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Hurricane Katrina - Week 1

Hurricane Katrina - Monday 29 August 2005

Hurricane Katrina made landfall in eastern Louisiana and Mississippi during the morning hours. Katrina reached category 5 status Sunday morning and remained a powerful hurricane. Some fluctuations in intensity was anticipated prior to landfall, but Katrina remained a major hurricane as it impacted the Gulf Coast. Katrina weakened overnight to a Category 4 storm and turned slightly eastward before hitting land about 6:10 AM. CDT east of Grand Isle in Plaquemines Parish, LA. A storm surge of 20 to 25 feet was possible along and to the east of the center of Katrina. On top of the water level rise (surge), waves of 20 to 40 feet are possible. West of the center, impacts would be less.

Hurricane Katrina plowed into New Orleans Monday morning with 145-mph winds. By 9 AM CDT, Katrina was centered about 30 miles southeast of New Orleans, with the western eye wall and some of the fiercest weather directly over New Orleans. Katrina's 15-foot storm surge, down from a feared 28 feet, was still substantial enough to cause extensive flooding.

Katrina hit as a Category 4 storm, bringing a storm surge that overwhelmed three levees that had been designed to withstand a Category 3 storm. By 8 AM Mayor Nagin said on the NBC Today show that "I've gotten reports this morning that there is already water coming over some of the levee systems. In the lower ninth ward, we've had one of our pumping stations to stop operating, so we will have significant flooding, it is just a matter of how much." A large section of the 17th Street Canal levee, where it connected to the new 'hurricane proof' Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning. At 11:00 AM the National Weather Service reported that a levee broke on the Industrial Canal - the waterway that connects the Mississippi River to the Intracoastal Waterway - near the St. Bernard-Orleans parish line at Tennessee Street, and 3 to 10 feet of flooding was possible with Arabi receiving some degree of rising water..

Katrina moved north through eastern Mississippi/western Alabama Monday night and early Tuesda. A concern inland was the torrential rainfall, 5 to 10 inches worth. The heavy rain in a short period of time could lead to fresh water flooding.

Coastal storm surge flooding of 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels, locally as high as 28 feet, along with large and dangerous battering waves were expected near and to the east of where the center made landfall. Significant storm surge flooding occured elsewhere along the central and northeastern Gulf of Mexico coast. NOAA buoy 42040, located about 50 miles east of the mouth of the Mississippi river reported waves heights of at least 46 feet.

President Bush, on a visit Monday to Arizona and California, pledged extensive federal help for victims of Katrina to "get your lives back in order." The government put into effect a massive emergency assistance program that included rushing baby formula, communications equipment, generators, water and ice into hard-hit areas.

Administration officials said Bush was expected to authorize a loan of at least some oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said Monday that final details were being worked out.

Hurricane Katrina - Sunday 28 August 2005

National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield explained the dangers of Katrina during a video conference with President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas [Mayfield later said: "They knew that this one was different. ... I don't think Mike Brown or anyone else in FEMA could have any reason to have any problem with our calls. ... They were told ... We said the levees could be topped." This warning was included in the 4PM CDT warning, which noted that "SOME LEVEES IN THE GREATER NEW ORLEANS AREA COULD BE OVERTOPPED." The 1 PM CDT public warning had not included this warning. Over the intervening three hours the probability that New Orleansn would be hit increased from 31% to 46%.

Coastal residents jammed freeways and gas stations as they rushed to get out of the way of Hurricane Katrina, which grew into a dangerous Category 4 storm early Sunday as it headed for New Orleans and the Louisiana coast. Katrina gained strength overnight, become a Category 4 with 145 mph sustained winds as it moved over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico early this morning.

Indeed Katrina became a Category 5 storm before landfall. At this point, there was little doubt in the FEMA Emergency Operations Center on Sunday that a catastrophe was iminent, and that thousands would die.

A hurricane watch extended from Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border, and President Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana. His spokesman urged residents along the coast to heed authorities' advice to evacuate. Katrina would be especially devastating if it strikes New Orleans because the city sits below sea level and is dependent on levees and pumps to keep the water out. A direct hit could wind up submerging the city in many feet of water.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation, but did not implement plans to transport the elderly, the infirm, or those too poor to get themselves out. At least 100,000 people in the city lacked the transportation or inclination to get out of town. The Superdome was used as a shelter of last resort for people who have no cars, with city bus pick-up points around New Orleans. Owners of gas stations in and around New Orleans were forced to direct traffic as lines to the pumps stretched down surrounding streets.

Louisiana and Mississippi made all lanes northbound on interstate highways. Mississippi declared a state of emergency and Alabama offered assistance to its neighbors. Some motels as far inland as Jackson, Miss., 150 miles north of New Orleans, were already booked up.

Hurricane Katrina - Saturday 27 August 2005

Katrina began the day as a Category Three hurricane and some strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours. Reconnaissance aircraft data indicated that the Katrina had also become a larger hurricane.

Robert Latham, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said evacuations of tourists along the coast could begin late Saturday afternoon, followed by mandatory evacuations of coastal residents on Sunday. The National Guard had been activated to help with storm preparations, he said. Gas stations were running low on gas by midafternoon Saturday. With the hurricane gaining force in the Gulf, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin called for a voluntary evacuation of the city. He had been briefed by the National Weather Service, which advised him of the risk that the city's levees would be overtopped by the storm surge.

The last time Mississippi or Louisiana saw landfall from a storm classified as Category 4 or stronger was in August 1969, when Hurricane Camille roared ashore with winds in excess of 155 mph, killing 143 people.

In the Gulf of Mexico, six oil companies operating offshore facilities evacuated at least 150 people as a precaution. However, most of those employees were described as "non-essential" to production, and rigs and platforms continued to operate. At least 12 platforms and nine oil rigs in the Gulf have been evacuated -- a small portion of the 953 manned rigs and platforms operating there, according to the Interior Department's Mineral Management Service.

Hurricane Katrina - Friday 26 August 2005

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared States of Emergency Friday. In Louisiana, New Orleans is of particular concern because much of that city lies below sea level. According to Gov. Blanco, Lake Pontchartrain is a very large lake that sits next to the city of New Orleans and if the hurricane winds blow from a certain direction, there are dire predictions of what may happen in the city.

Friday afternoon, the Air Force began evacuating aircraft from at least two bases in the Florida Panhandle to minimize any possible damage.

Hurricane Katrina - Thursday 25 August 2005

Katrina was a Category 1 storm with 80 mph wind when it hit South Florida on Thursday, and rainfall was estimated at up to 20 inches. Risk modeling companies said early estimates of insured damage range from $600 million to $2 billion.

Tropical Depression Twelve - Wednesday 24 August 2005

At 5 am EDT the center of tropical depression twelve was located near 24.0 north 76.4 west or about 95 miles southeast of Nassau and about 270 miles east-southeast of the southeast coast of Florida. The depression is moving toward the northwest near 7 mph and this general motion is expected to continue for the next 24 hours. This motion should bring the center through the central and northwestern Bahamas. Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter indicate that maximum sustained winds were near 35 mph with higher gusts - mainly in squalls to the east of the center. Strengthening was forecast during the next 24 hours.

Tropical Depression Twelve - Tuesday 23 August 2005

By 5 PM EDT on Tuesday 23 August 2005 data from an Air Force Reserve unit reconnaissance aircraft along with observations from the bahamas and nearby ships indicated the broad low pressure area over the southeastern Bahamas had become organized enough to be classified as tropical depression twelve. The initial intensity of 30 KT was based on recon winds of 39 KT at 800 feet and ship A8CI9 reporting 30-kt sustained winds at 18z in the northeast quadrant. Upper-level outflow was weak but improving as a small anticyclone was developing above the low-level center.



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