Hurricane Katrina formed from a tropical depression with conditions of low pressure.
The sea temperatures were running 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. That's the fuel for the storms.
The gulf is warm not just at the surface, but deep below, from a great stream of warm water called the loop current. All that energy along with the warm water vapor at the surface feeds into the hurricane system, pushing its towering layers of circulating clouds higher and making the winds stronger.
Thursday, Aug. 25, 2005
- Tropical Storm katrina becomes a Category 1 hurricane and hits South Florida, killing about a dozen people and leaving 1.5 million homes without power.
Friday, Aug. 26
- Katrina passes into the Gulf of Mexico and aims at Louisiana and Mississippi, becoming a Category 2 hurricane.
- Louisiana governor Katherine Blanco declares a state of emergency.
Saturday, Aug. 27
- Katrina is upgraded to Category 3.
- At Blanco's request, President Bush declares a federal state of emergency for Louisiana, and gives FEMA authority to provide aid.
- Mayor Ray Nagin calls for a voluntary evacuation of New Orleans. The head of the National Hurricane Center, Max Mayfield, urges him to make the evacuation mandatory.
Sunday, Aug. 28
- Katrina is declared a Category 5 storm, the highest rating. The National Weather Service issues a warning for New Orleans, warning that once the storm hits, "most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks... perhaps longer."
- Nagin orders a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans.
- Traffic out of New Orleans slows drastically, due to increased volume.
- Buses, trains, and most airlines have stopped service to and from the area.
- 10,000 residents take refuge in the Superdome, the largest of ten "shelters of last resort."
- Bush declares a state of emergency for Mississippi and Alabama, and declares Florida a federal disaster area.
Monday, Aug. 29
- 6 a.m.: Katrina, now a Category 4 hurricane, makes landfall on the Louisiana coast.
- 11 a.m.: Katrina makes a second landfall near the Louisiana-Mississippi border as a Category 3 storm.
- Levees in New Orleans are breached, flooding parts of the city. Power is lost.
- Holes are ripped in the roof of the Superdome.
- Dozens are reported dead in Mississippi.
- Bush declares a major disaster in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and declares that "I want the folks there on the Gulf Coast to know... When the storm passes, the federal government has got assets and resources that we'll be deploying to help you."
- Blanco asks Bush for "everything you've got," without specifying what that means.
- FEMA director Michael Brown asks Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff for 1,000 personnel, giving them two days to arrive, while urging out-of-town rescue departments to stay away unless asked to assist.
- About 3,500 National Guard troops help New Orleans's 1,500 police officers with rescue operations.
- Gulf Coast refineries shut down.
- Terry Ebbert, New Orleans's director of homeland security, says that "Everybody who had a way or wanted to get out of the way of this storm was able to. For some that didn't, it was…