WeatherKatrina Bashes Gulf Coast
By Jon Moskaitis
Ferocious Hurricane Katrina made landfall in extreme southeast Louisiana early yesterday morning, packing maximum sustained winds estimated at 140 mph (225 km/h). The minimum central pressure at the time was 918 millibars, the lowest for any tropical cyclone to strike the United States since Hurricane Camille in 1969. The center of the storm then made its way north along the swampy eastern coast of Louisiana, with the western eyewall skirting the eastern suburbs of New Orleans. It finally came ashore for good near the Louisiana/Mississippi border, raking the Mississippi coast with winds estimated at 125 mph (201 km/h) and a storm surge near 30 feet (9 m). Katrina continued to trek north through Mississippi for the remainder of the day yesterday and last night, causing flooding rains in much of the state.
While maximum sustained wind speed estimates of landfalling hurricanes are often seen in the news (and here), little mention is typically given to the rather high uncertainty of these estimates. In an intense storm like Katrina, wind measurements from ground stations are typically unavailable due to power loss, disrupted communications, or anemometer failure. For example, the observing station closest to the landfall point of the Katrina stopped reporting six hours before the eye moved ashore, and the anemometer at the next closest station broke when the sustained winds reached 102 mph (164 km/h). Without these observations, the 140 mph (225 km/h) landfall intensity had to be estimated using only aircraft and radar measurement of winds well above the surface.
Today: Showers and thunderstorms; some with heavy downpours. High: 77�F (25�C)
Tonight: Rain. Low: 70�F (22�C)
Wednesday: Windy with showers and thunderstorms. High: 79�F (26�C)
Thursday: Rain possible early, then clearing. High: 82�F (28�C)
Friday: Partly cloudy, much less humid. High: 80�F (27�C)