TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Katrina Called Most Destructive U.S. Storm Ever

Katrina Called Most Destructive U.S. Storm Ever

Randolph E. Schmid (
Thu, 15 Sep 2005 22:16:05 -0500

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer

Hurricane Katrina has become the most destructive such storm ever to
strike the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration said Thursday.

Katrina's sustained winds reached 175 mph and its minimum central
pressure dropped as low as 902 millibars -- the fourth lowest on record
for an Atlantic hurricane, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center

The storm weakened slightly before it reached landfall and had less
powerful winds than Hurricane Camille, which devastated coastal
Mississippi in August, 1969.

But the size of Katrina, with hurricane force winds extending 120
miles from its center, was much larger and the destruction more
widespread than Camille.

The central pressure in a hurricane is a good indicator of the
strength of the winds of the storm. The strongest observed hurricane
in the Atlantic basin was Gilbert in 1988 with a pressure of 888
millibars in the northwest Caribbean. Normal average sea level air
pressure is 1,016 millibars.

Katrina was the 11th named storm of a busy season, first striking
southern Florida on August 25 as a Category 1 storm. It quickly
re-intensified once it moved west into the warm Gulf waters, which
were 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. It's the evaporation from
warm ocean waters that provides energy for hurricanes.

Estimates so far are that Katrina cost the Gulf Coast area at least
$125 billion in economic damage and could cost the insurance industry
up to $60 billion in claims, a leading risk assessment firm said in
updated estimates released Friday.

That's significantly higher than the previous record-setting storm,
Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which caused nearly $21 billion in insured
losses in today's dollars.

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Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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