Hurricane Katrina, A Climatological Perspective October 2005, Updated August 2006 1. Introduction
Hurricane Katrina is the most costly natural disaster ever to strike the United States, and the deadliest since the Lake Okeechobee disaster (hurricane) of September, 1928. In addition, Katrina was one of the strongest storms to impact the coast of the United States during the last 100 years. At landfall, sustained winds were 127 mph (a strong Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale—see Figure 2), and the minimum central pressure was the third lowest on record (920 mb). Katrina caused widespread, massive devastation along the central Gulf Coast states of the U.S. The flooding of New Orleans, LA following the passage of Katrina was catastrophic, resulting in the displacement of more than 250,000 people, a higher number than during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930’s. As of early August 2006, the death toll exceeded 1800 and total damages/costs were estimated to be around $125 billion. For detailed information in addition to this climatological report, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center has an excellent report online:

2. Description and Impacts
2.1 Storm Chronology During August 25-31, 2005, Hurricane Katrina created a path of destruction across southern Florida, and caused devastation into parts of southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The storm then tracked northward into Tennessee and Kentucky and points northeast from there, where heavy rainfall was the main impact of the storm. Katrina began as a tropical depression 175 miles southeast of Nassau on August 23 and strengthened into Tropical Storm Katrina the next day as it moved erratically through the central Bahamas. (See Figure 1 for the path of Katrina.) Katrina began strengthening rapidly and a hurricane watch was issued for southeast Florida at 1700 EDT followed by a hurricane warning by 2300 EDT. Katrina moved slowly westward and became a minimal Category 1 hurricane 15 miles east northeast of Fort Lauderdale at 1700 EDT on August 25. At 1830 EDT, the hurricane made landfall between Hallandale Beach and North Miami Beach with sustained winds estimated at 80 mph and gusts of above 90 mph. Though the storm moved southwest across the tip of the Florida peninsula during the night, Katrina's winds decreased only slightly and it quickly re-intensified shortly after moving over the warm waters of the Gulf. In addition to the gusty winds, heavy rains accompanied Katrina in her trek across Florida. Although the storm over Florida never had sustained winds higher than 80 mph, substantial damage and flooding occurred and fourteen people lost their lives. Katrina moved almost due westward after entering the Gulf of Mexico. A mid-level ridge centered over Texas weakened and moved westward allowing Katrina to gradually turn to the northwest and then north into the weakness in the ridging over the days that followed. Atmospheric and sea-surface conditions (an upper level anticyclone over the Gulf and warm sea


Katrina was only 40 miles southeast of New Orleans with hurricane force winds extending outward up to 125 miles. Hurricane Rita reached an intensity of 897 millibars on September 22. the center was 90 miles south southeast of New Orleans. At 16:00 CDT. Ominously. a hurricane watch was issued by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center for parts of Louisiana at 10:00 CDT on August 27 and a hurricane warning was issued for the north central Gulf from Morgan City eastward to the Alabama / Florida border at 22:00 CDT. which equals the highest ever measured by a National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) buoy. Even an hour later and 2 . Though winds near the center had dropped to 150 mph. By 08:00 CDT.) By this time Katrina was at its peak strength with hurricane force winds extending outward up to 105 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 230 miles.” Katrina advanced toward Louisiana during the night. By 10:00 CDT. the eye of Katrina was making its second northern Gulf coast landfall near the Louisiana – Mississippi border. despite entrainment of dryer air and an opening of the eyewall to the south and southwest. and stated “Some levees in the Greater New Orleans Area could be overtopped. New Orleans Lakefront reported sustained winds of 69 mph with gusts to 86 mph. Three hours later. Belle Chasse reported a gust to 105 mph. and by 04:00 CDT on Monday. Continuing to strengthen. Hurricane Katrina reached Category 5 status with wind speeds of 160 mph and a pressure of 908 millibars. Sustained tropical storm force winds were already battering the southeast Louisiana coast.the 4th lowest on record at that time for an Atlantic storm. located about 50 miles east of the mouth of the Mississippi River. In the dangerous right front quadrant of the storm. The northern eyewall was still reported to be very intense by WSR-88D radar data and the intensity was estimated to be near 121 mph. the 16:00 CDT Bulletin from the National Hurricane Center warned of coastal storm surge flooding of 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels … locally as high as 28 feet. and Hurricane Wilma set a new Atlantic record of 882 mb in October. knocking Katrina’s record to the 6th lowest pressure. Pascagoula Mississippi Civil Defense reported a wind gust to 119 mph and Gulfport Emergency Operations Center reported sustained winds of 94 mph with a gust to 100 mph. By 07:00 CDT on Sunday. which led to Katrina attaining 'major hurricane' status on the afternoon of the 26th. At 06:10 CDT.S. August 29. Katrina’s minimum central pressure dropped to 902 mb . Though the storm was comparable to Camille's intensity. LA and to 85 mph at New Orleans Lakefront. Katrina made landfall in Plaquemines Parish just south of Buras (between Grand Isle and the mouth of the Mississippi River) as a strong Category 3 storm. reported a peak significant wave height of 55 feet at 06:00 CDT. (Note: Later in the season. Landfalling wind speeds were approximately 127 mph with a central pressure of 920 millibars – the 3rd lowest pressure on record for a landfalling storm in the U. Winds at this time were gusting to 96 mph at the Naval Air Station at Belle Chasse. the maximum sustained wind speeds peaked near 175 mph and remained at that speed until the afternoon. NOAA Buoy 42040.surface temperatures – see Figure 7) were conducive to the cyclone's rapid intensification. gusts to hurricane force were occurring along the coast. A little earlier. August 28. it was a significantly larger storm (see Figure 14).

based on various figures including over $100 billion in U. Mobile reported a gust to 83 mph. Mississippi – 238. Florida – 14. with several hundred people still listed as missing. Georgia – 2. The storm was reduced to tropical storm status by 19:00 CDT when the storm was 30 miles northwest of Meridian. AL reported sustained winds of 76 mph with a gust to 102 mph. Figure 1. being topped only by the Galveston hurricane of 1900 (at least 8000 deaths) and the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 (over 2500 deaths). Following is the estimated death toll by state: Louisiana – 1577.far from the center. TN on August 30. MS.S. but the surge from Hurricane Katrina (2005. It was still at hurricane strength 100 miles inland near Laurel. Damage to homes and businesses in both Louisiana and Mississippi was catastrophic. and Pensacola. Alabama – 2. 3 . Dauphin Island. Path and Intensity of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricanes Lili (2002). South of the mainland and east of Louisiana. and became a tropical depression near Clarkesville. The current estimate for overall damages and costs is approximately $125 billion. MS. the strongest and closest to the Chandeleurs) nearly destroyed the island chain. Katrina was the third deadliest hurricane since 1900. The death toll is now estimated as 1833. the Chandeleur Islands have been devastated during recent hurricane seasons. FL reported a gust of 69 mph. Katrina continued to weaken as it moved north northeastward during the remainder of the day. Government expenditures and estimates from Munich Re. Ivan (2004). and Dennis (2005) all did damage.

several factors contributed to the extreme storm surge: a) the massive size of the storm. The surge caused the level of Lake Pontchartrain to rise. Industrial Canal.Figure 2. the approaching storm surge from Hurricane Rita on September 23 caused a new breach in the repaired Industrial Canal levee and many of the areas of the city were flooded again. the legacy of Hurricane Katrina will be the horrific storm surge which accompanied the storm.) Further east in the Gulfport 4 .8 feet at Pass Christian. The damage and high water marks indicate that the surge reached from 6 to as far as 12 miles inland in some areas. b) the strength of the system (Category 5) just prior to landfall. Water poured into the city which sits mostly below sea level. Surges in eastern Louisiana generally ranged from 10 to 19 feet. (See Figure 4 for preliminary USGS river stage height for the Wolf River station west of Landon. Significant failures in the levee system occurred on August 30 on the 17th Street Canal. Even though weakening before landfall. The maximum high water mark observation was 27. several small towns were virtually obliterated and Plaquemines and St. A surge of 24-28 feet was estimated along the western Mississippi coast across a path of about 20 miles. also nearly obliterated towns. Bernard parishes were devastated. to the right of Katrina’s second landfall. Alabama’s coast experienced surges ranging from as high as 10 feet in the east to 15 feet in the west. tapering to a height of 17-22 feet along the eastern MS coast. Surges on the Mississippi coast. c) the 920 mb central pressure at landfall. MS. Though the city was essentially pumped dry by September 20. straining the levee system protecting New Orleans. Sweeping through the delta country southeast of New Orleans. especially along bays and rivers. (See Figure 4 for the preliminary US Geological Survey (USGS) stage height of the Mississippi River at New Orleans). 2.2 Storm Surge Though wind damage was significant. Saffir-Simpson Scale for Hurricane Intensity. MS. 80 percent of all the dwellings were declared uninhabitable. In Waveland. The surge in the Saint Louis Bay area was similar to that accompanying Hurricane Camille in 1969. The Hancock Emergency Operations Center reported an estimated surge level of 27 feet at their location. and London Avenue Canal levees. Eventually 80 percent of the city was underwater at depths of up to 20 feet. and d) the shallow offshore waters.

USGS Before and After Photo in Biloxi. Louis Bridge and the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge. only pylons Figure 3. (See Figure 4 for the USGS stage height for the Biloxi River. 5 . Along the Along much of the spans of the Bay St.and Biloxi areas. MS (courtesy of USGS -http://coastal. Refer to Figure 3 for a before and after photo in Biloxi. the surges were unprecedented.usgs. MS. topping those of Camille by approximately 5 to 10 feet or more.

and 24 feet. along the “mouth” of several rivers—see Figure 4. and Biloxi Rivers are 22. and levee breaks. Note that these data are showing the surge of water from the Gulf of Mexico into the entrance zone for each river into the Gulf. 13. respectively. The rises (from previous levels) for the Wolf.usgs. 6 . rainfall.The USGS has river gauge data online ( which provides a good perspective on the impact of the surge. Mississippi.

1 10. and Levee Breaks. were not the main impact of the storm.43 -80. New Orleans.85 RAINFALL 6.58 -80.05 -80.3 Rainfall Data The rainfall amounts from Katrina.55 25.1 8.58 25. for locations with at least six inches of rain.63 25.6 6.69 27.6 9. at Landon.99 -80.61 LON -87.7 9.33 -80. The data were provided by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. and many stations along the immediate Gulf coast are not listed for this reason.73 25.38 -80.6 16.4 12.33 -81.7 9. STATION NAME RED_BAY_12_NNE PERRINE_5_WSW HOMESTEAD HOMESTEAD_5_W FLORIDA_CITY_8_SSW CUTLER_RIDGE_3_SSE KEY_WEST CUTLER_RIDGE_3_NE MARATHON MIAMI RICHMOND_HEIGHTS_13_W SWEETWATER_14_WSW PORT_SALERNO_9_WSW HOMESTEAD_24_NW ID CCTA1 PRRF1 HST HGAF1 SDAF1 BCPF1 EYW CTRF1 MTH TMB CHKF1 SHAF1 PTSF1 ENPF1 STATE AL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL LAT 34.63 -80.54 24. The table below shows the preliminary storm totals (in inches) for the period affected by Katrina (August 24-30. some totals are incomplete. USGS River Gauge Data Showing Affects of Katrina’s Storm Surge.56 -80. Rainfall.53 -80.1 7 .3 11. 2005).61 24.3 14.48 25.09 25. Please note that due to the affects of the storm.31 -81.4 9.6 14. though rather high in some places.48 25.33 25.56 25.65 25.6 6.44 -80. and Wortham.Figure 4.76 -80. 2.

95 38.9 11.9 10.28 37.2 7.51 30.73 30.0 6.39 34.05 31.75 37.17 -89.10 -89.86 -90.63 30.47 -88.88 -87.9 9.21 34.80 36.5 8.8 6.09 34.74 -90.5 7.10 30.40 38.1 7.52 37.62 -89.57 30.10 6.4 7.CUTLER_RIDGE_4_S MOUNT_VERNON POSEYVILLE HOPKINSVILLE_4_SW COBB FINNEY ABERDEEN BARDSTOWN BOWLING_GREEN DAM_49_UNION NOLIN BOSTON_6_SW PROVIDENCE BROOKSVILLE_2_SW BIG_BRANCH NEW_ORLEANS LAPLACE_5_NE HAMMOND_5_E NATALBANY BUSH PEARL_RIVER KENNER COVINGTON COVINGTON VENICE VENICE SLIDELL_10_SSW NEW_ORLEANS COVINGTON FRANKLINTON DULAC_5_E YCLOSKEY COVINGTON_7_NW NECAISE_1_N HANCOCK TROY_2_SE SARAH_1_W NOXAPATER_1_N COLUMBIA_6_WSW IUKA_5_S CAESAR_3_WSW WIGGINS_6_E HOLCUT ACKERMAN_3_SE HATTIESBURG KOSCIUSKO BROOKLYN_1_SW KOSCIUSKO_13_SE CONEHATTA PHILADELPHIA_5_N BBBF1 MTVI3 POSI3 HOPK2 CBBK2 BRRK2 ABEK2 BTNK2 BWG UNWK2 NOLK2 BOSK2 PDNK2 PWVK2 NORL1 WSLL1 ROBL1 BSHL1 PERL1 CVEL1 CUSL1 VNCL1 BVE LIBL1 MSY FRNL1 PCDL1 BLYL1 CGSL1 NNHM6 TROM6 SARM6 NXPM6 RMAM6 IKAM6 CREM6 BLCM6 HCTM6 TNFM6 HBG KOSM6 BKNM6 KSOM6 PLAM6 FL IN IN KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS 25.60 -89.56 30.98 -86.58 33.7 8 .69 -90.55 -87.20 -89.80 37.13 30.6 12.84 29.8 7.8 7.90 -89.2 6.11 -90.1 7.48 -89.02 31.48 30.86 -90.7 9.3 9.5 7.35 -89.25 -89.85 36.90 37.7 7.2 8.6 7.2 7.23 -90.41 -89.1 14.6 8.27 -89.98 36.5 6.8 8.65 30.5 10.99 30.84 30.6 8.8 6.2 7.42 -87.1 6.55 29.77 -84.1 7.3 8.05 -89.46 32.15 -89.92 -88.17 36.3 6.42 -90.93 -90.1 7.26 -90.85 34.98 32.1 8.39 30.62 30.75 -87.55 30.8 13.09 -90.33 30.84 -80.78 -87.96 37.78 -86.59 -89.93 30.48 30.42 -89.22 -89.47 -86.14 -89.14 -90.0 7.8 8.39 -89.23 37.1 9.18 -89.13 -86.28 31.8 6.5 6.03 -88.25 -85.9 11.36 -90.68 -85.35 -87.28 29.6 6.6 9.14 29.05 32.9 6.30 -89.49 29.16 -90.8 6.8 9.39 29.0 10.27 33.73 33.

52 -82.12 -86.33 -89.27 -82.24 35.73 32.76 32.2 6.5 6.38 -90.1 6.37 -88.30 -82.49 -89.31 32. Heaviest rainfall occurred in southeast Louisiana.99 36.50 36.0 6.0 7.35 40. then across parts of Mississippi.52 -90.92 35.53 -89.53 30.43 -86.56 -86.05 38.58 34.75 -89.57 -88.83 34.91 -88.65 -89.2 6.32 -86.16 -83. 9 .43 -88.90 32.86 34.45 36.89 -88.4 6.FOREST_7_N PHILADELPHIA_3_SSE YAZOO_CITY_5_NNE YAZOO_CITY BRUCE_2_W DENNIS_6_WSW WIGGINS_13_E ABERDEEN ARKABUTLA EDINBURG SANFORD LAUREL_17_SE THREE_RIVERS CORINTH BLACK_MOUNTAIN_10_NNE NASHVILLE PHARISBURG NEWARK GEORGETOWN_2_NE MASTEN_1_S OBION_2_SW FAIRVIEW WHITE_HOUSE_1_S DYERSBURG_10_W BETHPAGE_1_S SPRINGFIELD_3_SE COLLINWOOD BOGOTA ORLINDA WINFIELD FSTM6 RNEM6 YAZM6 BRUM6 DNNM6 WGAM6 ABEM6 ARKM6 ENBM6 OKCM6 LAUM6 PCBM6 CORM6 MMTN7 NSHO1 PBGO1 NWKO1 BCAO1 MASP1 OBNT1 FBNT1 WHST1 MGLT1 BETT1 SPRT1 CLLT1 BOGT1 ODAT1 WINW2 MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS MS NC OH OH OH OH PA TN TN TN TN TN TN TN TN TN WV 32.41 -89.10 -90.76 40.2 6.5 6.2 6.6 6.47 36.61 40.89 -76.39 -83.82 -89.0 7.17 36.0 Figure 5 from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center provides a general picture of the rainfall amounts.2 6.22 -87.88 41.1 6. western Tennessee.13 36.0 6.32 -88.0 6.00 34.5 6.0 6.83 -87.49 31.52 30.3 6.70 -81.0 6.3 6.5 6.3 6.1 6.2 6.47 35.12 -89. and western Kentucky.4 6.92 6.5 6.9 6.3 6.60 38.85 33.80 31.05 36.

due to the size of the storm.4 High Winds Very high winds occurred along a rather large swath in Katrina’s path. 2. due to the severe affects of the storm.Figure 5. many reporting stations in the areas of highest 10 . Preliminary Estimate of Rainfall Amounts Associated with Katrina. However. with highest winds in the eyewall near landfall. especially in the right-front quadrant.

59 24.87 -89.66 -80. NEXRAD radial velocity data indicated peak winds near the surface of around 140 mph in the eyewall at time of landfall.20 -88.80 -80. The tables below show the peak wind gusts recorded by land stations (first table) along with Coastal Marine (CMAN) and buoy stations (second table). Wind Gust (mph) 83 79 82 80 78 74 71 69 68 66 64 64 60 86 90 80 Wind Gust (mph) 114 105 101 98 89 83 80 79 79 79 77 77 72 69 62 Station ID MOB BFM FLL TMB MIA EYW NPA PNS OPF FXE BCT PMP HRT NEW BIX NMM Station Name MOBILE/BATES FIELD MOBILE DOWNTOWN FT LAUDERDALE/HOLLY MIAMI/KENDALL-TAMIA MIAMI INTL AIRPORT KEY WEST INTL ARPT PENSACOLA NAS PENSACOLA REGIONAL MIAMI/OPA LOCKA FORT LAUDERDALE BOCA RATON AIRPORT POMPANO BEACH HURLBURT FIELD (AF) NEW ORLEANS/LAKEFRO KEESLER AFB/BILOXI MERIDIAN NAS/MCCAIN State AL AL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL FL LA MS MS CMAN or Buoy ID GDIL1 DRYF1 BURL1 DPIA1 42003 42040 42007 FWYF1 SMKF1 TAML1 MLRF1 SANF1 42001 LONF1 LUML1 Lat 29.25 26.43 -88.27 24.89 30.11 -90.10 25.70 -80.01 24.winds did not observe/report observations during the time of maximum winds.37 -81.84 29.62 29.86 -90.19 25.06 -85.63 28. Figure 6 provides a map of the estimated maximum wind gusts.09 -81.20 30.45 25.25 Lon -89.95 -82.90 -88.80 24.00 29. for locations which recorded speeds of at least 60 mph.86 -89.66 11 .

using the 200 mb to 850 mb zonal shear anomaly for the month of August 2005. As shown in Figure 8.Figure 6. Also. with negative zonal shear anomalies. Also. This pattern is similar to that observed across global land and ocean surfaces. Preliminary Observations for Maximum Wind Gusts Associated with Katrina. which allowed for the storm to develop quickly. and the warm temperatures extended to a considerable depth through the upper ocean layer. Figure 9 illustrates the wind shear in the area. Katrina crossed the “loop current” (belt of even warmer water). 12 . during which time explosive intensification occurred. 3. The temperature of the ocean surface is a critical element in the formation and strength of hurricanes. Contributing Factors A number of factors contributed to making Katrina a strong Category 5 hurricane (though weakening to Category 3 just prior to landfall). 1976-present). Sea surface temperatures (SST) in the Gulf of Mexico were one to two degrees Celsius above normal (see Figure 7). there has been an overall increasing trend in July-September Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico SSTs during the past 100 years marked by two distinct periods of increasing temperatures (1910-1945. vertical wind shear was less than normal.

Gulf of Mexico SST Anomaly (Departure from Normal) During Katrina’s Development. 13 .Figure 7.

for the Gulf of Mexico (top graph) and Atlantic (bottom graph). (Smith and Reynolds. 14 . July – September SST Anomalies for 1880-Present. 2004 with updates).Figure 8.

along with NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) and Polarorbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) images. Views Via Remote Sensing Satellite and radar images of Katrina provide an excellent view of the storm from space and as seen by local NEXRAD sites along the Gulf coast. These images include NEXRAD reflectivity from New Orleans and Mobile. Although Katrina weakened somewhat just prior to landfall. 200 mb to 850 mb Zonal Wind Shear Anomaly for August 2005. 15 . along with the shape and ocean water depth along the coastline.Figure 9. as the heavy rain and thunderstorms transfer momentum from the level of highest winds (above the surface) down closer to the surface. as the “buildup” of the ocean surface not only relates to storm strength but storm duration and size. the height and extent of the storm surge was not affected much by this trend. Figures 10-13 show the very well organized nature of the storm. 4. The heaviest bands of rainfall shown on radar coincide with the strongest wind gusts at the surface.

16 . Figure 14 shows a satellite comparison of Camille vs Katrina. which provides a good perspective of Katrina’s large size.Finally.

NEXRAD Images Prior to. and After Landfall.Figure 10. 17 . During.

Figure 11. GOES-12 Visible Image of Katrina. 18 .

Figure 12. 19 . NOAA-18 (Polar Orbiter) Image of Katrina.

Figure 14. GOES-12 Colorized Infrared Image of Katrina. Side-by-side Images of Camille (left) vs Katrina (right). 20 .Figure 13.

along with considerable flood damage in the states of Georgia. Total damage was $1. a category 5 storm.S. South Carolina. was not the most intense U. stretching only 75 miles from the center of the storm. Hurricane Andrew: Prior to 2005. has had wind speeds estimated to be higher: the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 that struck the Florida Keys with sustained winds approaching 200 mph. which equates to approximately $8. Only one hurricane to make landfall in the U. this Category 4 hurricane made landfall in southwest Florida. was Hurricane Andrew.S. with at least 35 deaths. Andrew moved northwest across the Gulf of Mexico to make a second landfall in a sparsely populated area of south-central Louisiana as a Category 3 storm.2 feet. The smaller size of this category 5 hurricane resulted in damage that was more localized than that from Katrina.42 billion in 1969. this Category 2 hurricane made landfall in east-central Florida. are briefly discussed below. along with 168 fatalities from direct and indirect causes related to the hurricanes. which made landfall in southern Florida in 1992. as well as 4 major hurricanes in 2004 that led to the most costly hurricane season on record at the time. Hurricane Camille.S. causing significant wind. The storm was an extremely strong Category 5 hurricane which caused 144 deaths in Mississippi and Louisiana and another 112 flood-related deaths in Virginia where up to 27 inches of rain fell within about 8 hours. Although Hurricane Camille took a path similar to Hurricane Katrina. and flooding damage in Florida. along with some damage in the states of South Carolina and North Carolina. These storms. Historical Perspective 5. while likely being the most costly hurricane on record.5. The total damages exceeded $15 billion. resulting in major wind and some storm surge damage in Florida. Landfalling hurricanes in 2004 created approximately $45 billion in estimated losses in the U. due to 5 to 15-inch rains. 21 .S (after the 1935 Florida Keys Labor Day storm and Hurricane Camille in 1969). and its estimated maximum wind speeds were greater than those of Katrina. as compared to well over 100 miles for Katrina. Total damages equate to approximately $43. with at least 48 deaths. See Figure 14 for satellite images of Katrina vs Camille. Hurricane Camille: Hurricane Camille ravaged the Mississippi coastline when it made landfall on the night of August 17. storm surge. 1969 with winds approaching 190 mph and a storm surge of 24. the most costly hurricane to strike the U. which is the third lowest on record for a landfalling hurricane in the U.S. The central pressure was 922 millibars. which made landfall in southern Florida south of Miami on August 24. Maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were estimated at 165 mph. North Carolina..9 billion when adjusted for inflation. was a much stronger storm when it made landfall along the Mississippi coast in 1969. prior to Katrina was Hurricane Andrew. landfalling hurricane. The most costly hurricane to strike the U. The total damages exceeded $9 billion.1 Previous Hurricanes Hurricane Katrina.S. Hurricane Frances: In September 2004. and New York.7 billion when adjusted for inflation. After striking Florida. Hurricane Charley: In August 2004. the extent of hurricane force winds was much less. which followed a similar path to Katrina. It caused $25 billion damage in Florida and was the most expensive of all natural disasters in United States history until Hurricane Katrina. 1992.

LA and Mobile. Virginia. Sullivan. 1740 (A week later) Fall. South Carolina. Kentucky. storm surge.http://www. LA and Mobile. along with wind/flood damage in the states of Georgia. Hurricane Jeanne: In September 2004. North Carolina. 1778 August. 1780 August. 1852 September 15-17. Pennsylvania. this Category 3 hurricane made landfall in east-central Florida. 1812 July. 1848 August 19-30. The estimated damages exceeded $7 billion. 1855 September 15-18. with significant wind. Delaware. and there were at least 57 deaths. West Virginia. with some flood damage also in the states of Georgia. Delaware. Literature sites additional storms prior to the 20th Century but little information is available to confirm these events (Ludlum. South Carolina. and New York. The estimated damages exceeded $14 billion. along with Puerto Rico. 1722 September. and flooding damage in coastal Alabama and the Florida panhandle.National Climatic Data Center -. 45 hurricanes made landfall between Houma. causing considerable wind.ncdc. and there were at least 28 deaths. New Jersey. 1740 (Mid-month) September.2 Hurricanes Along the Central Gulf Coast The central Gulf Coast has been impacted by a large number of topical cyclones over the years. Ohio. 1794 .National Climatic Data Center -http://www. storm surge. 1860 Category Hurricane Name Major Hurricane Major Hurricane Hurricane Major Hurricane Hurricane 22 .noaa. and New AL. Hurricanes that have made landfall between Houma. 1998). and flooding damage in Florida.noaa. The area has also felt the affects of several more hurricanes and tropical storms that have passed or made landfall nearby. see: .html 5. Tennessee. 1722 to 2005 Date September.nhc. 1779 August.noaa. New Jersey. AL (see table below). Maryland. Louisiana. From 1722-2005.shtml . Mississippi. 1963. and Roth. 1831 August. Maryland. 1986.Hurricane Ivan: In September 2004. this Category 3 hurricane made landfall on the Gulf coast of Alabama.ncdc. 1859 August 8-16. 1746 August/September. North Carolina. 1860 September 11-16. 1819 September. For additional information and statistics on historic storms. 1772 October. 1821 August. Virginia.National Hurricane Center – http://www.

1893 August 2-18. 1988 July 16-26. Figure 15 shows the recent upward trend. 1906 September 10-21. 1912 September 22 – October 1. Of course. 1947 September 1-6. 1997 September 15 – October 1. 1889 September 27 – October 5. 1915 June 29 – July 10. from 1960 through 2005. 1870 September 14-21.3 Indices and Trends The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index is one method to describe trends in tropical cyclone activity. along with the strength of each storm.30. 1956 September 14-17.October 2-9. This index uses a combination of the tropical cyclone’s duration in a particular ocean basin. Figures 16-17 show the number of tropical cyclones. 1960 August 26 – September 12. 1979 August 27 – September 4. 1985 September 7-11. which appears to be part of a long-term cycle in activity. 1909 September 11-14. 1916 August 26 – September 3. 1948 August 20 – September 1. and number of days with hurricanes. 1877 October 9-22. 1965 August 14-22. with the 1950’s-1960’s also being an active period. 1901 September 19-30. number of hurricane-days. 1998 Hurricane Hurricane Hurricane Hurricane Hurricane Major Hurricane 2 3 4 1 4 3 1 3 1 1 2 1 3 5 1 3 3 1 1 1 Baker Flossy Ethel Betsy Camille Bob Frederic Elena Florence Danny Georges 5. 1867 July 30. 1979 August 29 – September 14. 1932 September 4-21. there was much less commercial and residential development along our coastlines. during that time. 1969 July 9-16. 1950 September 21. 23 . 1887 September 11-26.

Figure 15. Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) for 1960 through 2005. 24 .

Number of Tropical Cyclones by Year for 1960 through 2005. 25 .Figure 16.

ncdc.nhc.noaa. Additional Resources NWS NWS Mobile/Pensacola images of Katrina Damage: http://www.fema.htm USGS photos and other information: 26 .html National Climatic Data Center - National Hurricane Center – http://www. Number of Hurricane Days and Days with Hurricanes.Figure 17.usgs. MS images of Katrina Damage: National Climatic Data Center FEMA Photo Library: http://www.noaa. NOAA hurricane hunter images of Katrina: NOAA aerial photos of Katrina damage: http://www.photolibrary. 1960 through

Sullivan. 1963. Asheville. Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean. 139 p.2004. LA.p. NOAA. 1986. 1717 to Present. References Ludlum. [http://www. 1851.L. 2466-2477. D.M. 2005. 206 p. 2004: Improved extended reconstruction of SST (1854-1997). Early American Hurricanes. NC.p. Journal of climate. 17 (12). Reynolds. MA.htm] NOAA. National Climatic Data Center.ncdc. 1998. NOAA.html] Roth.M. Gulf Publishing Company – The Sun Herald. [ Soc. 1999. [http://www. 198 p. 2005. Louisiana Hurricanes. Amer. Lake Charles.7. Track Maps. 1492-1870. Historical Climatology Series 6-2.aoml. C. Boston. and R.htm] Smith. Met. D. 27 . Hurricanes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 1901-2003 United States Landfalling Hurricanes. National Climatic Data NOAA National Weather Service. 1871-1998.noaa. T.W. Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory Reanalysis Project.