At the height of Hurricane Katrina, the storm surge along the Mississippi coast measured 27.8 feet. It was the highest storm surge ever recorded in the United States.
Beauvoir has had watch over the Gulf of Mexico for more than 150 years. And in that time, 19 hurricanes have hit the cost. But it was the storm urge from Hurricane Katrina that almost destroyed the landmark. The power of moving water was devastating.
Katrina created a huge surge that was greater than the category 5 storms of the last century. So Katrina made landfall as a category 3, produced about 27-foot storm surge in Mississippi. You contrast that with category 4 Charley which made landfall in Southwest Florida, produced only a 7-foot storm surge.
The difference between Charley and Katrina were the storm size. Katrina was huge, 400 miles across and was a category 5 in the Gulf. It piled up water. When you get to 27 feet of storm surge, it’s virtually utter and complete destruction.
Many people in the Gulf had no idea it would be this bad. But in all of this destruction, a better message will come out of Jatrina for future threats. Storm surge will be a separate warning from the Saffir-Simpson scale.
While the forecast from these historic storms were always quite accurate, it was the communication and understanding of the message which was being lost.