It was six years ago today, when the infamous Hurricane Katrina reached its peak intensity, prompting the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue a rare apocalyptic message to residents of Southeastern Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast who remained in her path.
After becoming a major category 3 hurricane on August 27th in the southern Gulf of Mexico, Katrina would undergo a rapid intensification stage early on August 28th, reaching category 4 hurricane strength with winds up to 145 mph by 1 am CDT and category 5 hurricane strength with winds up to 175 mph by 10 am CDT, less than 230 miles south southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
During this intensification phase, the minimum central pressure fell from 935 mb down to as low as 902 mb with an intensity that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said was comparable to Hurricane Camille, only larger.
The low pressure measurement made Katrina the 4th most intense Atlantic hurricane on record at the time, only to be surpassed by Hurricanes Rita and Wilma later in the 2005 season. It was also the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico at the time, a record also later broken by Hurricane Rita.
With this powerful hurricane on course to impact a major U.S. city in New Orleans and surrounding areas in Mississippi, NWS New Orleans issued a dire warning for those who remained in the path of the storm less than 24 hours before its landfall.
..Devastating damage expected…
Hurricane Katrina…a most powerful hurricane with unprecedented strength…rivaling the intensity of Hurricane Camille of 1969.
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.
The majority of industrial buildings will become non functional. partial to complete wall and roof failure is expected. All wood framed low rising apartment buildings will be destroyed. Concrete block low rise apartments will sustain major damage…including some wall and roof failure.
High rise office and apartment buildings will sway dangerously…a few to the point of total collapse. All windows will blow out.
Airborne debris will be widespread…and may include heavy items such as household appliances and even light vehicles. Sport utility vehicles and light trucks will be moved. The blown debris will create additional destruction. Persons…pets…and livestock exposed to the winds will face certain death if struck.
Power outages will last for weeks…as most power poles will be down and transformers destroyed. Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.
The vast majority of native trees will be snapped or uprooted. Only the heartiest will remain standing…but be totally defoliated. Few crops will remain. Livestock left exposed to the winds will be killed.
An inland hurricane wind warning is issued when sustained winds near hurricane force…or frequent gusts at or above hurricane force…are certain within the next 12 to 24 hours.
Once tropical storm and hurricane force winds onset…do not venture outside!