WAS HURRICANE KATRINA "THE BIG ONE"
that scientists have long been predicting?
Since the Florida storm of 1928 that killed more than 1,500 TIME has been reporting on deadly storms and helping readers know why the worst storms might be still to come.
The carnage in Florida came as a surprise to those who read the early reports. With the hurricane, centering at West Palm Beach, the barometer dropped to 27.57, believed to be the lowest reading ever recorded in the U. S. During the first frenzied days of relief work the death total reached at least 1,500. Unnumbered thousands were injured, 15,000 were homeless, and property losses of $50,000,000 or even $75,000,000 seemed likely.
Oct. 1, 1928
With smoke from the funeral pyres drifting lazily along the flat horizon of his State, stocky Governor Dave Sholtz of Florida quoted an estimate of the fatalities as 1,000, demanded to know why the veterans were not moved out before the hurricane hit, sourly declared that there was 'great carelessness somewhere.'
From Wind, Water & Woe
Sep. 16, 1935
More destructive hurricanes have bombarded U. S. shores, but never has a hurricane struck a region so thickly populated and so unprepared. Inattentive to weather reports, many a landsman had his first intimation that the wind and rain were more than an equinoctial storm, when he had a 'funny feeling' in his ears—the effect of sudden low pressure, like that of going up in an elevator.
From Abyss from the Indies
Oct. 3, 1938
Manhattan's piles of steel and stone, its solid brownstone houses stood firm, but the city's intricate, antlike pattern of existence failed. The hurricane moaned between skyscrapers in 95-mile-an-hour gusts. Water crept into the subways and trains stalled; thousands of people stayed in downtown buildings, watching the storm crash through the stone canyons. Up & down Long Island and through Westchester County huge old trees were uprooted bodily, usually falling south.
From The Great Whirlwind
Sep. 25, 1944
The bayou folk swam, clung, gasped and prayed for their lives. Those lucky enough to reach specks of dry land found only more terror: with them were alligators and water moccasins, tossed out of the torrent, snapping and striking in their fury.
From Audrey's Day of Horror
Jul. 8, 1957
In New Orleans, America's most hedonistic city, the humid air last week was laden with the stench of death, the streets overlaid by a fetid crust of mud. Day after day, as the floodwaters seeped back into the Mississippi, armed police and health crews pursued the macabre task of recovering human bodies and countless animal carcasses.
From Up from the Deluge
Sep. 24, 1965
Last week the Caribbean produced a homicidal harridan with the deceptively gentle name of Camille. Camille visited on the Southeastern U.S. wind, rain, and floods of such unexpected scale that Dr. Robert Simpson, head of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, called it 'the greatest storm of any kind that has ever affected this nation, by any yardstick you want to measure with.'
From Killer Camille: The Greatest Storm
Aug. 29, 1969
Between its gentle birth and welcome demise, Hugo carved an awesome arc of destruction in a 2,300-mile sweep from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe to the Carolinas.
From Winds Of Chaos
By Ed Magnuson
Oct. 02, 1989
With winds up to 164 m.p.h., Andrew proved more expensive than Hugo, which ripped through the Carolinas in 1989, and more destructive than any of the recent California earthquakes -- in sum, the costliest natural disaster in American history.
From Mother Nature's Angriest Child
Sep. 7, 1992
Catastrophes may come by surprise, but it is no surprise that they come. Their victims cannot expect the government to prevent them or even always predict them, only to know what to do when they arrive.
From Catastrophe 101
By Cathy Booth
Sep. 14, 1992
The scientists' pet nightmare is of the Big One--a catastrophic storm that could do $100 billion dollars' worth of damage and kill thousands of people. No one knows when or where the Big One will hit, but the certainty is growing that it will.
From Waiting For Hurricane X
By Erik Larson
Sep. 7, 1998
What, if anything, does this unnerving spate of extreme weather signify? Is it just a meteorological fluke, a one-season anomaly? Or could it signal a potentially devastating long-term trend?
From Hurricane Onslaught
By J. Madeleine Nash
Sep. 11, 1995
Despite the damage inflicted by Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and the near miss of Andrew in 1992, New Orleans is still a place where the primary meaning of hurricane is a fruity rum drink the law lets you carry openly as you carouse in the French Quarter. While the grimmest of the doomsayers warn that New Orleans could be the next Atlantis, some laid-back residents are saying that it could just as easily become the next Venice and that after the deluge, the good times won't roll--they'll float.
From The Big Easy On the Brink
By Adam Cohen
Jul. 10, 2000
As the tattered remains of Hurricane Isabel blew off over Canada last week, the once formidable Category 5 storm left in its wake not only flooded streets, downed power lines and grieving families but also a sense of rising menace. That's because a growing number of scientists believe that conditions favorable for brewing more and even bigger hurricanes in the Atlantic locked into place about eight years ago and will probably persist for at least a decade and maybe longer.
From Storm Surge
By J. Madeleine Nash
Sep. 29, 2003
It may be weeks before the lights come back on and months before New Orleans is mopped out, a year before the refugees resettle in whatever will come to function as home, even without anything precious from the days before the flood. But it may take even longer than that before the nature of this American tragedy is clear: whether the storm of '05 is remembered mainly as the worst natural disaster in our history or the worst response to a disaster in our history. Or both.
From The Aftermath
By Nancy Gibbs
Sep. 12, 2005
Photos and Graphics
Should blame be portioned out according to power--or proximity? And what about the legions of elected officials and bureaucrats stacked in between, the ones who are supposed to form a human chain from city hall to the Oval Office?
From 4 Places Where the System Broke Down
Sep. 19, 2005
Complete Coverage: After Katrina
City officials do not want a repeat of the hellish conditions at the Superdome and the Convention Center, where thousands of people sought shelter after Katrina. The images and tales of people stranded in the shelters without lights, air conditioning or adequate food and water supplies have lingered long after the storm.
From New Orleans' Plan for the Next Hurricane: Leave
By Russell McCully
May 2, 2006
Governor Kathleen Blanco, reacting to the "senseless slaying" of five teenagers in New Orleans over the weekend, promised Monday to send National Guardsmen and state police to patrol the city's hurricane-ravaged streets yet again [EM] nearly 10 months after Hurricane Katrina. She also warned parents in the city to keep their teenagers off the streets and "out of trouble" as gangs return to reestablish their turf.
From Calling out the National Guard [EM] Again [EM] in New Orleans
By Russell McCully
Jun. 19, 2006
Though the areas of most interest to visitors got through Katrina pretty much intact, the haunting images (including tourists trapped in hotels) and constant media attention left over from Katrina has kept the bulk of sightseers from returning.
From Will Bourbon Street Bring the Tourists Back to New Orleans?
By Russell McCully
Aug. 25, 2006
Call it "Katrina stress" or the "Katrina funk", but it's all too real [EM] and it has real implications for the future health of the city. While the physical devastation of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina has been well documented, the psychic toll is just becoming clear. The suicide rate has nearly tripled, depression is common, domestic abuse is on the rise, and self-medicating with booze is a favored method of forgetting.
From The Storm Lingers On: Katrina's Psychological Toll
By Cathy Booth Thomas
Aug. 28, 2006
While many of the companies that made it through the storm could stand to benefit from the city's recovery, he says, Katrina may have hastened the loss of high-paying energy jobs.
From New Orleans' White-Collar Exodus
By Russell McCully
Jul. 6, 2007
At the heart of the dispute is an aging weather satellite, known as QuickScat, named for the scatterometer that measures wind speed and direction. Proenza has argued for months that QuickScat, which was launched in 1999 and is well past its lifespan, needs to be replaced as soon as possible.
From Storm Rages in Miami Hurricane Center
By Tim Padgett
Jul. 6, 2007
In fact, if anyone thought that FEMA's reputation for its handling of Katrina couldn't get any worse, they only had to listen to Stewart and others testify at Thursday's hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Dozens of pages of internal FEMA e-mails released by the committee revealed the agency's deliberate ignorance of field staff who were concerned about formaldehyde gas being emitted in trailers housing displaced residents.
From Grilling FEMA Over Its Toxic Trailers
By Gilbert Cruz
Jul. 19, 2007