Hurricane Katrina is the most destructive hurricane in U.S. history, which occurred in late August 2005. It reached magnitude 5 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, making it the sixth strongest Atlantic Basin hurricane on record.
The most severe damage from Hurricane Katrina was caused to New Orleans in Louisiana, where about 80% of the city area was under water, and about 700,000 people lost their homes . The natural disaster was accompanied by man-made accidents, oil spills, as well as an increase in crime and lawlessness.
Chronology of a Catastrophe
August 25, 2005
Storm Katrina formed in the Bahamas. It began to move rapidly north and grew stronger to the strength of a tropical hurricane.
The hurricane reached the coast on August 23 at a speed of 80 miles per hour. Katrina’s power was expected to increase, but meteorologists reported that wind speeds had dropped to seventy miles per hour.
Then Tropical Storm Katrina strengthened again to the level of a small hurricane. On August 25, the National Hurricane Center in Miami assigned Hurricane Katrina the first, lowest category of force on the US five-point scale. Due to the approach of tropical hurricane Katrina to the east coast of Florida (USA), all passenger flights were canceled at Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports for the next day. According to weather forecasts, the Katrina’s main strike was to come late in the evening of August 25 or on the morning of the 26th local time on the coast of Florida in the Miami region with a length of 260 kilometers, where an official storm warning was issued on November 24 in the evening. About five million people live in this area. The Governor of Florida has declared a state of emergency throughout the state. At that moment, the wind speed at the Katrina epicenter was 75 miles per hour, then increased to 120 km / h.
During that period, Hurricane Katrina was moving “relatively slowly”, which is why it was then assigned only the lowest first category.
August 26, 2005
Katrina hit a densely populated stretch of coastline between Hallandale Beach and North Miami Beach. In the zone of action of the hurricane, wind gusts reached 130 km / h, and the wave height reaches 4.5 meters. Heavy winds tore down power lines.
The hurricane was accompanied by significant rainfall. Three (according to other sources, four) people have already become victims of the hurricane in Fort Lauderlade, Plantation and Cooper City. Then it became known about seven dead. A 25-year-old man died when a high-voltage cable, torn by a fallen tree, fell on his car. Another young man was crushed by a fallen tree. The third, who was driving his car, crashed into a tree while trying to avoid blockages on the road.
Another five, members of the Larsen family, a family with three school-age children, were reported missing. Later they were discovered on an island surrounded by water on all sides. Rescuers spotted Edward and Bettina Larsen along with three children while flying over the affected area 25km north of the tip of Florida.
According to the state energy company, more than 700 (1000 or more according to other sources) thousand people were left without electricity. The hurricane also brought down a flyover under construction on Florida Highway 836 west of Miami. Damage from Hurricane Katrina, which hit Florida, according to preliminary estimates by independent experts, was estimated at that time from $600 million to $2 billion.
The hurricane reached the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on the morning of November 26. By two o’clock East Coast time, Katrina’s center was directly above the Gulf, forty miles southwest of the Marco Islands and sixty miles northeast of Key West.
Long-term monitoring from the National Hurricane Center indicated that Katrina was expected to hit the coast a second time on August 27 in the evening and early in the morning of August 30. “We’re extremely concerned that the hurricane is moving deep into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Max Mayfield, director of the center.
Already on August 25, expectations of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico pushed oil prices to a new high. Contracts for the supply of Texas oil in the morning trading on Friday reached $68 per barrel. Recall that the lion’s share of the oil consumed in America is produced there.
Knee-deep in water – this is what Miami looked like, one of the largest seaports in Florida. Hurricane Katrina was then raging in the Gulf of Mexico. The streets of the city were flooded, trees blown down by the storm and road signs were everywhere. Schools closed, airports closed. Local authorities opened shelters that provided first aid and shelter to victims. People are forced to swim across.
August 27, 2005
Authorities in several southeastern US states have issued a storm warning in connection with the approach of Hurricane Katrina.
Specialists from the National Hurricane Center in Miami / Florida / reported that the hurricane over the past night, passing over the Gulf of Mexico, has grown significantly stronger, and now scientists have assigned it a third category of danger on a five-point scale. The strength of the wind “Katrina” then reached 185 km /. The epicenter of the hurricane, which continued to move westward at a speed of about 11 km / h, was then about 350 km west of Key West. And many areas of Florida are still in the water. As experts expected, Katrina was supposed to hit the United States again in the area between the states of Louisiana and Florida.
Residents of low-lying areas were asked to evacuate. The authorities recommended that tourists leave the coastal zone, and local residents – to strengthen their homes, prepare supplies of drinking water and fuel.
Later, US President George W. Bush declared Louisiana a disaster area.
Queues at gas stations and essential goods were swept from the shelves of still working supermarkets. Signs have already begun to appear on the doors of stores: “We are closed from today and probably until Tuesday. It all depends on the weather. Say “thank you” to Katrina.”
Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has fallen by more than a third due to the approaching Hurricane Katrina. The United States produces in the Gulf of Mexico about a quarter of all oil and gas extracted in the country: the volume of production of “black gold” reaches approximately 1.5 million barrels per day, and gas – 12.3 billion cubic meters per day. On Saturday, oil companies had to reduce oil production by 563,000 barrels per day, gas production – by 1.9 billion cubic meters per day.
August 28, 2005
The mayor of the capital city of the US state of Louisiana New Orleans, located below sea level and with a population of half a million people, Ray Nagin ordered the forced evacuation of residents in connection with the impending hurricane Katrina, which was already assigned the 5th, highest category. The wind force in the center of the hurricane reached 260-280 km per hour.
Louisiana residents began to leave their homes. The streets of New Orleans were in turmoil. Residents abandoned their houses, got into cars and rushed out of the city – however, this disorderly flight led to unprecedented traffic jams on major highways, cars stand close, the traffic flow moves very slowly. For those who could not be evacuated due to health reasons, ten fortified shelters were prepared, including a shelter at the Superdome indoor stadium, which can accommodate up to 15,000 people. Three elderly people have died in Louisiana. People did not survive the evacuation: one person died in the church, another on the bus, and the third in the hospital.
According to meteorologists, the states of Mississippi, Florida, Alabama and Louisiana were also supposed to be in the way of Katrina. Here, too, a state of emergency was declared. Residents of the coastal regions of Mississippi began to leave their homes. It was no longer possible to find free rooms in any of the hotels in the interior – they were all booked in advance for several days before.
In the Gulf of Mexico, all work on oil platforms was completely stopped, the port was closed.
August 29, 05
In the morning, in electronic trading on the New York Stock Exchange, oil futures prices exceeded $70 per barrel.
Katrina somewhat changed its course and took a little east of the trajectory that the scientists drew for it. As a result, the main blow fell not on New Orleans, but on the coastal regions of the states of Louisiana and Mississippi. And yet the situation in the city is dramatic. Children floating on mattresses through the streets of their city, people wandering through the rooms of houses whose roofs were blown off.
About 10,000 residents of New Orleans took refuge in the local closed stadium “Superdome”, which turned into a single island in the middle of the water pouring into the city – a kind of Noah’s Ark. The entrance to it was open since Sunday noon, and at half past twelve at night, with the onset of curfew, its gates were closed.
During the hurricane, roof fragments were blown off the largest Superdome stadium. Two through holes were formed in the roof through which water flowed.
People had to free five sectors in the stands of the stadium, but there was no panic among them.
The US National Weather Service, monitoring the progress of Hurricane Katrina, reported “total structural destruction” in a number of city blocks in New Orleans, Louisiana. Many buildings in the city have lost their roofs and windows, the streets are strewn with debris. Severe flooding was noted in the port area. In the Territown area of New Orleans, on Wright Avenue, an apartment building with people inside collapsed due to Hurricane Katrina. More than 400 thousand families were left without electricity.
A protective dam broke in the “Industrial Canal” area on Tennessee Street, causing flooding in the area.
The height of the waves that Katrina brought with her reached 8.5 meters in some areas of the city. Due to the lack of electricity, all pumping stations stopped.
Looting has been reported in New Orleans. Groups of criminals of several dozen people each took away abandoned property from shops, offices and residential buildings.
The epicenter of the hurricane began to move towards the city of Biloxi (Mississippi), in which the power supply had already been cut off. Now there is almost nothing left of it. A 9-meter wave hit the city, eyewitnesses say. The US Navy sent its ships to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi.
Curfews have been declared in two coastal counties in the southern United States – Mobile and Baldwin.
Water, the depth of which in some places reaches six to seven meters, flooded the coastal regions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama seven to ten kilometers from the usual coastline. Rescuers and national guards with the help of helicopters removed from the roofs of houses those who did not have time to evacuate from the disaster area in time. More than 1.3 million homes and other buildings lost power. 5 people have been confirmed dead.
During Hurricane Katrina, an oil rig in Mobile Bay, Alabama, broke anchor and crashed into a bridge. Two more platforms drifted in the Gulf of Mexico.
August 30, 2005
The hurricane has significantly weakened, turned into a cyclone, accompanied by tropical rain, and moves towards the central and northern states.
According to preliminary data, in Harrison County (Mississippi) alone, as a result of the impact of Hurricane Katrina, the death toll has already reached 50 people and may reach 80 people. There are about 65 dead in New Orleans.
Numerous airports in the US states hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina have not yet reopened for safety reasons.
Major airports in New Orleans (Louisiana), Mobile (Alabama) and Pensacola (Florida) did not operate. All of them usually serve not only domestic but also international flights. In addition, it was decided to close a number of less significant airports that receive domestic flights.
Martial law has been declared in yet another area of New Orleans. Earlier martial law was declared in downtown Jefferson Parish.
National Guard troops and military police units were called to New Orleans to assist with search and rescue efforts and provide security in areas where water continued to slowly rise. The day after Hurricane Katrina, a dam on a New Orleans canal collapsed. As a result, streams of water from Lake Pontchartrain poured into the streets of the city. The authorities began to strengthen the protective dams, through the cracks in which water constantly arrived. 80% of the territory of New Orleans was still flooded with water, which in some places stood at a level of 7 meters. Those who refused or were unable to leave the city in advance now had to be rescued. People were filmed from the roofs of houses and treetops, evacuated by helicopters to specially created shelters. In the city, at least 30 buildings collapsed as a result of the hurricane, there was no electricity, no drinking water, and food supplies were running out. Puffs of smoke were visible in some areas. The biggest problem for the authorities was the lack of communication.
Water supply and sewerage systems were destroyed in all the affected areas, and there were accidents on power lines. According to experts, the damage from the hurricane could reach $25 billion.
August 31, 2005
Oil prices reached a record $70.85 per barrel, gasoline rose by 20%, gas – by 4.7%. Cotton rose 2.3% due to concerns about the harvest in the US South. The price of copper also rose.
Hundreds of kilometers of flooded land and devastation were left behind by the gradually weakening Katrina. The most devastating blow was inflicted on the city of Biloxi in Mississippi. In New Orleans, an operation began to evacuate about 30 thousand people from the sports complex. At the same time, water from Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans practically ceased to flow into the city, the water level in the lake began to slowly subside.
September 3, 2005 The first official data on the death toll from the hurricane in New Orleans are published. Officially, 196 people are considered dead due to Hurricane Katrina. That is how many bodies were delivered to the city morgues over the past few days. Damage from Katrina is estimated by experts at $100 billion. The US Parliament, which has already allocated 10.5 billion dollars to help the victims.
September 4, 2005
The American authorities finally managed to evacuate almost all people from the flooded New Orleans.
September 5, 2005
According to preliminary estimates, 218 people became victims of the elements, and in New Orleans this number was 59 people.
September 8, 2005
More than 300 people were killed in Mississippi by Hurricane Katrina, state governor Hayley Barbour said.
Victims and destruction
Formed on August 23 in the Bahamas, the hurricane reached the fifth – highest – category of danger by August 25. However, two days later, passing off the coast of Florida near Miami, it weakened to the fourth, and then to the third category. On August 29, the hurricane made landfall in the US states of Louisiana and Mississippi; southern Alabama, western Georgia, and part of the state of Florida also fell into its coverage area. The wind speed reached 200 km/h.
The greatest damage was done to the city of New Orleans in Louisiana. Despite the evacuation carried out the day before, up to 20% of the population remained in the city – about 150 thousand people, mostly black residents of poor neighborhoods. Katrina broke through the defenses, after which about 80% of the city’s area was under water, up to 240 thousand buildings were destroyed and damaged. The exact number of deaths as a result of the impact of the cyclone and the subsequent flooding has not been established.
According to the National Hurricane Center, a total of 1,836 people died due to the rampant elements in the United States, including 1,577 people in Louisiana. According to a study by the Louisiana Department of Health, up to 1,170 people died in the state, while it was noted that 47% of them died from acute or chronic diseases, 33% drowned; 47% of those who died were elderly people over the age of 75. Currently, 135 people are officially listed as missing (according to unofficial data, the number of missing people may reach 500). From 800 thousand to 1 million people became forced migrants.
State of emergency
In early September 2005, during rescue operations in New Orleans, cases of looting, criminal and police violence were recorded. A state of emergency was introduced in the city, the National Guard (about 58 thousand people), the Coast Guard and the US Army were involved in the rescue operation and law enforcement activities. Subsequently, politicians, public figures and media representatives criticized the administration of President George W. Bush for shortcomings and mistakes made in the preparation for the disaster strike and subsequent disaster recovery.
Prior to Katrina’s arrival, New Orleans had a population of 445,000. According to the United States Census Bureau, 384,320 people lived in the city in 2014. Part of the areas affected by the hurricane and flooding has not been restored.
In addition to New Orleans, communities along the Mississippi and Alabama coasts suffered significant damage. The American oil and gas complex was seriously damaged: at least 30 oil platforms and drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico were destroyed. The total economic damage from the hurricane amounted, according to various estimates, from $108 to $150 billion. The US Congress allocated $105 billion to restore the affected areas.
In early May 2015, a court in Washington held the US government liable for part of the flood damage in New Orleans. All previous similar claims against the US government were rejected by the courts. The judge ruled that the flooding of certain areas of New Orleans and its suburbs due to the breach of the levee system is tantamount to expropriation by the US federal government of the private property of the victims, for which compensation must be paid.
The successful lawsuit was filed in October 2005 by the local authorities of St. Bernard County, Louisiana and several private homeowners from nearby areas. The judge agreed with the argument that the failure of the Army Engineer Corps to maintain the canal in proper condition had led to the flooding.
Reasons of the hurricane:why New Orleans “drowned”
The cause of the catastrophe that happened to the most beautiful city of the American South should be sought not just in the action of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but in the specific weather conditions of the Gulf of Mexico and the peculiarities of industrial production on the coast and in the Gulf.
Many pages in various publications have been written in recent times about Hurricane Katrina. And how much more will appear about Hurricane Rita, which gained almost the same power in the same place – in the Gulf of Mexico. These two hurricanes of such intensity are an epoch-making event. Such powerful hurricanes in the Atlantic are extremely rare. Prior to Katrina and Rita, only two Category 5 hurricanes have made landfall in the United States in the past 65 years. These are Camille (1969) and Hurricane Andrew (1992). And here’s Katrina. Hurricane Rita continued this list and became the fourth Category 5 hurricane. This combination of tragic circumstances gives rise to many rumors. Moreover, some American meteorologists are putting forward the idea that hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ivan are actually created by Russian scientists.
To establish the truth, let’s first answer the question, why do these monsters, like the Amazonian pythons, periodically crawl from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico? But because there are a lot of oil rigs pumping oil. In addition, the largest river in the United States, the Mississippi, collects all surface-active dirt (soap, washing powder and other chemicals) from the continent and dumps them into the Gulf of Mexico. They pollute the surface waters of this almost enclosed area. And oil slicks and various soapy substances only one molecule thick reduce the evaporation of surface water by one-fifth. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are overheating – the depth of the upper layer with a temperature of about 30 degrees Celsius exceeds 100 meters! There are similar areas in the Pacific Ocean. This is the so-called “typhoon nest” in the northwestern part of the Pacific Ocean (Philippine Sea) and in the east – near the coast of California.
But in these water areas, the anomalous heat content of the waters is determined not only by pollution, but also by currents. In such regions, the natural balance of energy exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere is disturbed. In the Gulf of Mexico, there is also a looping counterclockwise current. It absolutely does not follow from this that due to it, additional heat comes from the Caribbean Sea. The waters of both the bay and the sea have the same heat content. But if the Gulf Stream carries the heat of the waters of the Caribbean Sea to higher latitudes, then this does not happen in the almost closed Gulf of Mexico.
Water is an excellent accumulator of solar energy. And the gigantic energy accumulated in the Gulf of Mexico is realized through hurricanes. This is a natural mechanism of heat sink in anomalously overheated areas of the World Ocean. The power of one hurricane “Katrin” on August 29 amounted to about 20 billion kilowatts, which is ten thousand times more than the power of such a large hydroelectric power station as the Volzhskaya. From this it is clear that a person cannot in any way create and manage such objects of his own free will.
So why did New Orleans sink? Indeed, this city is about two meters below sea level. However, the city stands 60 km north of the Gulf of Mexico, on the banks of the Mississippi. Several tens of kilometers of dams protect New Orleans from the waters of the nearby Lake Pontchartrain. According to the American press, through the gaps in the destroyed dams, water rushed from this lake and flooded the city. But in this case, the level of flooding should not exceed two meters. And eyewitness accounts say that in the city the water level reached 6-8 meters.
There is every reason to believe that the city was flooded by the waters of the Mississippi River. And that’s why. Right at the mouth of the Mississippi, the “eye” of Hurricane Katrina came out, which moved north, actually along the river. It blocked her flow. The fact is that in the “eye” of the hurricane, whose diameter is almost one hundred kilometers, the pressure was much less, by almost 110 mb, than outside. As a result, the water level in it is more than a meter higher than the water surface surrounding the “eye”! And this water hump blocked the course of the Mississippi, it turned out something like a tsunami, only this single wave was moved to Orleans by the “eye” of the hurricane. Mississippi’s water flow is 19,000 cubic meters. meters per second. It is easy to calculate that for 6-8 hours of movement of the hurricane upstream of the Mississippi River, the waters of the Mississippi will flood an area of 100 square kilometers with a height of 4.1 to 5.5 meters. This is the main reason for the flooding of the city.
This effect is similar to the surge of waters into the Gulf of Finland, into the Neva and the flooding of St. Petersburg. Of course, precipitation and dam failures contributed to the flooding of New Orleans. But it was precisely such an unlikely coincidence of the events listed above that drowned such a beautiful and large city. With Hurricane Rita making landfall, New Orleans was once again in a bad situation. “Rita” passed west of the Mississippi, but its scale is such that the wind speed in the Mississippi region is very high and, most importantly, the strong wind is again directed against the flow of the river. Once again, New Orleans was the scapegoat. It was flooded again. Unfortunately, while science cannot offer methods of protection against such natural phenomena.
Residents called New Orleans a carefree city. In fact, it turned out to be. Throughout the 20th century, there was discussion that New Orleans could be flooded because it is located below sea level. And no measures were taken to prevent this from happening. So the wrath of the Gods could be prevented not only with the knowledge of astrology but also with the help of the development and implementation of a more developed system of dams and dams. If the city had been protected and prepared for a hurricane, Katrina’s tough temper would have been humbled in time. With the knowledge, dexterity and cunning of Petruchio, one can cope with any natural phenomenon, and even the “wrath of the Gods” can fall instead of a giant hurricane with a cheerful summer downpour.