The Wrath of Mother Nature:
April 2, 2013
James McAuley, 7718263
The initial response or lack thereof, to the widespread disaster in the Gulf Coast, caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, demonstrated high levels of disorganization by disaster preparedness and relief organizations, and showed indefinitely that without proper disaster preparation and mitigation, mother nature can transform affected areas of a first world country into a wreckage. Images of hundreds of thousands of people awaiting rescue on their rooftops, or packed into the New Orleans Super Dome circulated the globe, and for the first time in recent history, the ability of a fully developed nation; the number one world power at the time, to recover from a humanitarian disaster of such magnitude, was tested. By definition, a natural disaster is an extreme event triggered by destructive forces occurring in nature that causes significant disruption to society (Abbott and Samson, 2012). Although the series of meteorological events that are known collectively as Hurricane Katrina are no doubt a natural disaster in themselves, the human action that resulted in widespread devastation provide an unnatural element that must be recognized. The Life and Times of Katrina
Hurricane Katrina began its life as Tropical Depression Twelve, which formed over the South-Eastern Bahamas, on August 23, 2005 as the result of an interaction of a tropical disturbance generated on the West coast of Africa, and the dissipated storm Tropical Depression Ten in the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone. This occurred in the Leeward Islands, west of Puerto Rico, where the two storms merged in the upper troposphere, bringing heavy rain. The disturbance was blown West by the Trade Winds, and was upgraded to tropical storm status on August 24. It was at this point that the name Katrina was assigned to the storm (Knabb et al, 2005)
As is the norm for all tropical storms, the Katrina storm was heavily monitored, as the vulnerability of the Gulf Coast area to Caribbean Sea type hurricanes is greatly increased due to the high number of people living in or visiting coastal towns and cities, which lie very close to sea level, and are thus more susceptible to flooding and over-wash (U.S.G.S, 2012). The tropical storm moved slowly in a northwestern direction, before being upgraded to a category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale about two hours from the East coast of Florida on August 25, where a well-defined eye and heavy rain bands were first observed (Knabb et al, 2005). With sustained wind speeds of 82 miles per hour, and only approximately six hours spent over land, few deaths and moderate flooding occurred in Florida, accompanied by an average of five inches of rain, with much more in some locations (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2005). The storm was downgraded to tropical storm status at this time, but regained Category 1 hurricane status within an hour, and Category 3 status, with sustained winds of 109 miles per hour, within 12 hours of entering the Gulf of Mexico (Knabb et al, 2005).
Upon reaching Category 3 status, the intensification of the storm was delayed by an eye-wall expansion, which caused the enlargement and relocation of the eye relative to the rest of the storm, on August 27. This also caused the hurricane to nearly double in size, followed by a rapid intensification in wind speeds. Katrina was upgraded to Category 5 status on August 28, registering peak wind speeds of 175 miles per hour, and minimum central pressure of 902 millibars. These measurements made Katrina the fourth-largest Atlantic Hurricane and the largest in the Gulf of Mexico ever, at that time (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2005).
Katrina lost intensity very slightly, but sustained Category 4 wind-speeds around 150 miles per hour for the next...
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