Katrina Retrospective: 5 Years After the Storm

Narration: Jefferson Beck


[ music ] [ music ] August 29, 2005. After passing over the Caribbean, Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Gulf of Mexico. By the time the skies cleared, Katrina had killed more than 1800 people, caused roughly $125 billion in damages, and went down as one of the strongest storms to hit the U.S. in a century. Five years later, NASA revisits Katrina as captured by NASA satellites. While these images can't tell the whole story of the hurricane and its impacts, they remind us of the power and destructive nature of tropical cyclones. In the weeks leading up to Katrina, NASA's Aqua satellite captures sea surfaces temperatures with the AMSR-E instrument. Warm ocean temperatures, indicated in red, provide energy to fuel the growing storm. As Katrina moves, it leaves a trail of cooler water in its wake, stirred up from below. Two days before landfall... NASA's MISR instrument on the Terra satellite witnesses growing cloud tops as the storm gathers strength. Just before landfall... the TRMM satellite at "hot towers" - powerful thunderstorms that help propel Katrina to category 5 strength. The same satellite reveals heavy rains. Green means at least a half inch of rain is falling per hour. Yellow, an inch. Red, over two inches per hour. As the hurricane sweeps through, TRMM's multi-satellite analysis reveals where the hurricane delivered the heaviest rain, shown here in yellows and reds. Finally, Landsat satellite imagery shows the extent of flooding in New Orleans. First, the city before the storm, with Lake Pontchartrain to the north. Two days after the storm made landfall, much of the city is flooded by the catastrophic levee failures. Today, Landsat sees a city still rebuilding from the storm. [ music ] NASA satellites continue to provide detailed observations of tropical cyclones around the world - to better understand how they work, and so we can prepare for those yet to come. [sound effects]