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On This Date in 2005, Hurricane Katrina Makes Landfall

29 Aug 2017, 3:30 pm

12 years ago today, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history struck: Hurricane Katrina. Killing close to 2,000 people and costing, by some estimates, nearly 150 billion dollars, this hurricane gave new meaning to the word devastation for millions of Americans.

Here’s a look back to the Katrina timeline:

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005: Tropical Depression 12 strengthens into Tropical Storm Katrina on the way to Florida.

The following Thursday, Katrina becomes a Category 1 hurricane, just two hours before hitting Florida. During its six hours over land, the storm is responsible for 14 deaths and more than 600 million dollars in damage. Then, Katrina is back to tropical storm strength in the Gulf.

On Friday morning, with Katrina back to Category 1 status, the National Hurricane Center shifts the possible track from the Florida Panhandle to the Mississippi/Louisiana border area and Governor Kathleen Blanco declares a state of emergency for Louisiana. Federal troops are deployed to coordinate with FEMA. At 5 p.m., Katrina is a Category 2 storm.

Saturday morning, Katrina is now a Category 3 hurricane and officials in multiple Louisiana parishes issue evacuation notices. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announces a state of emergency that evening and calls for a voluntary evacuation of the city. Governor Blanco asks President George W. Bush to declare a major disaster for the state of Louisiana and he does.

Sunday, just after midnight, Katrina reaches Category 4 intensity with 145 mph winds. By 7 a.m., it’s a Category 5 with winds reaching 175 mph. In a 10 a.m. press conference, Mayor Nagin announces a mandatory evacuation order for New Orleans, saying “We’re facing the storm most of us have feared”. At that same time, the National Weather Service in New Orleans issues a bulletin predicting “devastating” damage to the area. Now, the Superdome opens as a, “refuge of last resort,” and around 20,000 people go there. The Louisiana National Guard has brought enough food and water to cover 15,000 people for three days.

Monday, August 29th, 2005: At 6:10 a.m. Hurricane Katrina makes landfall as a Category 3 hurricane at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, with sustained winds of more than 125 mph and a devastating 25 foot storm surge. By 8 a.m. in New Orleans, water is rising on both sides of the Industrial Canal and the National Weather Service issues a Flash Flood Warning, announcing a levee breach at the Industrial Canal. The advice for people in the area is, “move to higher ground immediately”. By 9 a.m. there is six to eight feet of water in the Lower Ninth Ward. By 11 a.m. there is around ten feet of water in St. Bernard Parish and many rooftops can’t be seen because they’re under water.

New Orleans Homeland Security Director Terry Ebbertt says he’s positive there are casualties, based on emergency calls from people stuck in trees and trapped in homes. He says, “Everybody who had a way or wanted to get out of the way of this storm was able to. For some that didn’t, it was their last night on this earth.”

And that was just the beginning of a true long-lasting nightmare scenario directly affecting Mississippi and Louisiana and affecting the rest of our country indirectly in many ways, to this day.

You can read the full report from the National Hurricane Center here.

First posting from John Van Pelt

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Mace Michaels

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