Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina

When we think about tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin, perhaps a few stand out in our minds, like Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina was one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall in the United States. From the extensive flooding, and the mass movement of people out of the affected areas to the large economic impact, let's take a look at what made Hurricane Katrina the costliest hurricane in the United States' history.

Hurricane Katrina facts

Hurricane Katrina was one of the biggest natural disasters to impact the United States. It affected an area of about 90,000 sq. miles/ 233,000 sq km and permanently displaced 400,000 persons. Hurricane Katrina caused an estimated US $81 billion in property damages and an estimated US $170 billion in overall damages.

Hurricane Katrina date

Hurricane Katrina was the twelfth tropical cyclone and fifth hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was also the third storm to turn into a major hurricane in 2005. Hurricane Katrina formed near the Bahamas as a tropical depression on 23 August 2005 and dissipated near the Great Lakes in the northern United States on 31 August 2005.

Hurricane Katrina Case Study Hurricane Katrina's track- 23 Aug. 2005 - 31 Aug. 2005 StudySmarterFig. 1 - Hurricane Katrina's track- 23 Aug. 2005 - 31 Aug. 2005

Hurricane Katrina category

Hurricane Katrina intensified quickly, becoming a Category 1 hurricane within two days of its formation. It then went on to become a Category 3 hurricane soon after that. At its strongest, before making landfall in the gulf coast states, Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane, according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with maximum sustained winds exceeding 160 mph or 257 km/h.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale ranks hurricanes from category 1-5 based on their maximum sustained wind speed only. The categories are as follows:

CategoryWind Speed
174-95 mph119-153 km/h
296-110 mph154-177 km/h
3 (major hurricane)111-129 mph178-208 km/h
4 (major hurricane)130-156 mph209-251 km/h
5 (major hurricane)> 157 mph> 252 km/h

Did you know: The centre of a tropical cyclone is called the eye?!

Hurricane Katrina affected areas

The states directly affected by Hurricane Katrina were Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Of these, Louisiana and Mississippi experienced the most significant impacts.

Florida, Georgia and Alabama

Two days after its formation, Hurricane Katrina made its first landfall between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale in Florida as a Category 1 storm. Here, Katrina's heavy rains and winds caused flooding and damaged crops and downed trees and electricity lines. The latter left over 1 million people without electricity. The storm bands also produced a tornado which caused damage in the Florida Keys.

Western Georgia experienced heavy rains and damaging winds from Hurricane Katrina. The state was also hit by 20 tornadoes due to the hurricane, which caused two deaths and destroyed several homes and businesses.

In Alabama, there was flooding from the storm surge. Katrina also downed trees and electricity lines, resulting in power outages for up to over a week in some places. On Dauphin Island, the hurricane destroyed or damaged many beachfront homes. The bands of Katrina also produced 11 tornadoes in the state.

Hurricane Katrina Case Study storm surge floodwaters in Mobile, Alabama StudySmarter

Fig. 2 - storm surge floodwaters in Mobile, Alabama

Mississippi and Louisiana

As stated above, Mississippi and Louisiana experienced the largest impacts from Hurricane Katrina. It made landfall in these states as a Category 3 storm.

Mississippi

Mississippi's gulf coast region experienced the strongest part of Katrina. While all the state's counties were affected, the three most heavily impacted were Hancock, Harrison and Jackson Counties- all located along the coast. This is because perhaps the most devastating impact of Katrina in Mississippi was the 24-28 ft/7.3- 8.5 m storm surge.

A storm surge is a temporary rise in seawater above normal sea level (often by several metres) due to a storm.

Approximately 90% of the buildings on the Biloxi-Gulfport coastline were destroyed, and there was flooding up to 6-12 miles/ 9.5-19 km inland. Although there was widespread evacuation before Katrina, some residents remained and had to resort to climbing into their attics, on top of their roofs or onto nearby trees to escape the surge waters.

Additionally, numerous floating casino barges were washed inland as a result. In other parts of Mississippi, streets and bridges were washed away. The hurricane downed trees and electricity lines and caused power outages which took up to 3 weeks to be fully restored.

Hurricane Katrina Case Study destruction of the Ocean Springs Bridge, Mississippi StudySmarter

Fig. 3 - the destruction of the Ocean Springs bridge, Mississippi

Louisiana

In Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic flooding, destroyed numerous buildings and downed trees and electricity lines. People were without power for many weeks. In addition, there was an extensive loss of coastal wetland due to the storm. Hurricane Katrina also affected oil production, damaging about 20 oil rigs throughout the Gulf Coast. Operations at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Platform also halted. This caused the average national gas price to exceed US $3.00 for the first time in the country's history. Louisiana also accounted for over 85% of the deaths caused by Hurricane Katrina. The south-eastern parishes of St. Tammany, Jefferson, Terrebonne, Plaquemines, Lafourche and St. Bernard, along with the city of New Orleans, experienced the most damage.

Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

When you think about Hurricane Katrina, the first thing that probably comes to mind is its impact on the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, which experienced the worst impacts of the hurricane.

New Orleans is located about 105mi/169 km north of the Gulf of Mexico and is surrounded by the Mississippi River, Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain. A large part of the city of New Orleans is between 10-16 ft/3-5 metres below sea level, making it almost like a bowl. To protect the city from flooding, levees and sea walls were built along the Mississippi River and the two lakes to ensure that these water bodies don't overflow their banks in times of flood.

A levee is a ridge of sediments along the banks of a river or other water body to prevent it from flooding. Levees accumulate naturally but can also be man-made.

On 28 August 2005, approximately 1.2 million people left New Orleans as part of the Mayor's mandatory evacuation order. However, many residents either chose to remain or were unable to leave the city because they were elderly or didn't have access to transportation. Of the remaining ones, a few thousand sought shelter at either the Louisiana Superdome or the New Orleans Convention Centre. The others remained in their homes.

While New Orleans was spared a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina, the storm surge and 8-10 in/20-25 cm of rain caused 50 levees to fail because of the excess pressure. This, in turn, caused large amounts of flood water to run into the city. By the afternoon of 29 August 2005, about 20% of New Orleans was underwater, and by the next day, 80% of the city was under up to 20 ft/6 m of water. The Ninth Ward, Lakeview and St. Bernard Parish experienced the worst flooding. Many residents who remained in their homes had to be rescued by boat and some by helicopter from the roofs of their houses. However, many people died, particularly the elderly, as they could not escape the floodwaters.

The rescued were taken to the Superdome. However, they had to be relocated after the roof started leaking. There were reports of food and medical supply shortages for the displaced individuals. Hospitals had no electricity and had to find alternative locations for their patients. Looting also took place. The pump stations used to pump the water out of the city were damaged during the flooding, and therefore the water remained stagnant in New Orleans for several weeks after the passing of the storm. This in itself caused other types of health problems.

Hurricane Katrina Case Study New Orleans under flood water StudySmarter

Fig. 4 - New Orleans under floodwaters

Hurricane Katrina deaths

To date, the total number of deaths, directly and indirectly, caused by Hurricane Katrina is 1833, broken down by state in the following table.

StateNumber of Deaths
Alabama2
Florida14
Georgia2
Louisiana1577
Mississippi238

Table 2

It is estimated that more than half of the deaths related to Hurricane Katrina were people over 60 years of age.

Response to Hurricane Katrina

The response to Hurricane Katrina involved coordination between government entities at all levels, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private volunteers. International countries also offered aid. Some, not all, responses to Hurricane Katrina were as follows:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided logistical supplies and mortuary trucks.
  • National Guard was mobilised to restore law and order in New Orleans.
  • National Disaster Medical System was activated, and medical teams were deployed to provide immediate medical care.
  • The federal government approved and deployed US $62.3 billion in aid.
  • Coast Guard sent helicopters and boats and organised search and rescue teams to rescue people stranded by the floodwaters.
  • Local governments from surrounding states deployed ambulances, disaster supplies and search teams.
  • NGOs such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army provided food and shelter for displaced individuals.
  • International aid and support were also sent from places such as Kuwait, Canada, the United Kingdom and Mexico, to name a few.

Hurricane Katrina Case Study Members of US Marine Corps looking for survivors in New Orleans StudySmarterFig. 5 - members of the US Marine Corps search for survivors in New Orleans

Authorities in the United States were criticised for responding slowly with post-disaster relief, particularly related to New Orleans.

Hurricane Katrina Case Study - Key takeaways

  • Hurricane Katrina was one of the costliest and deadliest natural disasters in the United States' history.
  • At its strongest, Hurricane Katrina was a category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of over 160 mph/257km/h
  • Hurricane Katrina impacted the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Louisiana and Mississippi suffered the most damage from the hurricane.
  • 80% of the city of New Orleans was flooded when the levees failed during Hurricane Katrina.
  • Hurricane Katrina caused over US $170 billion in overall damages and claimed 1833 lives - over 85% of whom were from Louisiana.
  • Relief efforts were mobilised between the government, NGOs, private volunteers and international countries.

References

  1. Fig. 2 - storm surged flood waters in Mobile, Alabama (https://wordpress.org/openverse/image/515cff12-b119-46cb-bca2-2bcc1257f9af) by au_tiger01 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/45467976@N00) Licensed by CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/?ref=openverse)
  2. Fig. 3 - destruction of the Ocean Springs bridge, Mississippi (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ocean_Springs_bridge_six_months_after_Hurricane_Katrina.jpg) by Klobetime (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Geo_Swan) Licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)
  3. Fig. 5 - members of the US Marine Corps search for survivors in New Orleans (https://wordpress.org/openverse/image/b7497bff-c37a-410a-9bfd-8d7d010819d6) by expertinfantry (https://www.flickr.com/photos/58297778@N04) Licensed by CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/?ref=openverse)

Frequently Asked Questions about Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina formed on 23 August 2005 and dissipated on 31 August 2005. 

Louisiana and Mississippi were the most affected states. New Orleans experienced the greatest impact from the hurricane. 

Hurricane Katrina causes about USD $170 billion in damages, making it the costliest disaster in the history of the United States. It also killed 1833 people. 

Hurricane Katrina was deadly because it caused storm surges that caused extensive flooding far inland and in areas where many people refused to evacuate. 

After Hurricane Katrina relief efforts were coordinated among the US government, NGOs, private volunteers and international countries. However, the US government was criticised for its slow disaster-relief response. 

Final Hurricane Katrina Quiz

Question

Where did Hurricane Katrina develop?

Show answer

Answer

Near Jamaica

Show question

Question

What category storm was Hurricane Katrina when it hit Florida?

Show answer

Answer

Category 1

Show question

Question

TRUE or FALSE: Hurricane Katrina caused tornadoes in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

What is a storm surge?

Show answer

Answer

A storm surge is a temporary rise in water above normal sea level as a result of a storm.

Show question

Question

Which states were affected by Hurricane Katrina?

Show answer

Answer

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi

Show question

Question

Which states experienced the greatest impacts from Hurricane Katrina?

Show answer

Answer

Louisiana and Georgia

Show question

Question

What category storm was Hurricane Katrina when it made landfall in Mississippi?

Show answer

Answer

Category 1

Show question

Question

Which city received the greatest impact from Hurricane Katrina?

Show answer

Answer

Miami, Florida

Show question

Question

What was the total death toll for Hurricane Katrina?

Show answer

Answer

1833

Show question

Question

Which state had the highest number of deaths from Hurricane Katrina?

Show answer

Answer

Alabama

Show question

Question

What was the estimated total overall damage caused by Hurricane Katrina?

Show answer

Answer

USD $70 billion

Show question

Question

TRUE or FALSE: New Orleans flooded because the levees protecting the city could not withstand the additional pressure caused by the 8-10 inches of rainfall and the 22ft storm surge. Therefore, they failed, causing flood water to flow into the city.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

How many people evacuated from New Orleans the day before Hurricane Katrina hit the city?

Show answer

Answer

1.2 million

Show question

Question

TRUE or FALSE: Relief efforts were coordinated only by NGOs and international countries in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

How much money in aid was mobilized and deployed by the US federal government in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?

Show answer

Answer

USD $62.3 billion

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Hurricane Katrina quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.