MIAMI -- Just after 6 a.m. CDT Aug. 29, Hurricane Katrina made landfall near the bayou town of Buras, La., as a strong Category 4 storm with winds near 145 mph.

When Hurricane Katrina made landfall Aug. 25 in south Florida, the storm was a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph. After crossing the state, the storm strengthened again over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Prior to making landfall today, Katrina reached Category 5 status, with wind speeds of up to 175 mph.

As of the latest advisory, Katrina measured in at a Category 2 storm with sustained winds near 105 mph as it made its way over southern and central Mississippi.

With the storm wreaking havoc on New Orleans, which is up to 10 feet below sea level in some places and surrounded by water on three sides -- the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain -- the National Hurricane Center was calling Hurricane Katrina a "potentially catastrophic hurricane."

According to published reports, parts of the city are flooded with up to six feet of water after some of the pumps failed and windows at several hotels were blown out.

The Louisiana Superdome, home of the National Football League's New Orleans' Saints, which acted as one of 10 last-resort temporary shelters for up to 10,000 displaced residents, suffered damage to its roof and lost power, leaving its refugees without air conditioning. According to a Superdome spokesperson, the structure and its temporary residents were in no immediate danger.

Elsewhere, Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss., were reporting widespread flooding and structural damage; and heavy flooding was being reported along Alabama and Floridas Gulf Coasts as well.

To contact TravelWeekly.com's Managing Editor Kimberly Scholz, send e-mail to[email protected].

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