Hurricane History

In light of the fact that we are entering Hurricane season, we thought we would give you a little hurricane history. The first recorded and worst in number of deaths was the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The most covered by the media was Hurricane Katrina of 2005.

Galveston Hurricane 1900
Being the first on record, this killer weather system was first detected over the tropical Atlantic on August 27, 1900. While the history of the track and intensity is not fully known, the system reached Cuba as a tropical storm on September 3 and moved into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on the 5th. A general west-northwestward motion occurred over the Gulf accompanied by rapid intensification. By the time the storm reached the Texas coast south of Galveston late on September 8, it was a Category 4 hurricane. After landfall, the cyclone turned northward through the Great Plains. It became extratropical and turned east-northeastward on September 11, passing across the Great Lakes, New England, and southeastern Canada. It was last spotted over the north Atlantic on September 15.

This hurricane was the deadliest weather disaster in United States history. Storm tides of 8 to 15 ft inundated the whole of Galveston Island, as well as other portions of the nearby Texas coast. These tides were largely responsible for the 8,000 deaths (estimates range from 6,000 to 12,000) attributed to the storm. The damage to property was estimated at $30 million and remember that was in 1900s dollars.

Hurricane Katrina 2005
Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes in the history of the United States. It is the deadliest hurricane to strike the United States since the Palm Beach-Lake Okeechobee hurricane of September 1928. It produced catastrophic damage – estimated at $75 billion in the New Orleans area and along the Mississippi coast – and is the costliest U. S. hurricane on record. Although Katrina received the most on-air coverage lasting months after she departed New Orleans, don’t forget that their were four hurricanes in 2005, Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

This horrific tropical cyclone formed from the combination of a tropical wave, an upper-level trough, and the mid-level remnants of Tropical Depression Ten. A tropical depression formed on August 23 about 200 miles southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas. Moving northwestward, it became Tropical Storm Katrina during the following day about 75 miles east-southeast of Nassau. The storm moved through the northwestern Bahamas on August 24-25, and then turned westward toward southern Florida. Katrina became a hurricane just before making landfall near the Miami-Dade/Broward county line during the evening of August 25. The hurricane moved southwestward across southern Florida into the eastern Gulf of Mexico on August 26. Katrina then strengthened significantly, reaching Category 5 intensity on August 28. Later that day, maximum sustained winds reached 175 mph with an aircraft-measured central pressure of 902 mb while centered about 195 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Katrina turned to the northwest and then north, with the center making landfall near Buras, Louisiana at 1110 UTC August 29 with maximum winds estimated at 125 mph (Category 3). Continuing northward, the hurricane made a second landfall near the Louisiana/Mississippi border at 1445 UTC with maximum winds estimated at 120 mph (Category 3). Weakening occurred as Katrina moved north-northeastward over land, but it was still a hurricane near Laurel, Mississippi. The cyclone weakened to a tropical depression over the Tennessee Valley on 30 August. Katrina became an extratropical low on August 31 and was absorbed by a frontal zone later that day over the eastern Great Lakes.

Katrina brought hurricane conditions to southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, and southwestern Alabama. The Coastal Marine Automated Network (C-MAN) station at Grand Isle, Louisiana reported 10-minute average winds of 87 mph at 0820 UTC August 29 with a gust to 114 mph. Higher winds likely occurred there and elsewhere, as many stations were destroyed, lost power, or lost communications during the storm. Storm surge flooding of 25 to 28 feet above normal tide level occurred along portions of the Mississippi coast, with storm surge flooding of 10 to 20 feet above normal tide levels along the southeastern Louisiana coast. Hurricane conditions also occurred over southern Florida and the Dry Tortugas. The National Hurricane Center reported sustained winds of 69 mph at 0115 UTC August 26 with a gust to 87 mph. Additionally, tropical storm conditions occurred along the northern Gulf coast as far east as the coast of the western Florida Panhandle, as well as in the Florida Keys. Katrina caused 10 to 14 inches of rain over southern Florida, and 8 to 12 inches of rain along its track inland from the northern Gulf coast. Thirty-three tornadoes were reported from the storm.

Katrina is responsible for approximately 1200 reported deaths, including about 1000 in Louisiana and 200 in Mississippi. Seven additional deaths occurred in southern Florida. Katrina caused catastrophic damage in southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Storm surge along the Mississippi coast caused total destruction of many structures, with the surge damage extending several miles inland. Similar damage occurred in portions of southeastern Louisiana southeast of New Orleans. The surge overtopped and breached levees in the New Orleans metropolitan area, resulting in the inundation of much of the city and its eastern suburbs. Wind damage from Katrina extended well inland into northern Mississippi and Alabama. The hurricane also caused wind and water damage in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Read more from NOAA.

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