Hurricane Katrina slammed ashore early Monday and charged toward this low-lying city with 145-mph winds and the threat of a catastrophic storm surge.The storm made landfall between Grand Isle, Louisiana, and the mouth of the Mississippi River. That's about 70 miles south-southeast of New Orleans and 95 miles south-southwest of Biloxi, Mississippi.
The storm had weakened slightly, but forecasters warned that it still was an "extremely dangerous storm" with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph. The storm was moving towards the north at 15 mph.
Between 20,000 and 25,000 residents who remained in the city took shelter in the Louisiana Superdome, lining up for what authorities warned would be an unpleasant day and a half at minimum.
About 70 percent of New Orleans is below sea level and is protected from the Mississippi River by a series of levees. (Full story)
Forecasters predicted the storm surge could reach 28 feet; the highest levees around New Orleans are 18 feet high.
Hurricane warnings are posted from Morgan City, Louisiana, eastward to the Alabama-Florida state line, including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. This means winds of at least 74 mph are expected in the warning area within the next 24 hours.
A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch are in effect from the Alabama-Florida state line eastward to Destin, Florida, and from west of Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. A tropical storm warning is also in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, west to Cameron, Louisiana, and from Destin, Florida, eastward to Indian Pass, Florida.
Isolated tornadoes are also possible today across southern portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, forecasters said.
Three residents of a New Orleans nursing home died Sunday while being evacuated to Baton Rouge.