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New data suggests that Katrina was weaker than thought

New data currently being examined by NOAA's Hurricane Research Center suggests that Katrina may actually have made landfall as a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 115 mph, instead of the Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds that she was believed to be. By this same line of thought, the winds that reached New Orleans were only Category 1 force at 95 mph. This has far reaching implications for our understanding of storm surge. We know that the Gulf Coast saw huge storm surge, especially in Mississippi, and would not expect that size surge out of a Category 3 storm. Also, it implies that winds of only Category 1 strength managed to breach the New Orleans levees in 3 different places. The levees were designed to withstand Category 3 winds. Even the original official estimates place sustained winds barely above hurricane strength in New Orleans, where the urban roughness slowed the wind. This would not be the first time the hurricane center changed intensity estimates after landfall.In 2002, Hurricane Andrew was re-estimated to be a Category 5 storm, ten years after landfall.


Posted by Bryan Woods | Permalink