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Katrina a Category 1 When it Hit New Orleans?!?

It's been getting more widely accepted that Katrina was NOT a Category 4 storm, especially by the time it hit New Orleans. Now we get more data that is just chilling.

New data suggest Katrina was a less intense, Category 3 storm

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - (KRT) - Hurricane Katrina might have battered New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as a considerably weaker system than the Category 4 tempest initially reported.

New, preliminary information, compiled by hurricane researchers, suggests the system struck southeast Louisiana on Aug. 29 with peak-sustained winds of 115 mph. That would have made it a Category 3 storm, still a major hurricane but a step down from the enormous destructive force of a Category 4.

Katrina might have further downgraded to a strong Category 1 system with 95-mph winds, when it punched water through New Orleans' levees, severely flooding most of the city and killing hundreds. The levees were designed to withstand a Category 3 storm.

If verified, the wind information, compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hurricane Research Division, could have chilling ramifications. ...

That information, derived mainly from hurricane hunter aircraft, still might stand after the hurricane center in Miami-Dade County conducts a thorough reanalysis.

Hurricane specialist Richard Knabb said the new wind measures conflict with the initial reports, but noted, "that's almost always the case." He said the hurricane center has to pore through much more technical data before deciding what wind speeds will be included in Katrina's final report, likely not to be completed for months.

"We're still in the midst of doing that analysis," he said.

Powell said the new data show that Katrina packed 95-mph winds over the east end of Lake Pontchartrain and about 65 mph over the west end, enough to cause the levees to fail.

I spent a full day in the West End area looking at damage. I find it hard to fathom (at first) that much damage was caused by 65mph winds. A good winter storm will give us 65mph winds but of course there is a difference between a few gusts of 65 and several hours of sustained winds.

A few months ago Tropical Storm Cindy hit New Orleans as a direct hit and people in town were amazed how much damage we got from a tropical storm. I made the point that it was all about geography. A direct hit from a TS is much worse than a hurricane 100 miles away. I've heard it claimed that my half of town never saw hurricane force winds from Katrina. ... Although driving thru town, you'd have a very, very hard time believing that.

Having said all of the above, continuing from a previous post. If the stormwalls failed in Cat 1 winds, somebody has some explaining to do.


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Comments (18)

I think we are going to eve... (Below threshold)
John Lederer:

I think we are going to eventually find that the flood walls were substandard, either in design or construction.

My personal bet is that the sheet wall pilings were not driven to the proper depth. There are several indicia of that -- direct observation by a LSU person, the adjudicated problem a contractor had with concrete poured onto the sheet wall leaning, evidence that there was a ground heave possibly caused by soil moving under the flood wall.

Besides, short pilings are a classic way to cheat on a contract -- the evidence is concealed under the ground.


Thanks for the link to the ... (Below threshold)
Drew Edmondson:

Thanks for the link to the article ...it also reads "He said the new readings could be off as much as 10 percent, which would still make it a Catagory 3 at land fall" ... I agree, there might be cause for concern. ... however, now that it has been determined we do not need an independent inquiry I am sure all of these questions will be answered...as for the rebuilding...I am sure that the winner of the no bid contract will spare no expense in uses of concrete etc ....

Even as a Cat 1 or 2 at lan... (Below threshold)

Even as a Cat 1 or 2 at landfall, the storm had been pushing water northward as a Cat 4 and 5 for several days. I was in MS for ten days and at least 20 feet of storm surge came rushing in SW MS.

So, while the wind may have dropped, the amount of water pushed into Lake Ponchartrain and pushed West as the eye moved past was probably along the lines of a true Cat 3. The bouy water height readings seem to bear that out.

The levees probably still should have held, though.

Mesa that is a good point. ... (Below threshold)

Mesa that is a good point. Still, if the floodwalls broke with almost 4 feet of freeboard, somebody is in deep doo doo.

So only a catagory 3 so muc... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

So only a catagory 3 so much for this global warming poppycock just more of the liberal news media blowing things outta preportion like they always do

There have been previous re... (Below threshold)

There have been previous reports indicating that the storm surge from Katrina was insufficient to overtop the levees. The LSU hurricane center released a study indicating this was the case about two weeks ago. Also, there was at least one story (in WaPo on 9/11 I think) which reported that the levees may have broken as early as 3:00 AM, i.e. well before Katrina made landfall. The whole "overtopped first" position looks as solid to me as, well, a New Orleans levee.

IMO the trail of why the levees broke will inevitably lead back to the design and/or construction of the levees. And that was the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers.

If the stormwalls failed... (Below threshold)

If the stormwalls failed in Cat 1 winds, somebody has some explaining to do.

If they failed in Cat-1 winds, we need to find an intact oak tree on which to hang the crooks who built the things.

If they failed in the wi... (Below threshold)

If they failed in the wind, I don't think it matters what category the storm was. They're supposed to withstand water pressure.

Even a hypothetical Cat-6 shouldn't have bothered them.

Even a hypothetical Cat-... (Below threshold)

Even a hypothetical Cat-6 shouldn't have bothered them.

Should read "Even the winds of a hypothetical Cat-6 shouldn't have bothered them."

Well, hell, just tell all t... (Below threshold)

Well, hell, just tell all the folks on the MS Gulf Coast, Hattiesburg, Laurel, etc., that all that wind was just a tropical storm. Maybe their houses will start growing back.

Let NOAA do the research, but wind damage and weather stations where I am (about 180 miles inland) indicated Category 2 sustained winds with gusts well into Cat-3 force.

Still, I guess it makes sense. New Orleans proper never saw Cat-4/5 winds, and we've learned that New Orleans was the only important place that got hit, right?

It takes a helluva storm to still be a hurricane (by pressure or wind) up to 250 miles inland. Cat-1 my ass.

What about that story of th... (Below threshold)

What about that story of the barge ramming the levee? I heard it a few times and it seemed like a more plausible cause but once the news guys moved on --well, we get no further investigation.

It is the leeves breaking t... (Below threshold)
john Ryan:

It is the leeves breaking that should be the real story. Not wheter Paul oooops I mean Ray should have commandered a school bus. 500 million for the 2 bridges in Alaska and 40 million for New Orleans flood control. Congress authorizes expenditures, the bill goes into law when the President signs it.Accountability NOT !!! how did your reps and senators vote on this ???

Katrina wasn't even a tropi... (Below threshold)
john Ryan:

Katrina wasn't even a tropical storm where I live, 1400miles away. NOAA is just giving its reportsas to the LOCAL conditions in this case New Orleans. Missisippi took a much harder hit. Why did the levees fail ? Failure to maintainseems tobe the reason. Was the Army Corps of Engineers to blame? Not IMO they were inadequetly funded by Washington. How did your reps and senators vote on this matter?

What about that story of... (Below threshold)

What about that story of the barge ramming the levee? I heard it a few times and it seemed like a more plausible cause but once the news guys moved on --well, we get no further investigation.

That was bogus that's why it disappeared. There was no barge at the 17th street canal.

There WAS a barge at the Industrial Canal break but it floated THRU the existing break.


Here is an article that giv... (Below threshold)

Here is an article that gives more details about the winds.


or a shortened version


There is a good graphic on the right hand side that maps it out. It is clear to see why MS got it so hard compared to NO.

The 17st levy failed in what was probably Cat 3 storm surge. The Industrial canal levy was overtopped so it saw more than Cat 3 storm surge or it could be a miscalculation of the amount of surge coming up MRGO (fill it in would be my advice).

I heard or read during Rita that a lesson from Katrina was a very strong hurricane (Cat 4 or 5) approaches in the Gulf and then it drops to Cat 3, the storm surge will still be at or near the higher Cat.


I recall searching the weat... (Below threshold)

I recall searching the weather data early last month and seeing an indication that Katrina had dropped to a Category 2 storm before it hit New Orleans. I didn't bother mentioning it on my blog as I couldn't confirm it, I felt the truth would come out eventually, and that the Cat2/Cat3 difference didn't matter much.

Not until today have I heard it suggested that Katrina could be considered only a Category 1 storm. However, I think I did post a link to wind data in my blog that showed max winds in NOLA of ~95mph during the storm; that link is outdated and useless now. Probably archived info is available somewhere; maybe that's Powell's source. I think I captured the data plot at the time, but it'll take me a couple of days to access those records. But I don't think that matters so much; what matters is how strong the hurricane was over Lake Pontchartrain, where the storm was certainly stronger.

This was a case of keeping ... (Below threshold)

This was a case of keeping the lie alive. Black people need to get off of theirs and correct the bs. Leonard Pitt ranted and raved about black treatment and racism. Everything that was presented by the media and Ray Nagin was a lie. Now, where is the demand for accountability and truth? No where to be found. Why? Because it doesn't serve the hypocrisy of the leaders that blacks have chosen - if they keep their hate alive - founded on illusions and their own hatred of anyone not black, then they cannot get special treatment and free money. The sad part being that the real money only goes to the most corrupt chosen few amoung them.

Over and over we heard that if it had been whites, scandinavians/norwegians to be exact (can't get any whiter than that) then the government would have been there immediately. Well TENET corporation employees would beg to differ. There were 4000 people evacuated from hospitals in the flood waters. The hospital were IN FACT under seige from the gangs - because of supplies and mostly drugs. Those white people DID have to protect the entries with their own weapons. Those white peole did see LOTS of death 45 dead. Those white people along with whatever other racial mix of people that were unfortunate enough to be there; did have to create a system to ration food. They hauled the sick up to the roofs of the buildings. Those people were told by the government that NO evacuation would be performed by the government. They did get private help, including Ross Perot's help and all were evacuated after four days. Do the math and more than 4 people out of every 100 died. Superdome math is one ONE of every 2500. Which scenario, in reality is more traumatic?

The difference is that the very worst demographic of people were thrown together in the Superdome. They were a collection of generational welfare citizens, a mass of people who have never made a positive contribution to society and who have no desire to change. They have waited on the government to take care of every aspect of their lives... a monthly allowance, food stamps, medical treatment, free school lunches, someone to take those masses of children off their hands for eight hours a day by warehousing them in the crummiest school system in the United States... free babysitting, if you will. They created in their own "wards" the hooligans and freaks that then turned on them and robbed and looted in the crisis. They therefore could not cope with being on their own, in a chaotic situation. Many have chemical alcohol and drug problems... look at the arrest and crime statistics for proof. Can you imagine being stuck in that place where a large percentage of the population was going through an unplanned detox? So rumors abounded throughout and circulated as truth and they refused to cooperate with one another. They were afraid of one another...and they did what they have always done, screamed and yelled for the government to fix their situation.

Now we have simply farmmed out this population to be a burden on different states. Newspaper article after article were about 2 people getting married that had 5 children but one could not locate their other 3. What??? Or a mother of three children who was 22 and her oldest was 6??? She once had a job at a Wendy's???? Excuse me , we are handing her vouchers and a three month FEMA allowance to a new apartment... why??? Blabbering over and over about the grandmothers - did you catch the ages of these matriachs? 50, 55, 49... hello - that is my age range - some were not even AARP eligble. So now we re-spin this to redefine elderly? Obese sick people that had let their health decline, and were traumatized by relief efforts because it's harder to get someone out that needs to be lifted by six men versus walking on their own.

Poverty is an evil but it does not excuse moral deficiency and corruptness.

Nagin and Blanco are traitors, they need to be tried for treason and punished. The media is disgusting. Rebuilding is stupidity.

When I think of new Orleans I think of perversity not cajun food or jazz - you can get that at any resturaunt and cd store around. The only good thing that could come of this would be to rid the country of a corrupt an evil place - it was cleansed and ruined all in one moment. Leave it under water.

Well, as a MS Katrina survi... (Below threshold)

Well, as a MS Katrina survivor (Gulfport) I have a few things to say.

First off, what does it matter that the winds are Cat 3 or Cat 4 or, dare I say it, Cat 1? This is like debating whether you got shot by a 22 Cal or a 50... you still got shot. It doesn't matter what size the bullet was.

Second, how many of you have seen the destruction down here first hand? Tell me. Because I can tell you now it isn't that pretty stuff shown by the national news media.

Third, people lost possessions, homes, friends, and family. Tell them that it was a Cat 1 and that they should be happy it wasn't worse. Believe me... they'll be thrilled. I also believe that the recategorization of the storm will miraculously fix all the broken lives and homes... get real.

I think some of you are missing the point here. This was a major catastrophe. It doesn't matter what caused it or how powerful it was. What does matter is the aftermath and what is done to bring it back to normal.

For those arguing about the facts of the storm and accountability, keep on. But, for those wanting to downgrade and write-off what happened to the people of this region, I would wish the same upon you, but I'm not that kind of person.






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