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Ten Years After Katrina, NOAA Details Extensive Upgrades


For the American meteorological community, the final week of August is a grave time on the calendar. Monday the 24th marked the 23rd anniversary of Hurricane Andrew striking south Florida, killing dozens and causing more than $26 billion in damage. More recently, however, it also marks the date that Katrina first formed as a tropical storm, soon to begin her destructive path through Florida and eventually the Gulf Coast.

Ten years ago, Tropical Depression 10 turned into Tropical Storm Katrina, who would then devastate New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. But as part of the coverage of the 10-year anniversary of the deadliest U.S. hurricane in almost a hundred years, there’s another side of the meteorological tale that needs to be told.

Katrina’s devastation – nearly 2,000 killed, far and away the costliest hurricane in U.S. history – forced massive changes from the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For NOAA, Katrina helped initiate the launch of five weather satellites, major improvements on the U.S. Air Force’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft, drastically improved forecast modeling and restored more than 5,200 acres of coastal land to serve as a better buffer for future storms.

NOAA detailed their lengthy list of improvements in three parts: boosts to observational infrastructure, creating a “Weather-Ready Nation” in conjunction with the National Weather Service, and accelerating upgrades to response teams in the event of a natural disaster.

Disasters often serve as triggers for improvements, and in recognition of the 10-year anniversary of Katrina, NOAA is trying to show what it’s done in the decade since the storm. With the improvements, and there are a lot of them, NOAA hopes future disasters can be better forecast and dealt with.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

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