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Researchers downgrade Katrina

National Hurricane Center researchers have downgraded Hurricane Katrina to a Category 3 storm.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | December 23, 2005

National Hurricane Center researchers have downgraded Hurricane Katrina to a Category 3 storm.

Older storm reports indicated that Hurricane Katrina came ashore as a Category 4 storm on Aug. 29, packing winds of 140 mph. Yet in a Tropical Cycle Report released earlier this week from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), researchers say the storm was in fact a Category 3. They added that that information does not downplay the devastation the storm caused, however.

According to the report, "After reaching Category 5 intensity over the central Gulf of Mexico, Katrina weakened to Category 3 before making landfall on the northern Gulf coast. Even so, the damage and loss of life inflicted by this massive hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi were staggering, with significant effects extending into the Florida panhandle, Georgia, and Alabama. Considering the scope of its impacts, Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters in United States history."

The NHC creates Tropical Cyclone Reports for many of storms from the Atlantic Ocean each season, and it is not uncommon for researchers to downgrade or upgrade a storm after looking at more data.

The Hurricane Katrina report stated that while the storm was a Category 4 hours before it made landfall, its weakening to a Category 3 does not mean it didn't have the effect of a more powerful storm on the coast. According to the report, "Due to the large radius of maximum winds, it is possible that sustained winds of Category 4 strength briefly impacted the extreme southeastern tip of Louisiana in advance of landfall of the center."

For a brief moment while it was still in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katrina's low pressure made it the most powerful storm in history. That record was soon broken by hurricanes Rita and Wilma, however. Hurricane Wilma holds the record for lowest pressure ever recorded, yet it weakened before making landfall in southern Florida in October.

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Related Links:

NHC Tropical Cyclone Monthly Summaries

NHC Tropical Cyclone Reports

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