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NOAA MOBILIZES RESOURCES TO AID IN RECOVERY FROM HURRICANE KATRINA

NOAA image of the eyewall of Hurricane Katrina taken on Aug. 28, 2005, as seen from a NOAA P-3 hurricane hunter aircraft before the storm made landfall on the USA Gulf Coast.Aug. 30, 2005 NOAA quickly mobilized a wide-range of its resources immediately following Hurricane Katrina’s landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast. NOAA ships, planes and many experts are helping to assess the damage caused by the powerful storm that is responsible for widespread destruction and loss of life. (Click NOAA image for larger view of the eyewall of Hurricane Katrina taken on Aug. 28, 2005, as seen from a NOAA P-3 hurricane hunter aircraft before the storm made landfall on the USA Gulf Coast. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

NOAA pre-positioned Navigational Response Teams, or NRTs, which are mobile emergency response units equipped and trained to survey ports and nearby shore waterways immediately following the hurricane. These teams can be rapidly transported on a trailer and launched from them for a quick response. This is especially vital to New Orleans, La., and Mobile, Ala., two of the nation's major commercial ports. The NOAA Office of Coast Survey, working in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and local port management will be coordinating the response.

NOAA aerial image of south Plaquemines Parish, La., near Empire, Buras and Boothville where Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, at approximately 7:10 a.m. EDT.The Navigational Response Teams use multibeam, sidescan sonars and diving operations to check the port, river or sea bottom for submerged obstructions that could cause hazards to shipping. (Click NOAA aerial image for larger view of south Plaquemines Parish, La., near Empire, Buras and Boothville where Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, at approximately 7:10 a.m. EDT. The vessel pushed on shore demonstrates Katrina’s power. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

The NOAA National Geodetic Survey is using a NOAA plane to take aerial surveys of the impacted areas to assess for damage from erosion, such as occurred to the levees and major evacuation routes. These images will assist both in recovery operations, and long-term restoration and rebuilding decisions. The images will be made available to the public on a NOAA Web site on Wednesday.

NOAA aerial image of south Plaquemines Parish, La., near Empire, Buras and Boothville where Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, at approximately 7:10 a.m. EDT.The NOAA Office of Response and Restoration and Damage Assessment Center is deploying NOAA scientists and other specialists—in coordination with federal, state and local emergency centers—to assist in evaluating the damages to the many oil and chemical pipelines and platforms in the region. (Click NOAA aerial image for larger view of south Plaquemines Parish, La., near Empire, Buras and Boothville where Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, at approximately 7:10 a.m. EDT. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

Water levels, storm surges and flooding are a concern, and NOAA staff is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to coordinate the flow of appropriate information and data that will guide deployment of resources.

NOAA Hurricane Hunter Flies Day and Night Missions in Hurricane Katrina
The NOAA Gulfstream IV high-altitude surveillance jet flew six full-endurance missions and the WP-3D Orion flew four missions to support the track and intensity forecasting efforts of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction and National Hurricane Center. Starting with the first mission when Katrina was still a tropical storm in the eastern Bahamas, the crew flew daily between August 24 and August 28, using dropwindsondes to measure the environment surrounding the growing tropical cyclone. While conducting five daily missions and one overnight flight—when Katrina grew strongest and made the critical turn toward the Gulf Coast, the jet flew a total of 49.7 hours in five days. The NOAA crew launched 153 dropwindsondes covering 21,015 nautical miles of flight track.

NOAA aerial image of south Plaquemines Parish, La., near Empire, Buras and Boothville where Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, at approximately 7:10 a.m. EDT.Data from the Gulfstream IV, quality assured while aboard the aircraft, was fed by satellite communication directly into the primary NOAA forecasting computer models. These data helped the NOAA National Hurricane Center to first catch Katrina's turn toward the southwest as she reached hurricane strength just before the South Florida landfall. (Click NOAA aerial image for larger view of south Plaquemines Parish, La., near Empire, Buras and Boothville where Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, at approximately 7:10 a.m. EDT. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

The G-IV continued its storm coverage as the tropical cyclone re-emerged into the Gulf of Mexico and detected perfect atmospheric conditions surrounding the storm for rapid development. As Katrina reached Category Five hurricane status, the NOAA jet used dropwinsonde coverage to help the NOAA National Hurricane Center accurately define the range of hurricane and tropical storm force winds, while adding to the accuracy of the forecasted position and time of landfall on the northern Gulf Coast.

NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Katrina taken on Aug. 28, 2005, at 11:45 a.m. EDT when the storm was a Category Five hurricane.A full 60 hours out, the NOAA National Hurricane Center, assisted by these reports, had the New Orleans and Gulf Coast area well within the cone of strike probability. Twenty-four hours prior to landfall, the center of the forecasted track was approximately 15 miles off the actual track, and 12 hours prior, the forecasted track was less than 10 miles off. At approximately 7:10 a.m. EDT, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southern Plaquemines Parish, La., just south of Buras, as a Category Four hurricane with maximum winds estimated at 140 mph to the east of the center. (Click NOAA satellite image for larger view of Hurricane Katrina taken on Aug. 28, 2005, at 11:45 a.m. EDT when the storm was a Category Five hurricane. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.)

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Office of Coast Survey

NOAA Navigational Response Teams

NOAA Office of Response and Restoration and Damage Assessment Center

NOAA National Geodetic Survey

Media Contact:
Scott Smullen, NOAA, (202) 482-1097
(Photos of Katrina landfall courtesy of Ted Falgout, executive director, Port Fourchon, La.)
(Photo of Hurricane Katrina courtesy of Lt. Mike Silah, a NOAA P-3 pilot.)