Katrina, now a Category 4 hurricane with 230 km/h (143mph) winds, makes landfall near Buras, La., at 6:10 a.m. CT. Katrina rips two holes in the Superdome's roof, with some 10,000 people inside. At least eight Gulf Coast refineries shut down or reduce operations. Airports close in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, La., Biloxi, Miss., Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla. Hundreds of flights are canceled or diverted.
(Continued from Page A-1) - Katrina was upgraded to Category 5, the most severe on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength, yesterday morning, and is forecast to hit land as a Category 4 or 5. Only three Category 5 storms have hit the U.S., and a direct hit would devastate New Orleans, much of which lies below sea level just 100 miles upriver from the Gulf.
"The city of New Orleans has never seen a hurricane of this strength hit it directly, which is what it's projected to do," the Mayor said yesterday in a press conference. A storm surge "will most likely topple our levee system," and the city probably will lose electricity service, he said.
The Louisiana Governor said that the President asked her to ensure that there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. Interstate highways have been reversed to allow only outbound traffic.