Hurricane Katrina struck the United States’ Gulf Coast in August 2005, becoming one of the country’s most devastating natural catastrophes. The fate of New Orleans, in particular, garnered international headlines.
Catastrophe followed by an announcement
It didn’t come as a complete surprise. New Orleans citizens had long worried that their city would be insufficiently shielded from the effects of a powerful hurricane. In computer models, scientists at the University of Louisiana forecast the downfall of the southern metropolis as early as 2002.
Human activity in the marshlands of the Mississippi estuary, according to scientists, was one reason for the inadequate protection. With Katrina on August 29, 2005, came the assurance that the predictions had been right.
Worst concerns were realized.
Professor Jochem Marotzke, head of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, agrees, “The fears that had been harbored for a long time came true.” “Because this is the richest country in the world, and a city the size and importance of New Orleans, the effects were all the more stunning.”
Katrina reached the coast at a speed of roughly 280 kilometers per hour, smashing over the 450,000-person city. The levees breached at 150 meters in the afternoon, and the flood masses rushed into the center. In addition, severe rains fell, washing people, automobiles, and entire houses away.
The water level surged to 7.60 meters in the city, which is naturally bordered by water on three sides (Mississippi, Gulf of Mexico, and Lake Pontchartrain). The downtown area was inundated to the tune of 80%. New Orleans was cut off from the rest of the world; there was no running water, no electricity, and looting, rioting, and gunshots were commonplace.
The relief systems have completely failed.
“Seeing all the things that were not feasible was fantastic,” says storm expert Marotzke. “The response to the incident was utterly overwhelming. Thousands of spectators were trapped in a football stadium with no way out.”
The National Disaster Relief Coordination Center has been chastised for being slow to respond and failing to organize relief efforts. “At the very least, the hurricane’s impact could have been lessened,” Marotzke believes.
According to the US National Weather and Oceanographic Administration, at least 1,800 people died and $125 billion in damage was caused. Around a million people were displaced, mostly in the US states of Louisiana and Mississippi.
It was claimed that the neighborhoods of the white middle and higher classes were mostly safe, while the poorer black population became the primary victims of the calamity.
More hurricane research is required.
Authorities, without a doubt, reacted too late, causing evacuation and relief efforts to be delayed. Even meteorologists, however, had underestimated Katrina’s catastrophic power.
“Katrina made landfall on the Florida peninsula, then weakened and drifted out to sea. The hurricane developed a tremendous amount of intensity there. We don’t yet have a strong idea of how this strengthening will affect us. We can accurately forecast the path of such hurricanes, but not their strength “Jochem Marotzke reveals.
The interactions between the highest water layer and the hurricane, according to the experts, could be the key to understanding this, thus more research is needed.
Hurricanes are becoming more common.
Experts are divided on whether what happened in New Orleans will influence other cities and coasts in the future. “There is some evidence that more hurricanes may occur in the future, but the evidence is not conclusive. We don’t have enough accurate comparative data yet, despite the strong signs “According to Marotzke.
Furthermore, he claims that no global climate model can yet anticipate powerful hurricanes while taking global warming into consideration. “At this time, there are no computers with the necessary capabilities.”
Consequences for the rest of the world
Katrina demonstrated that a tropical hurricane may affect the World. The hurricane wrecked drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and four weeks later, another hurricane named Rita wreaked even more havoc.
As a result, oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was halted, resulting in a spike in European crude oil and gasoline prices. “This demonstrates the links and their consequences,” Marotzke emphasizes. “Moreover, the example offers a suitable response to the question of how much climate research is required.”