Hurricane Katrina in historical context

Hurricane Katrina in historical context

Hurricane Katrina was the third most intense to hit the United States in recorded history. In the Atlantic basin it achieved the status of the fourth lowest central pressure ever recorded (currently sixth). Its 30 foot (10 m) storm surge recorded at Biloxi, Mississippi is the highest ever observed in North America [] [] .



Katrina produced sperm above average rains for a tropical cyclone, with nearly 16 1/2 inches in lenghth falling between South Miami and Perrine in South Florida, with totals of up towards convert|15|in|mm in Louisiana.

A storm total rainfall map can be found here: []

By death toll

As of current tallies, Katrina is either the fourth or fifth deadliest storm ever to hit the United States [ NHC Katrina report] ] . However, as the process of collecting and identifying bodies continues, the death toll may still rise into second place, above that of the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane.

Other storms that killed many people in the U.S. include:
*The 1893 Sea Islands Hurricane, which killed 1,000–2,000 along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.
*The 1893 Chenier Caminanda Hurricane, which killed approximately 2,000 in southern Louisiana.
*The Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed an estimated 6,000–12,000.
*The 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane, which killed at least 2,500 people in the U.S. and over 1,500 in the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
*1957's Hurricane Audrey, which killed 390, with up to 160 more never accounted for.
*1969's Hurricane Camille, which killed 256.

Other deadly storms include:
*The Great Hurricane of 1780, which killed 22,000 in the Lesser Antilles.
*The 1970 Bhola cyclone, the deadliest tropical cyclone on record, which killed an estimated 500,000 people in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
*1975's Typhoon Nina, which killed tens or hundreds of thousands of people in China.
*The 1991 Bangladesh cyclone, which killed 150,000 people in Bangladesh.
*1998's Hurricane Mitch, the deadliest named Atlantic storm, which killed 11,000–18,000 people in Honduras and neighboring areas of Central America.

Other USA city devastations/disasters

Katrina also caused the first substantial devastation of a major American city since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fires. It should be noted that Hurricane Betsy in September 1965 did lead to portions of New Orleans being submerged for a week, which caused an increase in the height of the levee system.

Other disasters in New Orleans

This is the greatest disaster in New Orleans since its founding in 1718.New Orleans has a known history of frequent and recurrent brushes with hurricanes. On average, New Orleans has been brushed every 3.94 years. Direct hurricane hits have occurred every 13.4 years on average.( [] )

Other levee and flood disasters

No other levee breach in the USA has caused such a level of destruction or such an extensive evacuation. However, devastation in other parts of the world, caused by levee breaches, has been greater.

* The Johnstown Flood in 1889 killed 2,200 people when the South Fork Dam burst, submerging the city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The Johnstown flood was the first major peacetime relief effort for the Red Cross.
* The Great Mississippi Flood along the Mississippi River in 1927–1928 killed 246 people, left approximately 700,000 homeless, and destroyed or damaged 137,000 buildings []
* The 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane breached levees around Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida, causing flooding over hundreds of square miles and killing over 2,500.
* 1931 Huang He flood and following levee breaches killed millions.
* The Great Flood of 1993 along the Mississippi River killed 47 people, displaced approximately 74,000, and destroyed or damaged 47,650 buildings ( [] ).

Comparison to other evacuations/refugee crises

Other cities which have been evacuated are:
* In 2002 severe flooding led to the evacuation of 50,000 residents of Prague, Czech Republic, on 14 August [] , with a total of 200,000 Czechs during the second August week. [,,610496,00.html] . Also partially evacuated in the same week were the German city of Dresden (120,000 evacuees) [] and the town Bitterfeld (16,000).

* In January 2002, 300,000 residents of the city of Goma (Democratic Republic of the Congo) were evacuated in 3 days due to the eruption of the volcano Nyiragongo. [] [] []

* In April 2001, 77,000 inhabitants (around 2/3 of the population) of the Italian city Vicenza were evacuated for several hours so that an unexploded bomb, originally dropped in World War II, could be safely disarmed. []

* In 1999 the Kosovo War led to 800,000 refugees, not all of them urban residents, leaving Kosovo and being accommodated for up to 3 months in other parts of Europe.

* The Operation Storm in Croatia in 1991 conquered the separatist Republic of Serb Frontier after which a mass exodus of over 350,000 Croatian Serb people occurred.

* In April 1986 roughly 200,000 people were evacuated from Chernobyl area following a nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union).

* In November 1979 the city of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada was evacuated following a chlorine leak after a freight train derailed. 218,000 were displaced.

* In October 1941 a mass evacuation of Moscow was ordered in the face of the threat of the attacking German Wehrmacht. 2 million inhabitants were displaced from the city within two weeks.

* In September 1939, at the outset of World War II, London and major British cities were evacuated with 1.5 million displacements in the first 3 days of the official evacuation taking place reaching a final total of 3.75 million.

* The Great Fire that resulted from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake lead to the sea evacuation from the city on 20 April of 20,000 refugees. []

* In 480 BC the Greek officer of state and navy commander Themistocles ordered the evacuation of Athens as a strategic countermeasure to the approaching Persian army, leading to 100,000 inhabitants being displaced in the late summer.


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