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Katrina
Sunday
August 28, 2005

Just after midnight, at 12:40 AM CDT (0540 UTC), Hurricane Katrina reached Category 4 intensity with 145 mph winds.

28 Aug 2005, Sunday, 1:00 a.m. CDT (Excerpts from NOAA-NHC Advisory): HURRICANE KATRINA SPECIAL ADVISORY NUMBER 20   NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL   1 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005    ... KATRINA STRENGTHENS TO CATEGORY FOUR WITH 145 MPH WINDS ...    A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR THE NORTH CENTRAL GULF COAST FROM MORGAN CITY LOUISIANA EASTWARD TO THE ALABAMA/FLORIDA BORDER ... INCLUDING THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS AND LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN. A HURRICANE WARNING MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS. PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE RUSHED TO COMPLETION.   AT 1 AM CDT ... 0600Z ... THE CENTER OF HURRICANE KATRINA WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 25.1 NORTH ...  LONGITUDE 86.8 WEST OR ABOUT 310 MILES ...  500 KM ...  SOUTH-SOUTHEAST OF THE MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER.   KATRINA IS MOVING TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST NEAR 8 MPH. A GRADUAL TURN TOWARD THE NORTHWEST IS EXPECTED LATER TODAY.   REPORTS FROM AN AIR FORCE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT INDICATE THAT MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS HAVE INCREASED AND ARE NOW NEAR 145 MPH ... WITH HIGHER GUSTS. KATRINA IS A CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE. SOME ADDITIONAL STRENGTHENING IS POSSIBLE TODAY.   HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 70 MILES ... 110 KM ... FROM THE CENTER ... AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 160 MILES ... 260 KM.   THE MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE RECENTLY REPORTED BY THE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT WAS 935 MB ... 27.61 INCHES.   COASTAL STORM SURGE FLOODING OF 15 TO 20 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS ... LOCALLY AS HIGH AS 25 FEET ALONG WITH LARGE AND DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES ... CAN BE EXPECTED NEAR AND TO THE EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER MAKES LANDFALL.

At 2:00 AM Katrina escalates to Category 4 strength, heading for the Gulf Coast. The last time Mississippi or Louisiana saw landfall from a Category 4 or stronger storm was 1969 with Hurricane Camille.

By 7:00 AM CDT (1200 UTC), it was a Category 5 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph (280 km/h), gusts up to 215 mph (344 km/h) and a central pressure of 902 mbar.

28 Aug 2005, Sunday, 7:00 a.m. CDT (Excerpts from NOAA-NHC Advisory): HURRICANE KATRINA SPECIAL ADVISORY NUMBER 22   NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL   7 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005    ... KATRINA ... NOW A POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE ... HEADED FOR THE NORTHERN GULF COAST ...    A HURRICANE WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR THE NORTH CENTRAL GULF COAST FROM MORGAN CITY LOUISIANA EASTWARD TO THE ALABAMA/FLORIDA BORDER ... INCLUDING THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS AND LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN. A HURRICANE WARNING MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS. PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE RUSHED TO COMPLETION.   A TROPICAL STORM WARNING AND A HURRICANE WATCH ARE IN EFFECT FROM EAST OF THE ALABAMA/FLORIDA BORDER TO DESTIN FLORIDA ... AND FROM WEST OF MORGAN CITY TO INTRACOASTAL CITY LOUISIANA. A TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS. A HURRICANE WATCH MEANS THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA ... GENERALLY WITHIN 36 HOURS. AT 7 AM CDT ... 1200Z ... THE CENTER OF HURRICANE KATRINA WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 25.7 NORTH ...  LONGITUDE 87.7 WEST OR ABOUT 250 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHEAST OF THE MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER.   KATRINA IS MOVING TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST NEAR 12 MPH ... AND A GRADUAL TURN TOWARD THE NORTHWEST AND NORTH-NORTHWEST IS EXPECTED OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS.   MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 160 MPH ... WITH HIGHER GUSTS. KATRINA IS A POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE. SOME FLUCTUATIONS IN STRENGTH ARE LIKELY DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS.   HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 85 MILES FROM THE CENTER ... AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 185 MILES.   DATA FROM AN AIR FORCE HURRICANE HUNTER PLANE INDICATE THAT THE MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE HAS FALLEN TO NEAR 908 MB ... 26.81 INCHES.   COASTAL STORM SURGE FLOODING OF 15 TO 20 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS ... LOCALLY AS HIGH AS 25 FEET ALONG WITH LARGE AND DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES ... CAN BE EXPECTED NEAR AND TO THE EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER MAKES LANDFALL.   RAINFALL TOTALS OF 5 TO 10 INCHES ... WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 15 INCHES ... ARE POSSIBLE ALONG THE PATH OF KATRINA ACROSS THE GULF COAST AND THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES.   ISOLATED TORNADOES WILL BE POSSIBLE BEGINNING SUNDAY EVENING OVER SOUTHERN PORTIONS OF LOUISIANA ... MISSISSIPPI ... AND ALABAMA ... AND OVER THE FLORIDA PANHANDLE.

7:00 AM Katrina grows into a Category 5 storm, the worst and highest category on the Saffir-Simpson scale with 160 mph winds and heads for the northern Gulf coast.

LOUISIANA NEWSPAPER SIGNALS LEVEES MAY GIVE:
 “Forecasters Fear Levees Won’t Hold Katrina”: “Forecasters feared Sunday afternoon that storm driven waters will lap over the New Orleans levees when monster Hurricane Katrina pushes past the Crescent City tomorrow.”

8:00 AM.

The boost came just hours after Katrina reached category 4, with wind of 233km/h, (145 mph) as it gathered energy from the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico.

A category 5 hurricane - the highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale - is capable of causing catastrophic damage. Only three category 5 storms have hit the United States since record-keeping began.

Officials worried that not enough people were taking the monster storm seriously enough.

"People need to take this very seriously and get to a safe area while they can,"
state police sgt. Frank Coates before the new advisory was issued.

Katrina, blamed for eleven deaths in South Florida, was expected to hit the Gulf Coast early Monday and a hurricane warning was in effect from Morgan City to the Alabama-Florida line.

At 8:00 AM, Katrina's centre was about 400km (249 mph) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the hurricane center said. It was moving west-northwest at about 19km/h (12mph).

Hurricane force-wind of at least 119km/h (74 mph) extended up to 136km (85 mph) from the centre.

The storm had the potential for storm surge flooding of up to 8m (26 feet), topped with even higher waves, as much as 38cm (1.2 feet) of rain, and tornadoes.

"I've been here 33 years, and we've always been concerned about New Orleans,"
National Hurricane Centre director Max Mayfield said before Katrina reached category 5.

"I had to let the mayor know that this storm has the potential not only to cause large property damage, but large loss of life if people don't make the right decision."

Katrina could be a disaster for New Orleans because the bowl-like city sits below sea-level and needs levees and pumps to keep water out, Mayfield said.

Before 9:30 AM CDT President Bush calls Governor Blanco and urges her to evacuate the endangered areas. Publicly, he urges all those living in the path of the hurricane to put their personal safety ahead of all other concerns.
Photos people evacuating

9:30 AM as Katrina hits 175 mph winds, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin orders mandatory evacuations less than 24 hours before Katrina's projected landfall, as the storm seems to beat a direct path to the city and facing its worst fear
- the threat of a direct hit from a major hurricane that could swamp the low-lying city.
Officials are particularly concerned about New Orleans because about 70 percent of the city is below sea level.

The city essentially sits in a bowl, protected by a series of levies that keep the Mississippi River waters out.

Nagin warned that Katrina's expected storm surge - which could top 28 feet - would likely topple those levies.

10 shelters are also set up, including the Superdome, for those unable to leave.

See Photos

These evacuations appear to include the Parishes/Counties of Saint Charles, Saint James, Assumption, Plaquemines, Jefferson, especially the Coastal Areas. Katrina is currently packing winds of 160 miles per hour and gusts to 200 mph. The mayor states that, "We have identified the Superdome as our primary, designated center of last refuge." He also states, "If the Superdome fills, there are other high profile buildings that we feel that are available and could provide us with some additional shelter." When a reporter replies with, "like, such as", the Mayor states, "I prefer not to get into that right now."

At 9:30AM New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin called for a first-ever mandatory evacuation of the city this morning, saying that Hurricane Katrina's devastating power may well create the sort of cataclysmic damage that residents have long worried that a killer storm could cause in a city that lies mostly below sea level.

“We’re facing the storm most of us have feared,” said Nagin. “This is going to be an unprecedented event.” Times-Picayune

Residents are asked to bring food for 3-5 days, pillows, blankets, and any other supplies needed.

Late in the afternoon- President Bush, FEMA Director Mike Brown and and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff were warned of levee failure by National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Max Mayfield.

"We were briefing them way before landfall . . .
It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped."
Times-Picayune      St. Petersburg Times

US President George W Bush had declared a state of emergency in Louisiana.

LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD REQUESTS 700 BUSES FROM FEMA FOR EVACUATIONS:
FEMA sends only 100 buses.
Boston Globe

9:46AM CDT Mayor Nagin of New Orleans exempts Hospitals and Hotels from the evacuation order.
During this same press conference, a police official states that, "We're gonna keep our prisoners where they belong."
A reporter asked Mayor Nagin,
"What if somebody refuses to leave their house and says I'm staying?"
Nagin replies, 
"Well, I mean that's their choice and ya know we're all adults, but they will be violating the law number one, but, ah, we're hoping that everyone will leave."
CNN Reports

In a press conference at roughly 10:00 AM CDT, Nagin declared that "a mandatory evacuation order is hereby called for all of the parish of Orleans." "We're facing the storm most of us have feared," he told the early-morning news conference, with the governor at his side. Following Nagin's speech, Governor Blanco stated that President Bush called her "just before" the press conference and said that he was "concerned about the storm's impact and asked her "to please ensure that there would be a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans." Katrina was expected to make landfall overnight. Shortly after the meeting, at 10:00 AM CDT (1500 UTC), the National Weather Service issued a bulletin predicting "devastating" damage.

Katrina Advisory of 10:00 am, location is 225 miles SSE of the Mouth of the Mississippi River, sustained winds of 175 miles per hour and gusts to over 200 mph, moving WNW at 12 miles per hour, pressure 907 mb. Center of projected landfall path is about 15 miles east of New Orleans with a possibility of error of about 100 miles. Expected wave heights of 35 to 40 feet and tidal surges of over 25 feet. Hurricane warnings have been issued for locations between Morgan City, Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida.
Weather Channel

 Evacuation orders are posted all along the Mississippi coast.

 Hurricane Katrina strengthened to a category 5 on Sunday with 257km/h (160 mph) sustained wind as residents of south Louisiana jammed highways in a rush to flee the powerful storm.

The US National Hurricane Centre put out a special advisory on the hurricane's gain in strength just before


26,000 shelter at Superdome

At 12:00 PM CDT (1700 UTC), the Louisiana Superdome was opened as a, "refuge of last resort," for those residents that were unable to obtain safe transport out of the city.

About 26,000 New Orleans residents sought refuge from Hurricane Katrina at the Superdome, which authorities describe as the "shelter of last resort," Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu said late Sunday. To help keep them fed and hydrated, the Louisiana National Guard delivered three truckloads of water and seven truckloads of MREs, short for "meals ready to eat." That's enough to supply 15,000 people for three days, according to Col. Jay Mayeaux, deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Outside the New Orleans area, the Louisiana Red Cross has opened 45 emergency shelters that were serving about 3,000 evacuees as of late Sunday, said Victor Howell, who heads the Red Cross of the Louisiana Capital Area.

 

1:31 PM CDT (Weather Channel): Location is 180 miles SSE of the Mouth of the Mississippi River, sustained winds of 175 miles per hour, moving NW at 13 miles per hour, pressure 906 mb. Center of second projected landfall path is still between New Orleans, Louisiana and Gulfport, Mississippi with a possibility of error of about 100 miles. Expected wave heights of 35 to 40 feet and tidal surges of 20 to 25 feet.

1:34 PM CDT (Weather Channel): Weather Channel reports that Katrina's sustained winds are now 184 miles per hour, moving NW at 13 miles per hour, pressure 902 mb.

2:39 PM CDT (Fox News, Accu-Weather analyst, Joe Bastardi): Predicts an initial landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River and secondary landfall near the Pearl River, just east of New Orleans. Joe Bastardi predicts that the storm may have winds of 120-130 miles per hour as it passes east of New Orleans and that after it moves northeast of New Orleans, the northerly winds will blow Lake Pontchartrain's waters into New Orleans. Joe Bastardi states, "You just gotta get out of there  ...  You have to understand, we're dealing with something that is beyond what you have seen, and it's not Dennis, and it's not Ivan, and it's not Lily. It's Katrina, and it will always be remembered that, just the way Camille was on the Mississippi. This will be remembered in a large area.  ...  Words can not express my fear for folks living in this whole arc right in here [Southeast Louisiana to Pascagoula, Mississippi] and that includes New Orleans.  ...  This has the power of Camille and the size of Betsy."

At 2:42 PM. CDT (Fox News, Shepard Smith on the phone]: "We were listening to the radio, emergency evacuation preparedness type people have been on the radio non-stop for most of the day and one thing that was said by the mayor, he was asked a question by outside media from outside New Orleans about shelters and ah safe places and the like. Well, he made the point and made it quite vocally that many years ago the National Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency came together and said, there is no such as thing a shelter in Jefferson Parish, there is no such thing as a safe place to have an evacuation center in all of Jefferson Parish, that's the half million people in New Orleans and surrounding areas, because of the situation of levees and dykes and pumping stations and all the rest, if you lose the power and you lose the generators and you lose the ability to pump water out, ah, then according to those emergency managers, nothing's safe. Ah, old school New Orleanians, ah, are not believing it. You know, I'm not at all surprised and ah, and ah, I'm hoping."

At 4:00 PM (CDT) THe National Weather Service issues a SPECIAL HURRICANE WARNING:
In the event of a category 4 or 5 hit,
“Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer . . .
At least one-half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail, leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed . . .
Power outages will last for weeks . . .
Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.”

NHC 10 p.m. Katrina advisory

At 10 PM, the National Hurricane center shifted Katrina's path a slight bit east and says it may have lost a little bit of strength. However, they're officially saying it's still at 160 mph, a Category 5.

The storm is apparently going through an eyewall replacement cycle, with the inner wall with highest winds beginning to erode and being replaced by a new, wider wall.

The good news is that that could mean the top windspeeds could be only Category 4 at landfall. The bad news is that the new eye will be wider, expanding the area affected by hurricane-force and highest winds.

However, they're still estimating 156 mph winds in 12 hours as the storm reaches the coast. That puts landfall at about 10 a.m., but hurricane-force winds will occur in a few hours.

Coast Guard closes ports, waterways

The U.S. Coast Guard closed ports and waterways along the Gulf Coast Sunday as Hurricane Katrina neared its expected landfall Monday morning, according to a Guard news release.

All commercial ships and Coast Guard-regulated barge over 200 gross tons were ordered to leave ports between Long Beach, Miss. and the Aucilla River, Fla., which includes ports in Panama City, Pensecola, Mobile, Pascagoula and Gulfport.

The Guard also moved 40 aircraft and 30 boats and cutters in positions surrounding the expected strike zone, such as Houston and Jacksonville, readying to conduct search and rescue and humanitarian missions, the Guard release said.

Area could see hurricane force winds near midnight

Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Director Walter Maestri at a 10:35 p.m. news conference said the latest information from the National Weather Service indicated that Katrina was bound head-on to the New Orleans metropolitan area.

Maestri said that the region would see the first hurricane force winds of 75 mph about midnight.

"We are looking at a storm that is a cause of concern,'' Maestri said.

He implored residents to get off the streets and head to shelter. Jefferson Parish opened three shelters of last resort Sunday afternoon at Bonnabel High School in Kenner, Worley Middle School in Westwego and Truman Middle School in Marrero.

Grand Isle power out

Wind gusts clocked at 80 mph knocked out power Sunday in Grand Isle and Port Fourchon about 9:30 p.m., ahead of Hurricane Katrina's landfall, Department of Transportation and Development spokesman Mark Lambert said. Gusts up to 74 mph also caused damage in south Plaquemines Parish, Lambert said.

Washing Away: The worst-case scenarios

The worst-case scenarios of a major hurricane striking New Orleans were detailed in a significant Times-Picayune series, "Washing Away."
It's only a matter of time before South Louisiana takes a direct hit from a major hurricane. Billions have been spent to protect us, but we grow more vulnerable every day.

Five-Part Series published June 23-27, 2002 

Further predictions were that the standing water caused by huge storm surges would render most of the city uninhabitable for weeks, while the destruction of oil and petrochemical refineries in the surrounding area would spill waste into the flooding, converting the city into a toxic marsh until water could be drained. Some experts said that it could take six months or longer to pump all the water out of the city. Even after the area had been drained, all buildings would need to undergo inspection to determine structural soundness, as all buildings in the city would likely be at least partly submerged. In a cruel twist of fate, many of the predictions from a FEMA simulated hurricane response exercise held in 2004. National Geographic published FEMA's predictions for the city and the country following such a disaster in October 2004:

The complete article can be viewed on National Geographic's web site.

Scientific American published a similar article in October 2001.

 Also see
Hurricane Pam Exercise Concludes

Warnings of dangerous vulnerability

In 2001, the Houston Chronicle published a story which predicted that a severe hurricane striking New Orleans, "would strand 250,000 people or more, and probably kill one of 10 left behind as the city drowned under 20 feet of water. Thousands of refugees could land in Houston." In 2002, the Times Picayune published a feature covering various scenarios, including a Category 5 hurricane hitting the city from the south. The series also explored the various environmental changes that have increased the area's vulnerability. One article in the series concluded that hundreds of thousands would be left homeless, and it would take months to dry out the area and begin to make it liveable. But there wouldn't be much for residents to come home to. The local economy would be in ruins. Many concerns focus around the fact that the city lies below sea level with a levee system that was designed for hurricanes of no greater intensity than category 3. Furthermore, its natural defenses, the surrounding marshland and the barrier islands, have been dwindling in recent years. Just a few months before Katrina, the FX docudrama Oil Storm depicted a category 4 hurricane hitting New Orleans and forcing residents to evacuate and hide out in the Superdome, and speculated about a national economic meltdown caused by the decreased oil supply.

THE LEVEE SYSTEM, YOU GOTTA KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS and IMPROVE YOUR CAPABILITIES WHEN YOU CAN:

Calls to upgrade the levee system and make other preparations to protect the city from flooding have been ignored for years, as have calls to develop plans to evacuate the tens of thousands of people lacking their own transportation. Proposals to improve the city's defenses have been rejected as too costly, and even the existing projects to maintain the levee system and restore protective wetland areas have been under funded. The existing levee system in New Orleans, which protects the below sea level city from the water that surrounds it, has been in place for over a century. It has been upgraded numerous times, most recently in response to Hurricane Betsy in 1965. Betsy was a Category 3 storm, and the levee system was designed only to protect the city from a similar intensity storm at best.

A government official echoed the last statement in an interview with Bill O'Reilly during the week after Katrina struck. Bill's response was one of amazement and sarcasm saying something like, "You mean they decided that if the hurricane is more than a category 3, they can all just die?" The official could not come up with a response and there was a pause of many seconds before Bill continued the interview by asking another question.

 There is no doubt that the current administration has limited the funds available to the Army Corp of Engineers and their flood control and levee maintenance and delta marsh restoration projects, but this precedent has be set by many and almost every administration since 1965,  including the Carter and Clinton administrations, and as the Louisiana Democrat Senator, Mary Landrieu, a staunch Bush Administration and Federal response critic, would admit in a Fox News interview on 11 Sep 2005, the Bush Administration has actually provided slightly more funding for key New Orleans flood control projects in the past five years than did the Clinton Administration in its last five years. It took almost 8 years for the Clinton administration to erode the economic conditions created by the Reagan administration and the current administration took office as the economy was declining. Then, 9 months after taking office, the terrorist attacks of 911 occurred and the war of terror was soon to begin. The Bush administration had to cut many worthwhile projects in order to counter the cost of 911 and the war on terror. In hindsight, the most opportune time to have funded the maintenance, restoration, and upgrades of the flood control and levee projects in recent years would have been during the period of 1992 through 1999, when there was an economic boom, created by the policies of the Reagan administration.   A category 5 hurricane would have breached the Mississippi River Levees and flooded the city of New Orleans with up to 25 feet of water and would have been much worse than the canal levee breaches that did occur. Had the Katrina been a category 5 hurricane or major category 4 when made its second landfall, there would probably have been many more deaths in New Orleans and almost all those who have currently been rescued and evacuated from the Katrina flooded areas in New Orleans, would have died in the near 30 foot surge of water that would have spread much faster and been much more devastating than the flood waters from the breached canal levees.

August 28 photos

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