Please keep the citizens of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana in your thoughts and prayers.
Update 11:46 PM:
It's worse than Hurricane Andrew!
Katrina intensified into a Category 5 giant over the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 175 mph before weakening slightly on a path to hit New Orleans around sunrise Monday. That would make it the city's first direct hit in 40 years and the most powerful storm ever to slam the city.
Forecasters warned that Mississippi and Alabama were also in danger because Katrina was such a big storm, with hurricane-force winds extending up to 105 miles from the center. In addition to the winds, the storm packed the potential for a surge of 18 to 28 feet, 30-foot waves and as much as 15 inches of rain.
"The conditions have to be absolutely perfect to have a hurricane become this strong," National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield, noting that Katrina may yet be more powerful than the last Category 5 storm, 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which at 165 mph leveled parts of South Florida, killed 43 people and caused $31 billion in damage.