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Katrina Makes Way Into Mississippi, Alabama

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Katrina Makes Way Into Mississippi, Alabama

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Katrina Makes Way Into Mississippi, Alabama

Katrina Makes Way Into Mississippi, Alabama

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Hurricane Katrina may cause serious damage farther inland than many other hurricanes in the past. Katrina is losing strength as it moves inland, but it remained at a high hurricane strength for longer than most storms.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Katrina held its hurricane status for hours after making landfall. Flooding and wind damage have been reported even hundreds of miles inland. It is now a tropical storm; at last report, its top winds were 65 miles an hour. The storm made landfall in Louisiana this morning. It's traveling north through Mississippi this evening and should be in Tennessee tomorrow. As NPR's Jon Hamilton reports, forecasters say Katrina remains dangerous because it is so large.

JON HAMILTON reporting:

Over the weekend, satellite photos of Katrina showed a storm so large it dominated the Gulf of Mexico. And when the storm struck land, hurricane-force winds extended 120 miles in every direction from the storm's eye. That makes Katrina several times the size of, say, Hurricane Charley, which caused major damage along Florida's west coast last year. Forecasters say the larger a storm is, the longer it takes to lose strength after it reaches land. Katrina was a Category 4 hurricane when it passed over New Orleans this morning; it had winds of more than 140 miles per hour. Since then the storm has weakened a bit. But as Katrina approached Hattiesburg, Mississippi, this afternoon, it still qualified as a Category 2 storm with winds near 105 miles per hour.

Now Katrina is headed for northern Mississippi and Tennessee. Forecasters say the storm remains a hurricane and is likely to cause major damage in three ways. The first is wind. Even 50- to 75-mile-per-hour winds can down trees, destroy roofs and hurl projectiles through windows; that's especially true in areas where houses aren't built with hurricanes in mind. Few houses far from the coast have storm shutters or special reinforcement to prevent the roof from lifting off the walls, for instance.

Another problem will be water. Katrina has already dropped more than 10 inches of rain in some areas, and forecasters expect the storm to deposit an additional 5 to 10 inches along its track during the next day or so. That's likely to cause major flooding.

The final risk is tornadoes. Hurricanes often spawn tornadoes, and the National Hurricane Center has issued tornado warnings for several states in Katrina's path. Jon Hamilton, NPR News.

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