One year later: Hurricane Katrina in review
Historical look at the most damaging storm in U.S. history
August 28, 2006
The 2005 hurricane season was the most active on record.
While hurricane Katrina was the most devastating, causing 1833 fatalities and over $81 billion in damage, it was not the strongest storm of the year -- both Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Wilma were more powerful. Katrina, which at one point in the Gulf of Mexico was a Category 5 hurricane, was only a Category 3 hurricane when it made landfall near New Orleans on August 29, 2005. Nevertheless, the damage was extensive.
This image depicts a 3-day average of actual sea surface temperatures (SSTs) for the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, from August 25-27, 2005, as measured by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite. Areas in yellow, orange or red represents ocean temperatures of 82 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Credit: NASA/SVS
In the aftermath of Katrina it became evident that the 25 percent loss of Louisiana wetlands, which can help buffer coastal regions from the impact of storms, had a significant impact on the level of storm damage. Citing studies that show for every square mile of wetlands lost, storm surges rise by one foot, experts have put forth proposals to restore large areas of coastal marshlands to help mitigate future hurricane damage. But these efforts may be in vain due to the possibility that higher sea temperatures may fuel ever stronger storms.
Warm ocean waters drive hurricanes
Hurricanes are driven by sea temperatures. A hurricane needs surface sea temperatures of 82 degrees or warmer to strengthen. Warmer water temperatures -- several studies have shown that ocean temperatures worldwide are climbing with atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases -- could well expand the current range of coastline affected by hurricanes.
While there is inadequate evidence to suggest that this has yet occurred, climate scientists have expressed concern.
"Future warming may lead to an upward trend in [hurricanes'] destructive potential, and--taking into account an increasing coastal population--a substantial increase in hurricane-related losses in the 21st century," wrote Kerry Emanuel in a paper appearing in the July 31 2005 online edition of the journal Nature.
"I infer that future hurricane hazard mitigation efforts should reflect that hurricane damage will continue to increase, in part, due to greenhouse warming," said James Elsner of Florida State University who authored an August 23 2006 Geophysical Research Letters paper on sea surface temperatures and Atlantic hurricane intensity.
Hurricane articles since Katrina - more here
Katrina's Category 4 winds were observed by NASA's QuikSCAT on August 29, 2005, just before landfall. The image shows wind speed in color and wind direction with small barbs. White barbs point to areas of heavy rain. The highest wind speeds, shown in purple, surround the center of the storm. Credit: NASA JPL
As first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina nears, a just-released Zogby poll shows that not only are Americans more convinced global warming is happening, they are also linking recent intense weather events like Hurricane Katrina and this summer's heat wave and droughts to global warming.
Hurricane intensity linked to global warming -- 8/15/2006
A new study says climate change is affecting the intensity of Atlantic hurricanes and that hurricane damage will likely worsen in coming years due to increasing ocean temperatures. Unlike recent studies that have linked higher sea temperatures to an increase in the number of hurricanes, the new research shows a direct relationship between climate change and hurricane intensity.
Fewer hurricanes predicted for 2006 season -- 8/4/2006
William Gray and Philip Klotzbach of the Colorado State University hurricane forecast team issued a report today reducing the number of storms expected to form in the Atlantic basin this season.
Global warming link to hurricanes challenged -- 7/31/2006
Last week a leading meteorologist challenged a proposed link between global warming and hurricane intensity, based on inaccuracies in the historical data used in the studies.
NASA to study how African winds and dust influence hurricanes -- 7/31/2006
Scientists from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, universities and international agencies will study how winds and dust conditions from Africa influence the birth of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.
Global Warming Fueled Record 2005 Hurricane Season Conclude Scientists -- 6/22/2006
Global warming accounted for around half of the extra hurricane-fueling warmth in the waters of the tropical North Atlantic in 2005, while natural cycles were only a minor factor, according to a new analysis by Kevin Trenberth and Dennis Shea of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The study will appear in the June 27 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union
2006: Expect another big hurricane year says NOAA -- 5/22/2006
The 2006 hurricane season in the north Atlantic region is likely to again be very active, although less so than 2005 when a record-setting 15 hurricanes occured, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On average, NOAA says the north Atlantic hurricane season produces 11 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including two major hurricanes. In 2005, the Atlantic hurricane season contained a record 28 storms, including 15 hurricanes. Seven of these hurricanes were considered major, of which a record four hit the United States. The warning from NOAA comes after a slew of studies have indicated that climate change could increase the frequency and intensity of powerful storms. Last year, two earlier studies published in the journals Nature and Science found a strong correlation between rising tropical sea surface temperatures and an increase in the strength of hurricanes.
Study questions link between hurricanes and global warming -- 5/10/2006
New research calls into question the linkage between major Atlantic hurricanes and global warming. That is one of the conclusions from a University of Virginia study to appear in the May 10, 2006 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. In recent years, a large number of severe Atlantic hurricanes have fueled a debate as to whether global warming is responsible. Because high sea-surface temperatures fuel tropical cyclones, this linkage seems logical. In fact, within the past year, several hurricane researchers have correlated basin-wide warming trends with increasing hurricane severity and have implicated a greenhouse-warming cause.
Birthplace of hurricanes heating up say NOAA scientists -- 5/3/2006
The region of the tropical Atlantic where many hurricanes originate has warmed by several tenths of a degree Celsius over the 20th century, and new climate model simulations suggest that human activity, such as increasing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, may contribute significantly to this warming. This new finding is one of several conclusions reported in a study by scientists at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., published today in the Journal of Climate.
Global warming causing stronger hurricanes -- 3/16/2006
The link between warmer ocean temperatures and increasing intensity of hurricanes has been confirmed by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Last year, two studies published in the journals Nature and Science found a strong correlation between rising tropical sea surface temperatures and an increase in the strength of hurricanes.
Snails may have worsened Hurricane Katrina's impact -- 12/19/2005
Periwinkle snails may have indirectly worsened the impact of Hurricane Katrina by decimating an estimated 250,000 acres of Gulf salt marsh between 1999 and 2003, according to research presented in the journal Science last week.
2006 Hurricane season likely to be active -- 12/6/2005
The United States faces another very active Atlantic basin hurricane season in 2006, but with likely fewer landfalling intense hurricanes than in 2005 - the costliest, most destructive hurricane season ever - according to a report issued today by Philip Klotzbach, William Gray and the Colorado State University forecast team.
US denies hurricane link with climate change -- 12/1/2005
Harlan Watson, chief climate control negotiator for the U.S. State Department, told the Associated Press that the Bush administration does not blame global warming or climate change for extreme weather -- including the hurricanes that thrashed the Gulf earlier this year.
2005 Atlantic hurricane season worst on record -- 11/29/2005
The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is the busiest on record and extends the active hurricane cycle that began in 1995 -- a trend likely to continue for years to come. The season included 26 named storms, including 13 hurricanes in which seven were major.
Is there a link between the Arctic and hurricanes? -- 9/29/2005
Is there a cause-and-effect link between the warming trend in the Arctic and the recent increase in Atlantic hurricane activity?.
Hurricane Katrina damage just a dose of what's to come -- 9/21/2005
The kind of devastation seen on the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina may be a small taste of what is to come if emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2 ) are not diminished soon, warns Dr. Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology in his opening remarks at the 7th International Carbon Dioxide Conference in Boulder, Colorado, September 26, 2005.
Can We Fight Hurricanes? -- 9/21/2005
Hurricane Rita just strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane. A Category 5 hurricane is the strongest and most severe class of hurricane. The scale, known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, classifies hurricanes by the intensity of their sustained winds, storm surge and flooding, developed in 1969 by civil engineer Herbert Saffir and National Hurricane Center director Bob Simpson.
Tampa Bay could be hit by 25-foot storm surge in Category 4 hurricane -- 9/16/2005
A Category 4 hurricane could cause a storm surge of as much as 25 feet in Tampa Bay, according to a University of Central Florida researcher who is looking at the risks Florida cities face from tidal surges and flooding.
Number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has nearly doubled over past 35 years -- 9/16/2005
The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35 years, even though the total number of hurricanes has dropped since the 1990s, according to a study by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The shift occurred as global sea surface temperatures have increased over the same period. The research appears in the September 16 issue of Science.
Hurricane could hit San Diego -- 9/8/2005
San Diego has been hit by hurricanes in the past and may be affected by such storms in the future according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While a hurricane in San Diego would likely produce significantly less damage that Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, it could still exact a high cost to Southern California especially if the region was caught off guard.
Economic impact of hurricane close to neutral -- 9/7/2005
The CBO projects 400,000 people will be unemployed due to Hurricane Katrina. Further, the hurricane is unlikely to have much impact on overall economic growth in the United States. Generally, the overall impact of natural disasters is often close to neutral since lost output from destruction and displacement is then compensated for by a big increase in reconstruction and public spending.
Personal account of hurricane destruction along Mississippi Gulf Coast -- 9/6/2005
The following is an eyewitness account of hurricane destruction along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Included is information on plans to provide pro bono services from out of state lawyers to the storm victims, many of whom will need assistance in dealing with insurance companies, relief bureaucracies, and possibly personal or small business bankruptcies in the aftermath of the storm.
Mississippi's poor areas have worst hurricane impact -- 9/5/2005
People living in the path of Hurricane Katrina's worst devastation were twice as likely as most Americans to be poor and without a car -- factors that might help explain why so many failed to evacuate as the storm approached.
Poverty worsens hurricane impact -- AP analysis -- 9/5/2005
An Associated Press analysis of Census data shows that the residents in the three dozen hardest-hit neighborhoods in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama also were disproportionately minority and had incomes $10,000 below the national average.
Environmental problems worsened Hurricane Katrina's impact -- 8/31/2005
The loss of coastal marshlands that buffer New Orleans from flooding and storm surges may have worsened the impact of Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricanes getting stronger due to global warming says study -- 8/29/2005
Late last month an atmospheric scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a study in Nature that found hurricanes have grown significantly more powerful and destructive over the past three decades. Kerry Emanuel, the author of the study, warns that since hurricanes depend on warm water to form and build, global climate change might increase the effect of hurricanes still further in coming years.
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