19:24 29 August 2005
NewScientist.com news service
Hurricane Katrina eased up just a little before hitting the Louisiana coast of the US on Monday morning. But the hurricane picked a soft target – New Orleans has long been considered the US city at most risk from hurricanes.
Katrina formed in the Atlantic and reached hurricane strength just a few hours before hitting the Florida coast on Thursday night between Hallandale and North Miami Beach. Heavy rains flooded the low-lying area, and the hurricane briefly weakened on Friday morning before regaining strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
There Katrina grew into a powerful giant – almost 500 miles wide – and turned north toward Louisiana. On Sunday, sustained winds peaked at 175 miles per hour (280 km/h), making it a Category 5 storm – the highest on the scale. Its central pressure dropped to 902 millibars, making it the fourth lowest pressure ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin.
Only three Category 5 hurricanes have been recorded hitting the US. One of them, Camille in 1969, made landfall only about 120 miles (200 km) east of New Orleans. But this time the Gulf Coast was lucky, and Katrina weakened after mid-afternoon on Sunday.
The hurricane made landfall in Louisiana at 0610 local time (0710 EDT) as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of about 140 mph (224 km/h). It swept north across New Orleans to hit the southern coast of the state of Mississippi. Katrina is the third Category 4 hurricane to hit land in 2005, in what is predicted to be one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record. […]
Our take: Where is that high-tech simulation software running on multi million super-wow-computers analyzing data sent by satelites, forecasting and preventing damages? I wanna see some real 64bit computing power, quad core CPUs staffed with lots and lots of MBs of cache, optimized software and money on the table for situations not-like-tsunami and hurricane katrina! We don’t want people to get killed, right?!?