The Atlantic hurricane season of 2005 was the most active and devastating on record. Hurricane Katrina first emerged over the Bahamas on 23 August before moving west, clipping southern Florida. At this stage it was a category 1 storm on the Saffir-Sampson scale with wind speeds of 74–95 miles (119–154 km) per hour. It gathered intensity and moisture over the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall in Louisiana on the morning of 29 August as a category 4 storm, with maximum wind speeds exceeding 118 miles (275 km) per hour. Katrina did not actually hit New Orleans directly, but the 10 inches (25 cm) of rain and massive tidal surge accompanying the storm overwhelmed the city’s flood defences, a system of levees and seawalls. Most of New Orleans is below sea-level, and within 24 hours, 80 per cent of the city was underwater. Nearly 2,000 people died, and over $100 billion of damage was caused.
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