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What Caused Hurricane Katrina?

George W Bush

What Caused Hurricane Katrina? George W Bush was the 43rd American President who served in office from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009. One of the important events during his presidency was the devastating weather phenomena called Hurricane Katrina.

What Caused Hurricane Katrina?
One of the most frequently asked questions concerning this devastating natural disaster is "What caused Hurricane Katrina?". To answer this important question it helps to know a little about hurricanes in general and what causes them. This article contains facts and information about hurricanes and the cause of Hurricane Katrina.

Discover the path of Hurricane Katrina and why it weakened in intensity moving from a Category 5 hurricane until it was eventually downgraded to the status of a 'tropical depression'. Hurricane Katrina began on August 23, 2005 with winds of 157 mph and finally ended on August 31, 2005 as the sustained winds dropped below 39 mph. For additional facts and information about the Environmental, Social and Economic effects of the catastrophe refer to Facts about Hurricane Katrina.

Facts about Hurricanes for kids: Definition
Definition: A hurricane is an intense storm with powerful winds and heavy rain that usually form in tropical areas of the world. The word "hurricane" is derived from the Mayan god Hurakan, who destroyed humans with great storms and floods. A hurricane can be six miles high and 600 miles wide. Each hurricane usually lasts for over a week. Hurricanes generally move from 10-20 miles per hour over the open ocean. Hurricanes obtain their "fuel" by gathering heat and energy through contact with warm ocean waters. An area of calmer weather lies in the centre of the hurricane, known as the ‘eye of the storm’ however, winds around the eye are usually the strongest.

Facts about Hurricanes for kids: How Hurricanes are formed
Hurricanes only form on warm ocean waters of about 80°F in areas of low pressure (warm weather, storms and rain).

  • Inside the area of low pressure the ocean is warm and heats the air above it. The warm air rises until it cools and condenses forming thunder clouds and rain, which in turn warms the surrounding air

  • As the warm air rises, more air moves in to replace it. More clouds and rain form and more warm air is pushed upwards

  • As the clouds join together they start to spin.  This is the beginning of the hurricane which is like a spinning top

Facts about Hurricanes for kids: The Difference between Hurricanes, Cyclones and Typhoons
Other names for a hurricane include typhoon and cyclone. Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are all are all the same weather phenomenon - the different names indicate where the tropical storm took place.

  • Tropical storms that form in the Atlantic or Northeast Pacific (near the United States) are called hurricanes

  • Tropical storms that form near in the Northwest Pacific (near Japan) are called typhoons

  • Tropical storms that form in the South Pacific or Indian oceans are called cyclones

In the North Atlantic or Northeast Pacific, the hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30.

Facts about What Caused Hurricane Katrina?
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on What Caused Hurricane Katrina?.

On August 23, 2005 the temperature of the ocean off the coast of the Bahamas hovered around 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

An area of low pressure formed and a spinning wheel of thunderstorms gathered strength, feeding on the heat and moisture

The winds hit 39 mph and Hurricane Katrina was born

Katrina moved slowly at first, increasing in speed, getting stronger and heading toward Florida

Hurricane Katrina was a category 1 when it fleetingly hit the Florida peninsula on August 25, 2005, with 80 mph winds and then spun out into the Gulf of Mexico.

The water in the Gulf of Mexico hit 87 degrees Fahrenheit which caused Katrina to grow even more intense

As Katrina swirled over the warm waters of the Gulf on August 28, she grew into to a Category 5 hurricane by August 27, with winds of 160 mph with a storm surge over 20 feet high

As Katrina made landfall the intensity of the tropical storm began to decrease without its water vapor "fuel"

Katrina made landfall in Louisiana at 6:45 AM local time on August 29, 2005 as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of 127 miles per hour. New Orleans was devastated

Katrina weakened to a Category 3 status as it hit near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana with sustained winds of 125 mph

As the hurricane made its second landfall on the Mississippi/Louisiana border, wind speeds were approximately 125 mph

Katrina maintained strength well into Mississippi, finally losing hurricane strength more than 150 miles inland near Meridian, Mississippi

It was downgraded from a hurricane status to a tropical depression near Clarksville, Tennessee and its effects continued across  Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio. A tropical depression produces maximum sustained winds below 39 mph

Rain bands from Katrina also produced tornadoes causing further damage in areas such as Georgia

Other areas across the United States were affected by the weather phenomena which eventually ended on August 31, 2005 when its remnants were last distinguishable in the eastern Great Lakes region.

It was absorbed by a 'frontal boundary' as less dense air rose up and over the colder air ahead of the front. The cold and warm air masses interacted resulting in an 'extratropical storm' which moved rapidly to the northeast and affected eastern Canada

The strongest winds produced by Hurricane Katrina were over the coastal areas of Louisiana and Florida.

Hurricanes can create tornadoes. Thirty-three tornadoes were produced by Hurricane Katrina over a five-day period, that mainly affected Georgia.

The center of the hurricane, which is called the eye, is usually calm with low winds. Katrina's eye measured a 35 mile diameter, an above average size for the eye.

Katrina was the most deadliest hurricane in the United States since the Okeechobee Hurricane that hit Palm Beach on September 16, 1928 along Lake Okeechobee and the Galveston Hurricane of 1900.

US American History
1990 - Present: The Modern Era
Hurricane Katrina

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