Katrina stronger than Camille

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 10:52 PM GMT on August 28, 2005

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The 6:30pm EDT NOAA Hurricane Hunter mission found a central pressure of 904 mb, up from the 902 measured at 3:30pm. These pressures make Katrina the fourth strongest hurricane ever, and the strongest hurricane ever observed in the Gulf of Mexico, surpassing Camille. However, the winds of Katrina are 165 mph, far from Camille's 190 mph winds at landfall.

Although the pressure has stopped falling, there is no indication that Katrina is about to undergo weakening, like we saw yesterday during her eyewall replacement cycle. When that cycle started, the eye diameter was 9 nm, but the present eye diameter is 28 nm. Eyewall replacement cycles usually begin when the eye shrinks below 10 nm, and there are no indications that Katrina's eye is going to shrink.

The list of strongest hurricanes of all time now reads:

Hurricane Gilbert (888 mb, 1988)

The Great Labor Day Hurricane (892 mb, 1935)

Hurricane Allen (899 mb, 1980)

Hurricane Katrina (902 mb, 2005)

Hurricane Camille (905 mb, 1969)

Landfall location and intensity
Katrina has continued to expand in size, and now rivals Hurricane Gilbert and Hurricane Allen as the largest hurricanes in size. When hurricanes reach such enormous sizes, they tend to create their own upper-air environment, making them highly resistant to external wind shear. The global computer models are not really hinting at any wind shear that might affect Katrina before landfall, and the only thing that might weaken her is an eyewall replacement cycle. Even if one of these happens in the next 12 hours, the weakest Katrina is likely to get before landfall is a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds. Katrina is so huge and powerful that she will still do incredible damage even at this level. The track forecast has not changed significantly, and the area from New Orleans to the Mississippi-Louisiana border is going to get a catastrophic blow. I put the odds of New Orleans getting its levees breached and the city submerged at about 70%. This scenario, which has been discussed extensively in literature I have read, could result in a death toll in the thousands, since many people will be unable or unwilling to get out of the city. I recommend that if you are trapped in New Orleans tomorrow, that you wear a life jacket and a helmet if you have them. High rise buildings may offer good refuge, but Katrina has the potential to knock down a high-rise building. A 25 foot storm surge and 30 - 40 foot high battering waves on top of that may be able to bring down a steel-reinforced high rise building. I don't believe a high rise building taller than six stories has ever been brought down by a hurricane, so this may not happen Monday, either. We are definitely in unknown waters with Katrina.

I have focused on New Orleans in much of my discussions about this storm, but Katrina will do tens of billions in damage all along the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Mobile Bay could well see a 10-foot storm surge. And inland areas will take heavy damage as well; Katrina will still be a hurricane 180 miles inland, and cause widespread flooding throughout the Tennessee Valley.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you in Katrina's way, and I urge all readers of this blog to do the same.

Jeff Masters

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1157. Levi32
4:52 AM GMT on June 22, 2006
One more blog crash before I go lol!
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26778
1156. crawdaddy031
5:29 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
not a crash, dehydration from too long w/o water....
1155. crawdaddy031
5:25 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Fox is now reporting bus crash with three deaths. Very sad...
1154. Nado
5:18 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
News of the 3 Baton Rouge deaths reported at www.nola.com
1153. crawdaddy031
5:12 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
53rd where did you get the report of the deaths? I am not getting any confirming secondary reports. Thanks
1152. crawdaddy031
5:11 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Doppler is showing sustained 50 to 60 mph winds from the ESE going thru NO. Pasc
1151. santarosa
4:48 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
No way it's coming here! This is making me far more edgy and nervous than riding out Ivan & Dennis.
1150. Gatorbait05
4:46 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Where do you see that Recon
1149. 53rdWeatherRECON
4:45 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
TOO MANY PEOPLE STILL ON THE ROADS!!!!!! I am really getting choked up.....
Member Since: August 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 80
1148. PascMississippi
4:44 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
no telling, i'm guessing through early morning, as long as i have power and/or a telephone line, plus battery power.
1147. 53rdWeatherRECON
4:44 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
3 in Baton Rouge died evacuating.

Please God watch over there souls.
Member Since: August 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 80
1146. AySz88
4:43 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Some helpful links:

Projected Flooding from Katrina

WWLTV/KHOU webcast (switched operations to Baton Rouge) (Open in Windows Media Player)
CBS affiliate; guest had claimed WWL was the only remaining news feed out of NO
Alternate: KHOU Server

New Orleans Long-Range Radar Loop (Alternate Presentation)
NO Radar Analyzed on Wunderground (for tornadoes, etc.)

VORTEX Recon Decoder (Raw)

GOES Ch.4 IR Loop (Updates every 30 min)
GOES-12 Interactive Map (Updates every 15ish min; set options then click hurricane in picture to animate)

Lake Pontchartrain & Area Water Levels (1, 2, 3)
Near-Katrina Buoy Measurements

New Orleans Winds (click a site, then "Real-Time")
(Direct link to real-time winds at WWL-TV)
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 17
1145. spewey
4:43 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Hello, new poster watching from the Tennessee Valley, but have been reading this blog for several days. Sending best wishes and prayers to NO, where we got engaged 15 years ago at Brennan's. Such wonderful memories and our prayers go out that the city will somehow avoid the brunt of the worst and we can see it again in its glory.

Middle Tennessee is under an inland tropical storm watch for Tuesday; weather stations here calling for 45mph winds with higher gusts, five inches of rain or so. Nothing compared to what the LA/MS coasts will face, but driving across the state, I noticed the massive reservoirs were spilling water down the spillways to provide for extra storage. TVA and CoE hate to do that--every gallon spilled is a lost watt from power production--but they are preparing for the worst. Unfortunately, all this water is headed downriver--and will be in New Orleans in a few days. Hopefully, by then, the river levels there will have dropped (unless the Mississippi breaches its levee into the Atchalafaya and leaves NO on a little creek.
1144. afs
4:42 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
The WWL news net feed isn't being run off a standard pay commercial server. They relocated to the LSU Communications School, and the net feed is being put out through the LSU academic web infrastructure. A major univeristy like LSU has big macho web servers as well as significant independent electric generation capacity. We should be able watch WWL through this feed through most of the worst of the storm.
Member Since: August 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
1143. pseabury
4:42 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Switch over to new blog post please.
Member Since: May 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
1141. pseabury
4:41 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
In that shaky WVUE video feed they keep showing on fox, you can see waves crashing up over the back of the parking lot every now and then.
Member Since: May 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
1140. Gatorbait05
4:41 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Pasc how long do you think you'll have internet?
1139. crawdaddy031
4:41 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
here is the latest discussion for you PASC. also looks like we lost Sat/vis/1 for a bit.
1137. richandcoup
4:40 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
1135. morriganfla
4:40 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Seems to me a little late to be telling fire-ant disaster stories NOW...the people still in NO can't really get out safely now, can they?
1134. 53rdWeatherRECON
4:40 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Correction. Her pressure will drop!!!! She is still intensifing. The highest convection is wraped around and the Eyewall has actually tightened up again maybe 24-26 miles 30 at most. But this is a new Huge eye.
Member Since: August 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 80
1133. pseabury
4:39 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
feed direct from KHOU has been 30 mins solid for me...not a single dropout.

Member Since: May 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
1132. fortlauderdalegirl
4:39 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Richandcoup -- Can you post the RECON you're seeing??
1131. PascMississippi
4:39 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
i am still in goula, just further inland, higher up and in a rock of a house
1130. Orleans77
4:38 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
OIL in Signapore now up to 73.25
1129. susiel
4:38 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
For those of you that lost the live feed, the last forecast said that due to Katrina's size and strength, the storm is not being as strongly impacted as the trough to the west as they originally thought. Thus, she isn't moving to the east and might not.
1128. Gatorbait05
4:38 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Pasc where did you relocate to?
1127. 53rdWeatherRECON
4:38 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Camile had a central pressure of 908 and winds of 200mph sustained?? Her winds are catching up to her pressure and her pressure might just drop 1 more time before landfall.
Member Since: August 5, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 80
1126. AySz88
4:38 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
This is weird, I think they're trying to shuffle around servers between http://www.wwltv.com/cgi-bin/bi/video/makeadplaylist.pl?title=beloint_khou&live=yes and the KHOU feed . I can't seem to keep either feed up for more than a couple minutes.
Member Since: August 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 17
1125. richandcoup
4:37 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
looks like a double wall forming according to recon
1124. PascMississippi
4:37 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
okay folks, i am soley depending on this blog for reports as i have no television and radio cannot be played at the moment (people asleep). any new info is greatly appreciated.
1123. Stormgator
4:36 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
These predictions for New Orleans are starting to sound like the scenes from Isaac's Storm by Eric Larson. Good Lord, I hope it is not that bad.
1122. leftyy420
4:36 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
recon should be in real soon
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
1121. Orleans77
4:35 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
cane u cut and pasted almost word for word...the fire ants were especially chilling/.

man..this biblical..apocolyptic...revelatiosn kind of stuff
1120. Canenut
4:35 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
I'm going deaf or I can't hear him either.
1118. leftyy420
4:34 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
i feel she will atleast not lose much of anymore strength. this sucks someone tell them we can niot hear the phone call on the feed man. want to know what happened at the no office. sothing happened and they are evacing out now
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
1117. Manny
4:34 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Does anyone know when we cna expect the next report from a RECON flight?
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 6
1116. Weather89
4:33 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
can u guys here mike ross (the caller) on the live tv feed? He's inaudible on mine
1115. Canenut
4:33 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Wow Orleans, sorry! lol
1114. Orleans77
4:33 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Canenut..are you reading my mind buddy...
1113. Orleans77
4:32 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
evryone is now reporting estimates of 60 to 80% buildings in NO will be destroyed
1112. Weather89
4:32 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
what do you think the chances are that she re-intensfies before landfall. My gut feeling with the ERC and the light wind shear is that she wont be able to reintensify and that there will be some slight weakening leading up to landfall.
1110. leftyy420
4:31 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
something must have happened at th other office than

landfall around 7am
Member Since: August 24, 2005 Posts: 35 Comments: 1987
1109. Orleans77
4:31 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
From CNN now:

Floodwaters from the east will carry toxic waste from the "Industrial Canal" area, nicknamed after the chemical plants there. From the west, floodwaters would flow through the Norco Destrehan Industrial Complex, which includes refineries and chemical plants, said van Heerden, who has studied computer models about the impact of a strong hurricane for four years.

"These chemical plants are going to start flying apart, just as the other buildings do," he predicted. "So, we have the potential for release of benzene, hydrochloric acid, chlorine and so on."

That could result in severe air and water pollution, he said.

In New Orleans, which lies below sea level, gas and diesel tanks are all located above ground for the same reason that bodies are buried above ground. In the event of a flood, "those tanks will start to float, shear their couplings, and we'll have the release of these rather volatile compounds," van Heerden added.

Because gasoline floats on water, "we could end up with some pretty severe and large -- area-wise -- fires."

"So, we're looking at a bowl full of highly contaminated water with contaminated air flowing around and, literally, very few places for anybody to go where they'll be safe."

He went further.

"So, imagine you're the poor person who decides not to evacuate: Your house will disintegrate around you. The best you'll be able to do is hang on to a light pole, and while you're hanging on, the fire ants from all the mounds -- of which there is two per yard on average -- will clamber up that same pole. And, eventually, the fire ants will win."
1108. Gatorbait05
4:31 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
Orleans, what are they mirroring?
1107. SouthernFootprints
4:30 AM GMT on August 29, 2005
PAC where did you move to? I'm in Hattiesburg
Member Since: August 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 70

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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