Hurricane Katrina remains costliest US storm in history for 17 years straight

August proven to have monster storms as tropics heat up nearing peak of hurricane season

2005: Hurricane Katrina makes landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in southeast Louisiana. Katrina would go on to devastate much of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, killing more than 1,836 and causing more than $80 billion in damage. The most significant number of deaths occurred in New Orleans, which flooded after the city's levee system catastrophically failed, in many cases hours after the storm had moved inland. (NASA via Wikimedia Commons)

Florida – When thinking about monster hurricanes in seasons past, the names Camille, Andrew, Katrina, Harvey, and Ida to name a few, may come to mind.

All of these hurricanes brought devastation to the masses. All of these storms formed in late August.

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This graph shows the biggest increase in tropical activity in the Atlantic Basin. September 10th is the peak. (WKMG)

Mid-to-late August is a time of a noticeable uptick in tropical activity near the peak of hurricane season, which is Sept. 10 for the Atlantic Hurricane Season. According to the National Oceanic Aviation Administration, the most tropical activity occurs between mid-August and mid-October before slowing down and ending in November.

Hurricane Katrina for the last 17 years has held the title for the costliest storm on record for all U.S. hurricanes. The estimated cost of the event totaled $108 billion, which adjusted to 2022 Consumer Price Index is $186.3 billion.

Flooding in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina (2005). (NOAA Photo Library)

The progression of this storm was intense over a short period of time. A tropical depression formed over the southeastern Bahamas on Aug. 23, 2005.

A day later, Tropical Storm Katrina moved into the central Bahamas before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane along the southeastern Florida coast on the 25th. Three days later, as the storm moved west into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Katrina rapidly intensified to a Category 5 major hurricane.

(Courtesy NOAA/NHC)

Although Katrina weakened to a Category 3 before making landfall along the northern Gulf Coast, it was still a major hurricane that brought immense devastation.

By Aug. 31, 80% of New Orleans was under flood waters after the levees that separate the city from Lake Pontchartrain failed. Images of people waving for help from their rooftops and being pulled from flood waters were on every news outlet across the nation.

Rescue workers pulled a woman from the water who was hanging onto the roof to escape the rising flood waters from Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005, in New Orleans. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Storm surge ranging from 4-20 feet swallowed homes and businesses from Dauphin Island to Bayou La Batre. Numerous tornadoes spawned in the outer bands of Katrina, mainly on the eastern side of the well-defined eye, took down trees and caused extensive powerline damage.

The rain fell hard adding up to 5-10 inches with isolated areas seeing up to a foot or more of water.

The worst was the loss of life. Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams lists on confirmed victims along with death certificate data brought the number of deaths directly from Hurricane Katrina to over 1,800. These same reports showed the majority of the deaths were caused by acute and chronic disease and drowning, most died in private residences.

Hurricane Katrina impacted over 15 million people from evacuating their homes to the economy suffering including the rising gas prices.

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About the Author:

Emmy Award Winning Meteorologist Samara Cokinos joined the News 6 team in September 2017. In her free time, she loves running and being outside.