Global Warming Affected Hurricane Katrina

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Hurricanes are tropical storms that are formed over the North Atlantic Ocean and the Northeast pacific. Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane that made landfall on Florida and Louisiana in August 2005, causing catastrophic damages, especially in the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and over 1,800 deaths.

Hurricane Katrina happened Early in the morning on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States. When the storm made landfall, it had a Category 3 rating on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale–it brought sustained winds of 100–140 miles per hour–and stretched some 400 miles across.

The hurricane affected Hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, they were displaced from their homes, and experts estimate that Katrina caused more than $100 billion in damage. It had a final death toll which was at 1,836, primarily from Louisiana (1,577) and Mississippi (238). More than half of these victims were senior citizens.

Hurricane Katrina began as a tropical storm that was formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005, on the 24th it then became a tropical storm as it moved into the central Bahamas, the storm continued to track west while gradually intensifying and made its first landfall along the southeast Florida coast on August 25th as a category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. The meteorologist warned the people living in the areas that a huge storm was on the way and by August 28 evacuations were underway across the region, on that day the weather reports had also predicted that after the storm the areas affected, mainly the gulf coast would become unsuitable for people to live in.

Many might say that the rising sea levels which are caused by global warming had a huge effect on hurricane Katrina because it increased the level of storm-induced surges even when the statistics of the storms, such as top wind speed, themselves remain stable. Storm surges are physically the same thing as tsunamis but driven by wind and atmospheric pressure rather than the shaking seafloor, and they typically arrive near the peak of the storm’s fury. 

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Global warming also affected hurricane Katrina in other ways such as the rising temperature of the earth, since 1880 the earth’s temperature has risen, global warming has increased the temperature of the ocean’s depth which contributes to the hurricane’s ferocity. It also causes more humidity in the air and fewer winds around the storm. That makes for greater rainfall during a hurricane. Thirdly, hurricanes now linger longer in place. Their pace has slowed down by 10% since 1949. Climate change slows weather patterns by decreasing the jet stream because the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the globe.

Hurricane Katrina had a large impact on the lives of people that lived in the affected areas, it led to a final death toll of 1,836, primarily from Louisiana (1,577) and Mississippi (238). The hurricane led to the destruction of over 300,000 homes and 3 million people were left with no electricity. The hurricane led to a lot of people evacuating the area (BBC 2020). Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed. There is an estimate that about 1.2 million people evacuated the metropolitan New Orleans region and that around 100,000 people remained in New Orleans and the remaining 10,000 people went to the Superdome shelter before the storm.

Hurricane Katrina affected over 15 million people in different ways varying from having to evacuate their homes, rising gas prices, and the economy suffering. Hurricane Katrina caused $81 billion in property damages, but it is estimated that the total economic impact in Louisiana and Mississippi may exceed $150 billion, earning the title of the costliest hurricane ever in US history. Hurricane Katrina led to the destruction of oil platforms and decreased tourism in the area. It cost about 300 billion dollars to repair damages. A significant part of the USA oil refining capacity was disrupted after the storm due to flooded refineries and broken pipelines, and several oil rigs in the Gulf were damaged. Thousands of jobs lost and millions of dollars in lost tax incomes.

One of the physical impacts of the hurricane is that it led to rising sea levels which created floods, the storm surges flooded large areas of the coast, 80% of New Orleans became flooded as man-made levees, overwhelmed by extra water, broke. It destroyed delicate coastal habitats and led to the creation of tornadoes. Agricultural production was damaged by tornadoes and flooding. Cotton and sugar-cane crops were flattened. Hurricane Katrina affected the health of the people who decided to stay in the flooded areas or the people who came in contact with the flood water they became ill, they were reports of people with skin rashes and blisters because their skin had been contaminated with the polluted water. The people who lived in the area also suffered from respiratory problems such as Asthma because they had been exposed to the fumes.

Before Katrina’s landfall, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) positioned an unprecedented number of resources in affected areas. The efforts that FEMA had put in before hurricane Katrina has exceeded that of any previous operation in the agency’s history, FEMA provided an astonishing total of 11,322,000 liters of water, 18,960,000 pounds of ice, 5,997,312 meals ready to eat meals (MREs), and 17 truckloads of tarps were kept at different strategic locations near and in the Gulf region before Katrina’s landfall. FEMA had also pre-positioned medical teams, medical supplies, and equipment, urban search, and rescue task forces (US&R) and incident support teams.

Few days before hurricane Katrina’s landfall on August 24 while it was still a tropical depression which strengthened to a tropical storm that became Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) activated its Hurricane Liaison Team (HLT), consisting of FEMA, NWS, and State and local officials. The HLT deploys to the National Hurricane Center to assist in the coordination of advisories with Federal, State, and local emergency management agencies, providing forecast updates and technical advice.

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