Hurricane Katrina was the costliest hurricane to make landfall in the United States of America. An estimated 80% of New Orleans was underwater and authorities reported a total of $125 billion in property damage. The storm made landfall as a category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale (Figure 1) with 127 mph winds on August 29th, 2005. Storm surge reached 20 feet, toppling the levees that were meant to protect New Orleans and exposing structural inadequacies. Sadly, 1836 people lost their lives as a result of the storm and more than 250,000 people were displaced from their homes (Hurricane Katrina, Graumann et al.). While in the Gulf of Mexico, the storm reached a category 5 with sustained winds of 77.78 mps (HURDAT).
With the impending threat of climate change, understanding the consequences of global warming is crucial. One consequence that is understood to be critical is the observed increase in sea surface temperatures (SSTs), and how this increase will affect the development of storms. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), one of the contributing factors that made Katrina such a powerful hurricane was the SSTs at two degrees celsius above normal. Additionally, it is mentioned that over the past 100 there has been a trend of increasing SSTs in the Gulf of Mexico (Figure 2). Another is said the be the presence of the “loop current” (belt of warmer water). The storm crossed this “loop current” and intensified greatly.The effects climate change may have on extreme weather events (e.g. hurricanes) is of special interest to both the public and the scientific community. Further understanding may allow for better disaster preparedness and anticipation, hopefully reducing the costly ramif...
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... study: to better understand how specific variables affect the development and progression of storms so as to better equip the population for the inevitable onslaught of wind, rain and sea.
Graumann, Axel, Tamara Houston, Jay Lawrimore, David Levinson, Neal Lott, Sam McCown, Scott Stephens, and David Wuertz. "Hurricane Katrina, A Climatological Perspective." Http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/. US Department of Commerce, Aug. 2006. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.
"HURDAT Re-analysis Data." HURDAT Re-analysis Data. Atlantic Oceanographic & Meterorological Laboratory, 2006. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
"Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale." Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. NOAA: National Hurricane Center, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2013.
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