Meteorological History of Hurricane Katrina - Second and Third Landfalls

Second and Third Landfalls

See also: Hurricane Katrina effects by region

Katrina made its second landfall at 6:10 a.m. CDT on August 29 as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h) near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana. Because Katrina had just weakened from Category 4 and due to the shape of the coastline, sustained Category 4 winds likely existed on land while the eye was over water. At landfall, hurricane-force winds extended 120 miles (190 km) from the center, the storm's pressure was 920 mbar (27.17 inHg), and its forward speed was 15 mph (24 km/h). As it made its way up the eastern Louisiana coastline, most communities in Plaquemines, St. Bernard Parish, and Slidell in St. Tammany Parish were severely damaged by storm surge and the strong winds of the eyewall, which also grazed eastern New Orleans, causing in excess of $1 billion worth of damage to the city (see Effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans).

Original estimates indicated that Katrina had made this landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, with 135 mph (220 km/h) winds; however, as indicated above, the storm weakened just before landfall to Category 3 intensity. The reasons for this weakening are not completely known yet; while the eye-wall replacement cycle played a part, slightly increasing shear, dropping sea-surface temperatures, dry air on the western semicircle of the storm and interaction with the continental landmass also may have played a role in weakening the cyclone. This follows the trend of previous strong cyclones in the Gulf of Mexico: all cyclones with minimum central pressures of 973 mbar (28.73 inHg) or less have weakened over the 12 hours before making landfall in the Gulf Coast of the United States.

A few hours later, after weakening slightly, Katrina made its third landfall near the Louisiana–Mississippi border with 120 mph (195 km/h) sustained winds and 928 mbar (27.37 inHg) pressure, still at Category 3 intensity. Its minimum pressure at its second landfall was 920 mbar (27.17 inHg), making Katrina the third strongest hurricane on record to make landfall on the United States, behind Hurricane Camille's 909 mbar (26.85 inHg) reading in 1969, and the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane's 892 mbar (26.35 inHg) record.

Because the storm was so large, highly destructive eye-wall winds and the strong northeastern quadrant of the storm pushed record storm surges onshore, smashing the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast, including towns in Mississippi such as Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, Gautier and Pascagoula, and, in Alabama, Bayou La Batre. The surges peaked at 28 feet (8.5 m) in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and at 13 feet (4.0 m) as far away as Mobile, Alabama, which saw its highest storm surge since 1917. Storm surge was particularly high due to the hydrology of the region, the hurricane's extreme size, and the fact that it weakened only shortly before landfall. As Katrina moved inland diagonally over Mississippi, high winds cut a swath of damage that affected almost the entire state.

Read more about this topic:  Meteorological History Of Hurricane Katrina