Home Natural Hazard Management Hurricane Katrina leaves behind a trail of devastation

Hurricane Katrina leaves behind a trail of devastation

Hurricane Katrina severely pounded the Gulf Coast of U.S. with great force at daybreak on the 29th of August. Arriving with 145 mile an hour wind speed, the storm left more than a million people in three U.S. states without power and submerged highways. Hurricane Katrina, formed in the Bahamas in mid-August and struck South Florida on 25 August, killing nine people and leaving a million more without electricity.

European Space Agency’s multi-sensor Envisat satellite has gathered a unique view of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico. Envisat simultaneously acquired these images at 1550 UTC (1150 US Eastern Daylight Saving Time) on 28 August, with its Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) and Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR). While an optical image shows characteristic spiralling cloud patterns, a simultaneous radar observation pierces through the clouds to show how Katrina’s 250-kilometre-an-hour winds scour the sea surface. At the time of acquisition Hurricane Katrina was a maximum Category Five on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Further ESA acquisitions are being prioritized because the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters has been activated. The eye of the hurricane was seen clearly in both images, with the wall of the eye clearly visible in the MERIS image, the area of the hurricane where the fastest winds and highest rainfall is found.