Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States.
It was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest hurricane on record that made landfall in the United States.
Katrina formed on August 23 during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and caused devastation along much of the north-central Gulf Coast.
The most severe loss of life and property damage occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana, which flooded as the levee system catastrophically failed, in many cases hours after the storm had moved inland.
The hurricane caused severe destruction across the entire Mississippi coast and into Alabama, as far as 100 miles (160 km) from the storm's center.
Katrina was the eleventh tropical storm, fifth hurricane, third major hurricane, and second Category 5 hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic season.
It formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005, and crossed southern Florida as a moderate Category 1 hurricane, causing some deaths and flooding there, before strengthening rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico and becoming one of the strongest hurricanes on record while at sea.
The storm weakened before making its second and third landfalls as a Category 3 storm on the morning of August 29 in southeast Louisiana and at the Louisiana/Mississippi state line, respectively.
The storm surge caused severe damage along the Gulf Coast, devastating the Mississippi cities of Waveland, Bay St.
Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, and Pascagoula.
In Louisiana, the federal flood protection system in New Orleans failed in 53 different places.
Nearly every levee in metro New Orleans breached as Hurricane Katrina passed east of the city, subsequently flooding 80% of the city and many areas of neighboring parishes for weeks.
Katrina had a profound impact on the environment.
The storm surge caused substantial beach erosion, in some cases completely devastating coastal areas.
In Dauphin Island, approximately 90 miles (150 km) to the east of the point where the hurricane made landfall, the sand that comprised the barrier island was transported across the island into the Mississippi Sound, pushing the island towards land.
The storm surge and waves from Katrina also obliterated the Chandeleur Islands, which had been affected by Hurricane Ivan the previous year.
The lands that were lost were also breeding grounds for marine mammals, brown pelicans, turtles, and fish, as well as migratory species such as redhead ducks.Overall, about 20% of the local marshes were permanently overrun by water as a result of the storm.
See the following related content on ScienceDaily: