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. In the 2005 Atlantic season, Katrina was the eleventh tropical storm, fifth hurricane, third major hurricane, and second Category 5 hurricane.
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, D'Iberville, Ocean Springs, Gautier, Moss Point, and Pascagoula. In Louisiana, the federal flood protection system in New Orleans failed in more than fifty 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.
At least 1,836 people lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina and in the subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane. The storm is estimated to have been responsible for $81.2 billion (2005 U.S. dollars) in damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. The catastrophic failure of the flood protection in New Orleans prompted immediate review of the Army Corps of Engineers, which has, by congressional mandate, sole responsibility for design and construction of the flood protection and levee systems. There was also widespread criticism of the federal, state and local governments' reaction to the storm, which resulted in an investigation by the U.S. Congress, and the resignation of Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael D. Brown. Conversely, the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service were widely commended for accurate forecasts and abundant lead time.