A Look Back At Hurricane Katrina
Posted on August 29, 2011 at 12:43 PM
This day in history, Hurricane Katrina slammed into southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. It's tragically ironic that it falls the day after a massive hurricane, Irene, spun its way along the East Coast of the United States.
Katrina was the costliest to hit the United States, and the third deadliest, with an estimated 1,500 deaths directly attributed to the storm.
Katrina first hit Florida August 25 as a Category 1 storm, strengthened to a Category 5 from a Category 3 in just 12 hours over the Gulf of Mexico, then hit the Gulf coast August 29 as a weaker but dangerous Category 3.
The monster hurricane also knocked out New Orleans' levees, resulting in widespread flooding and destruction in the city.
Irene vs. Katrina
Irene's mammoth size made many forecasters nervous, as the storm had the potential to pummel huge swaths of the Eastern Seaboard with heavy rain, flooding and strong winds. At its largest, Irene measured about 600 miles (966 km) across, nearly as big as Texas.
Katrina was also enormous, though apparently not quite as big as Irene. Katrina was about 400 miles (644 km) wide when it made landfall in Louisiana.
Irene was a big, bad storm, but it could have been worse. The hurricane maxed out at Category 3, meaning its highest sustained wind speeds never topped 130 mph (209 kph). And Irene was not that powerful when it hit populated areas.
While Hurricane Irene covered more area, Katrina was more intense. In the Gulf of Mexico, Katrina grew into a Category 5 hurricane — the strongest storm there is. Katrina's maximum sustained winds reached speeds of around 173 mph (278 kph).
But Katrina weakened as well before making landfall. When it hit Louisiana, the storm had been downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane and boasted max wind speeds around 127 mph (204 kph).
While it's far too early to fully gauge Irene's impact, it's already clear the storm is far from another Katrina.