As 15 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, Hurricane Laura nears landfall: Weather History Wednesday

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(WFRV) – Hurricane Laura is expected to make landfall in the early morning hours on Thursday as a major hurricane along the Texas/Louisiana border. Tuesday night, the system rapidly strengthened from a Category 1 hurricane to a Category 3. Laura’s maximum sustained winds as of the 4 p.m. CDT advisory reached 145 mph making the hurricane a Category 4, well over the 111 mph benchmark that defines a ‘major hurricane.’

The forecast is calling for the system to remain a Category 4 hurricane prior to landfall. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), “unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, TX to Intracoastal City, LA.” It is possible that some of the storm surge gets 30 miles inland into southwestern Louisiana due to low elevation.

This week also marks 15 years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Louisiana coastline. The hurricane became the costliest hurricane in United States history with damages totaling $108 billion. Unfortunately, 1,833 people in the south lost their lives due to the hurricane.

Hurricane Katrina on satellite

On August 23, 2005, a tropical depression formed east of Florida which would later become Katrina. After landfall in Florida as a Category 1 hurricane on August 25, the storm moved into the Gulf of Mexico where it rapidly strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane with peak sustained winds of 175 mph.

The storm then turned northward and took direct aim on the gulf coast. Katrina weakened due to some dry air into a strong Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph at landfall on August 29, 2005 in Buras, Louisiana.

Hurricane Katrina will always be remembered for its strong storm surge that devastated areas along the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coast. Storm surge ranged from 10 to the 28 feet of surge reported in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi in these areas.

In New Orleans, the storm surge topped the federal levee system leading to extremely devastating flooding in some parishes. An estimated 80% of New Orleans was under floodwaters in the days following landfall with about 800,000 homes destroyed (NOAA). Famously, the hurricane tore through the New Orleans Super Dome where repairs totaling around $336 million were needed to fix the sports stadium.

By August 31, Katrina had become extratropical before being absorbed by a frontal zone and later dissipating near the eastern Great Lakes.

Annually, the Atlantic hurricane season averages twelve total storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. Nearing the peak of the 2020 hurricane season, the Atlantic has seen thirteen total storms, four hurricanes and one major hurricane (Laura).

Interestingly enough, Hurricane Laura is the strongest hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since Hurricane Katrina.

Stick with Storm Team 5 as we cover hurricane Laura, on-air, online, and on our app:

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