example is one of several cross sections from east of the eye on the morning of 29 August that depict the atypical (not normal) elevated wind maximum.
     The aircraft data from 29 August indicated that the structural changes in Hurricane Katrina were associated with its rapid weakening to a high-end Category 3 Hurricane just before landfall in Louisiana. The strongest surface wind measured by a dropwindsonde on the morning of August 29th was 148 mph from two separate dropwindsondes. The maximum surface wind estimate from a dropwindsonde, derived from the mean wind over the lowest 492 feet of the sounding using an average adjustment derived from profiles in several storms, was 113 mph. However, analysis of several dropwindsonde profiles from 29 August suggests that a slightly different adjustment could have been valid that day. This difference would result in 10 meter wind estimates derived from the lowest 492 feet of the dropwindsonde profiles being 3.5 to 5.8 mph stronger, or up to about 118 mph. The maximum surface wind measured by the SFMR on 29 August was 110 mph just after 6am.

Central Pressure

     The best track intensity of Katrina at 6am on 29 August, shortly after the initial Louisiana landfall when the central pressure was 27.25 inches of mercury, has been adjusted downward in post-storm analysis to 126 mph from the operationally assessed value of 138 mph. The Buras Louisiana landfall intensity about one hour earlier has also been estimated at 126 mph, when the central pressure was only slightly lower at 27 inches of mercury. This estimate is still about 10% greater than the maximum surface winds from the dropwindsondes and SFMR, accounting for the possibility that these instruments did not sample the maximum wind. It is worth noting that Hurricane Katrina was likely at Category 4 strength with maximum sustained winds of about 132 mph near 3am on 29 August, a couple of hours before the center made landfall near Buras Louisiana.      Due to the large radius of maximum winds…approximately 29 to 35 miles, it is possible that sustained winds of Category 4 strength briefly impacted the extreme southeastern tip of Louisiana in advance of landfall of the center. The estimated Buras Louisiana landfall intensity of 127 mph, just beneath the threshold of Category 4, is quite low relative to many other Hurricanes with a comparable minimum central pressure. In fact, Katrina's central pressure of 27 inches of mercury is now the lowest on record in the Atlantic basin for an intensity of 127 mph, surpassing Hurricane Floyd in 1999 that at one point had a central pressure of 27.5 inches of mercury with an intensity of 126.5 mph. The 27.16 inches of mercury pressure is also the third lowest at United States landfall on record, behind only Hurricane Camille in 1969...26.8 inches of mercury, and the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane that struck the Florida Keys…26.3 inches of mercury.
     The relatively weak winds in Katrina, for such a low central pressure, are the result of the broadening pressure field on August 29th that spread the pressure gradient over a much larger than average distance from the center...as confirmed by both surface and aircraft observations. The generally weakening convection likely also reduced momentum mixing down to the surface, contributing to surface winds being less than what the usual 90% adjustment from flight level winds would dictate. Katrina exemplifies that there is not simply a direct one-to-one relationship between the central pressure and the maximum sustained winds in a hurricane.
     The central pressure in Hurricane Katrina continued to gradually rise during the next few hours leading up to its final landfall near the Louisiana & Mississippi border at about 12 noon, when the pressure had reached 27.4 inches of mercury. The eastern eyewall of the Hurricane remained too distant from the National Weather Service Slidell Louisiana Doppler Radar during this period, for the Radar to provide near-surface wind estimates where the strongest winds were occurring. However, all available data from aircraft indicate that Katrina’s winds weakened only slightly between the first and last Gulf Coast landfalls.


Hurricane Camille & Hurricane Katrina
  Their Similarities & Their Differences


Similarities

The “Big Differences" between Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina will follow the Similarities between both storms.

     (1) They both made landfall on or near the Mississippi Gulf Coast during the month of August. Camille in August of 1969 and Katrina in August of 2005.

     (2) They both made landfall at and around 12:00 on the clock. Camille made landfall at and around midnight between August 17th and 18th. Katrina made landfall at and around noon on August 29th.

     (3) Camille “ran” across the water and the land, both before and after landfall at about 20 mph. On the other hand, Katrina “tiptoed” across the water and the land, both before and after landfall, at somewhere between 5 and 10 miles per hour.
     
     (4) Hurricane Camille made landfall as a "Category 5" Hurricane. However, Hurricane Camille, because of it's wind speed, actually made landfall as a category higher than Category 5...but there are no categories higher than Category 5 even today. Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a Category 3 Hurricane.

     (5) Hurricane Camille’s maximum winds reported prior to landfall were about 170 mph. But the actual wind speed may never be known because all of the wind speed instruments on buoys offshore and along the coastline were destroyed. However, over 200 mph winds were reported from instruments further inland, and a pressure reading from a ship offshore equated to about 220 mph. Hurricane Katrina had a maximum circulating wind speed of about 120 mph at landfall.
   Update: From Post-Tropical Cyclone Report for Hurricane Katrina  Sustained and Peak winds: Mississippi...Pascagoula...Sustained 44 mph Peak 51 mph...Biloxi/Keesler AFB Sustained 60 mph Peak 98 mph...Gulfport...Sustained 46 mph Peak 104 mph  McComb Sustained 48 mph Peak 64 mph   Louisiana...Slidell Sustained 37 mph Pea 51 mph...Boothville Sustained 30 mph Peak 45 mph...New Orleans Lakefront Airport Sustained 70 mph Peak 86 mph  Baton Rouge Sustained 45 mph peak 50 mph. Mississippi Emergency Operations Centers peak wind gusts before wind equipment was blown down...Pascagoula 124 mph...Poplarville 135 mph.

     (6) Hurricane Camille’s eye, at landfall, had a small diameter of somewhere between 10 and 15 miles. Hurricane Katrina’s eye, at landfall, had a diameter of somewhere between 25 and 30 miles. Generally, the smaller the diameter of a Hurricane, the lower the Central Pressure and the higher the circulating wind speeds. Larger diameter storms have a higher Central Pressure and lower circulating wind speeds.

     (7) The high water level on landfall for Hurricane Camille, combining the wind driven waves and storm surge, was about 28 to 30 feet. The high water level on landfall for Hurricane Katrina, combining the wind driven waves and storm surge, was somewhat higher due to the slower movement of the storm. This caused the water level of Katrina to rise further, before the winds reversed direction and forced the water level to recede. However, due to storm-driven debrie, forced upward into rivers and creeks, the water took much more time to recede to normal.

     (8) The loss of life because of Hurricane Camille was about 250 persons. The loss of life in Mississippi because of Hurricane Katrina was about 150. The “actual” number of people killed by both Hurricanes may never be known because many may have been permanently buried under debris or washed out to sea.
    Update: From Post-Tropical Cyclone Report for Hurricane Katrina  On October 20th 2005...the death toll stood at 1,053 in Louisiana and 228 in Mississippi. The figures likely include direct and indirect fatalities.

     (9) Because of Hurricane Camille, about 5,000 homes were totally destroyed and 40,000 were heavily damaged. Because of Hurricane Katrina, about 20,000 homes were totally destroyed and 100,000 were heavily damaged.

     (10) The destruction, in dollars, caused by Hurricane Camille was, adjusted for inflation, $8,790,000,000 or nearly 9 billion dollars. The destruction, in dollars, caused by Hurricane Katrina has yet to be determined. It will be published here when it becomes available.
    Update: From Post-Tropical Cyclone Report for Hurricane Katrina  February 17th 2006 Insured property losses estimated as follows...Louisiana 22.6 Billion Dollars...Mississippi 9.8 Billion Dollars. Dollar estimates do not include losses covered by the Federal Flood Insurance program.

This concludes the similarities between Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina.

Differences

"The Big Difference"  Why were the levels of water resulting from Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina different?

     (1) As stated before, Camille “ran” across the water and the land, both before and after landfall. On the other hand, Katrina “tiptoed” across the water and the land, both before and after landfall. Camille was a relatively small diameter hurricane. Katrina was a relatively large diameter storm.

     (2) As stated under August 28th & 29th above..."The wind field (of Hurricane Katrina) continued to expand on 28 August, and by late that day Tropical Storm-force winds extended out to about 230 miles from the center, and Hurricane force winds extended out to about 104 miles from the center, making Hurricane Katrina not only intense but also exceptionally large in diameter. Also, Katrina had already generated large northward propagating swells, leading to substantial "wave setup"...meaning pressure of wind driven waves onshore...along the northern Gulf coast, when it was at Category 4 and 5 strength during the 24 hours or so before landfall. Therefore, the high water level on landfall for Hurricane Katrina, combining the wind driven waves and storm surge, was about 38 to 42 feet at some locations.

     (4) Even though Hurricane Camille in 1969 was more intense than Katrina at landfall while following a similar track, Camille was far more compact and produced a comparably high storm surge of 28 to 30 feet.

     (5) Hurricane Katrina's maximum circulating wind speed at landfall was about 120 mph.

     (6) Hurricane Camille's maximum circulating wind speed at landfall was 200+ mph.

     (7) During Hurricane Camille, the “Storm Surge”, the high water surrounding the eye of a Hurricane, and the wind driven waves arrived at nearly the same time resulting in a “total” high water level of 28 to 30 feet. Also, because of the speed of motion and small diameter of Camille, the winds reversed direction very quickly, and the water receded very quickly back into the Gulf of Mexico...preventing a further build up of high water levels. Because of the speed of Camille moving inland, the following morning was a bright sunny day on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

     (8) The eye of Hurricane Katrina moved much slower than Hurricane Camille. Therefore, the wind driven waves had already piled up about 15 to 20 feet of water along the coastline the night before the storm made landfall. The water was held there by the Southeast direction of the circulating winds. When the Storm Surge arrived, it added another 20 feet of water to the already existing 15 to 20 feet of water, which combined together resulted in 35 to 40 feet of water at some locations along the coastline. Because of the slow motion of Hurricane Katrina, the winds did not reverse direction for almost 4 hours, and the water receded very slowly back into the Gulf of Mexico. Because of the slow motion and large diameter of Katrina moving inland, the following morning was not a bright and sunny day, and thunderstorms and lightning continued for almost an entire additional day.

Summary

     Both Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina destroyed nearly all of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Hurricane Camille by it's very high circulating winds at over 200 miles per hour and 28 to 30 feet of storm surge. Hurricane Katrina also destroyed nearly all of the Mississippi Gulf Coast by it's much higher storm surge of 35 to 40 feet and 120 mph wind speeds. Pictures taken after both storms show nearly the same amount of destruction of homes, neighborhoods, cars, trees, schools, libraries, government and commercial businesses, streets and highways, beaches, bridges, railroad tracks, boats and docks, radio and television stations, gas stations, grocery stores, telephone service, electrical service, water service, natural gas service, sewer lines, and other structures and services too numerous to mention here. Anything you can think of was either totally destroyed or damaged nearly beyond repair.
Repeating a note about water: It must be understood that water weights about 60 pounds per cubic foot and has unusually low compressibility like steel. Imagine a nearly solid wall of water 30 feet deep and 1,000 feet wide traveling at 20 miles to 30 per hour. At 60 pounds per cubic foot, that would be many tons of fast moving water. Fast moving water can easily go around the sharp corners of a building, but it "slams" straight into the flat walls of any structure causing total, or near total destruction. Fast moving water can also go around the circular trunk of a tree. Although small trees may not be able to withstand the force of fast moving water, larger and stronger trees can. That's why almost all of the larger trees on the Mississippi Gulf Coast remained standing after Hurricane Camille in August of 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005.


THE BLUE BACKGROUND INDICATES YOU VIEWING THIS PARTICULAR HURRICANE KATRINA PAGE

THE STORY OF HURRICANE KATRINA - TEXT

THE TRACK OF KATRINA & RADAR & SATELLITE

DESTRUCTION OF POST 119 BY KATRINA

THE GULFPORT VA CENTER AFTER KATRINA

RESIDENTIAL PICTURES PICTURES AFTER KATRINA

OTHER PICTURES ALONG THE GULF COAST

PICTURES OF BOATS FOLLOWING KATRINA

AERIAL PICTURES OF KATRINA'S DESTRUCTION

DIRECTORY OF HURRICANE KATRINA LINKS


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