Monday, August 30, 2010

Hurricane Katrina - 5 Years Ago

Five years goes by very fast even when one of the most devastating natural disasters is concerned.  It was on that Sunday back in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina made landfall over New Orleans. It took a similar track to Hurricane Camille took back in 1969 over New Orleans.  This time, the damage was far more significant; the cleanup and rebuilding continues to this day.

Katrina made landfall over the Florida Keys days before as a tropical storm.

It weakened over Florida and quickly redeveloped into a major hurricane mainly due to the Loop Current, a current of warm water between the Yukatan Peninsula and Cuba.  The same current that was responsible for the steering of the 2010 Oil Spill.  The red color shows the Loop Current with Katrina's track over the top.

Katrina as a major hurricane shortly after intensifying in The Loop Current

Katrina's track from the Florida Keys to its New Orleans landfall is shown in this satellite photo blending several images with the track superimposed.

Katrina was a Category 5 shortly before landfall.  It weakened to a strong Category 3 as it made landfall with at least 80% of the city experiencing Category 1 or 2 level sustained winds. New Orleans was hit with winds of 125 miles per hour.  Below is a closeup high resolution satellite photo of the eye before landfall.

The eye over New Orleans

This graphic shows the level of the city compared to the level of the Gulf of Mexico.  You can understand  why 80% of the city was under water.

It proceeded inland with winds rapidly decreasing as shown below.

Hurricane Katrina's track headed north through Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio as a depression with heavy rains.
The total rainfall from Katrina was incredible across the south. 8 to 10 inches of rain fell across the eastern half of the state with a local report of 15 inches near the Mississippi border.  Amounts of 1 to 2 inches for us in Cleveland were common several days later.
The rainfall swath was similar to the rainfall areas created by the track of Hurricane Camille in 1969.

High winds were reported as far north as Detroit and Cleveland  of over 50 miles per hour.