Hurricane Katrina Case Study

Detailed notes on development, impacts and responses

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Megan
  • Created on: 15-01-14 10:26

Development & Tracking

  • 24th August - A tropical storm forms over the Bahamas. It tracks west, making landfall over Florida, weakening slightly when the ocean heat source was removed
  • 25th August - The storm tracks west into the Gulf of Mexico becomes a hurricane
  • The warm Loop current aids development and the Hurrican quickly becomes a category 5 hurricane
  • 28th August - the hurricane peaks with max sustained winds of 280km/h and central pressure of 902mb
  • 28-29th August - the hurricane tracks to the north and makes landfall in Buras, Louisiana as a category 3 hurricane
  • The hurricane tracks north through Louisiana and Mississippi, weakening as it does so
  • 30th August - the hurricane has decline to only a tropical depression as the  inner eyewall deteriorated
1 of 6

Physical Impacts

  • The 228k/h winds created a storm surge of upto 8.2metres which, when combined with over 250mm of rainfall, caused widespread flooding. This was exacerbated the low lying level of land that the Louisiana and Mississippi coastline occupies - part of New Orleans are below sea level 
  • Areas of western Mississippi were inundated with water 20km inland
  • The Mississippi river was so swollen that the artificially enhanced levees broke in over 50 places, flooding 80% of the New Orleans area.
  • 70% of all flooding is thought to be due breached flood defences
2 of 6

Human Impact

  • 1836 Deaths
  • Over US$81 billion in damages - costliest in US history
  • 1 million displaced
  • A year on only half the population had returned
  • 3 million with no electricity
  • 30 oil platforms damaged and 9 refineries were closed - production fell by 25%
  • 5300km2 of forest destroyed in Mississippi
  • Most homeowners have felt the cost through revised insurance premiums - many of which are so high that people can no longer afford  to live in the area.

The total economic impact  in Louisiana and Mississippi is approximately US$150billion

3 of 6

Environmental Impact

  • Severe Coastal Erosion - Dauphin Island was breached and much of the sand was transported into the Mississippi Sound, effectively shifting the island landwards
  • 560km2 of land in Chandeleur Islands have been submerged
  • Breeding ground were lost as 20% of the marshlands were inundated with sea water
  • Flood waters containing sewage, heavy metals, pesticides and 25million litres of oil were pumped in Lake Pontchartain
4 of 6


  • Before the hurricane made landfall, on the 28th, the mayor of New Orleans ordered an emergency evacuation of the entire city
  • The coast guard rescued 33,500 of the 60,000 people stranded in New Orleans
  • It took 3 days before Homeland Security was officially in charge of federal, state and local operations.
  • 30th August - Congress authorised $US62.3 billion in aid
  • FEMA coordinated the relief effort and volunteers for six months after
  • FEMA provided supplies as well as temporary trailers and refrigerator units to cope with the dead - they even paid for 12,000 people to stay in hotels
  • Only 1/5 of the required emergency trailers arrived in New Orleans
  • July 2006 - 100,000 people still living in trailers
  • 70 countries donated money - Kuwait alone donated $500million
  • American Red Cross raised US$4.25 billion from voluntary contributions
5 of 6

Critiism to the Response

  • The government took a long time to respond while people were stranded and dying from thirst, exhaustion
  • Looting broke out in the city because people were desperate for supplies
  • Poorer, black people living in the lower-lying land had been most affected and it has been seen by some that this is why the government responsed slowly
  • Police officers and emergency services were often protecting expensive properties away from the levees (property often belonging to the rich white community) instead of rescing and evacuating those who were more vulnerable
6 of 6


No comments have yet been made

Similar Geography resources:

See all Geography resources »See all Weather systems resources »