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Tuesday, Aug. 23

The system that became hurricane Katrina began on Aug. 13 hundreds of kilometres east of Antigua as Tropical Depression 10 but fell apart in less than a day. Its low-pressure wet remnants slowly drifted into a favourable environment near the Turks and Caicos Islands, however, and re-formed 10 days later to become Tropical Depression 12 -- which means it's the 12th this year.

The Bahamas issues a tropical storm warning for its central and northwest regions and thunderstorms stretching from Cuba to the Bahamas.

A forecast calls for the storm to hit Florida by Friday with hurricane-force winds, as meteorologists note that "steady intensification appears to be in order."

The price of oil and gas futures jumps almost immediately with word that energy production on the Gulf Coast could be disrupted.

Wednesday, Aug. 24

The wind speed of tropical depression 12 surpasses 34 knots, making it tropical storm Katrina, the 11th named storm of the year. Last year, only five named storms had formed by this date.

The first hurricane warning is posted for Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the rest of southeast Florida and the Florida Keys, but forecasters predict the rains will be worse than the expected 120 km/h winds when it lands, likely Friday.

MTV says it has plans in place to deal with rough weather ahead of its Video Music Awards in Miami Sunday.

Today is the 13th anniversary of hurricane Andrew, the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history.

Thursday, Aug. 25:

In the morning, Katrina douses central Bahamas, flooding parts of the capital before moving on to Florida.

Authorities recommend that people leave the Florida barrier islands, and some schools in the Broward County area close.

The storm is upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane at 3:30 p.m., and hits land in Southern Florida around 6:30 p.m., eight hours earlier than forecast.

Eleven people are dead due to the storm, many from trees falling on them or in weather-related traffic accidents.

Boats tear loose from their moorings, small aircraft are flipped and a Boeing 727 is pushed into a runway fence.

Nearly three million people are left without electricity.

Friday, Aug. 26:

Katrina is briefly downgraded to a tropical storm and heads out over the Gulf of Mexico where it recharges, becoming a Category 2 hurricane.

A dozen petroleum production platforms and eight drilling rigs in the gulf are evacuated, but the flow of oil and natural gas is uninterrupted.

The National Hurricane Center projects the storm's track will start to curve north early Saturday and strike Monday somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and Southern Louisiana.

Mississippi and Louisiana governors declare states of emergency to make it easier to implement emergency procedures, including evacuations.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin says he's alarmed about the storm's potential path and the lack of time to fully prepare. "This storm really scares me."

Saturday, Aug. 27:

A hurricane watch goes into effect for the southeastern coast of Louisiana, including New Orleans.

Officials issue mandatory evacuation orders for coastal areas and voluntary evacuation orders for others. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a test. This is the real deal," Mayor Nagin warns.

There are long lineups at gas stations and on highways, where lanes in both directions are directed out of town.

At least 100,000 people in New Orleans, a city of 485,000, are said to lack the transportation to get out of town.

The White House declares a state of emergency in Louisiana.

Officials open the Superdome as a shelter of last resort, but stress that citizens should head out of town if possible. "We don't anticipate having to turn people away," the mayor's spokesperson says. "But [staying in the dome]should not be a situation that you're counting on."

"I don't remember seeing conditions as favourable as this for a strengthening hurricane for a long time," the director of the National Hurricane Center says.

Sunday, Aug. 28:

Katrina intensifies into a Category 5 over the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, with 300 km/h winds and threats of a 10-metre storm surge.

New Orleans hotels, which in the past had offered accommodation to local residents seeking "vertical evacuation" by moving to high-rises instead of leaving the city, choose to accept only tourists unable to flee.

Ten thousand people pour into the Superdome as Mayor Nagin warns residents not to expect comfortable conditions inside, saying power outages could last for days.

He issues an emergency order giving state and local authorities the right to commandeer private buildings and vehicles -- including boats -- as they see fit.

Coastal casinos close at 2 a.m.

A Pentagon spokesman asserts that the Gulf States have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs.

Monday, Aug. 29:

Katrina hits land as a weakened Category 4 hurricane, but the eye misses New Orleans by about 30 kilometres, sparing the city the brunt of its high winds and rainfall. "I was so happy that the worst-case scenario didn't unfold," Mayor Nagin says.

The early death toll is at least 55.

Winds and debris shatter scores of windows in New Orleans high-rise office buildings and on five floors of the Charity Hospital, forcing patients to be moved to lower levels.

Up to seven metres of water stands in one poor New Orleans neighbourhood.

In another, an estimated 40,000 homes are swamped.

Power is knocked out to more than 750,000 people from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, and authorities say it could be two months before electricity is restored to everyone.

Power in the Superdome fails at around 5 a.m. Three hours later, the wind tears away metal and leaves two holes in the roof, one five to seven feet long.

Early estimates put hurricane Katrina's damage at up to $26-billion (U.S.).

Tuesday, Aug. 30:

Two levees break and send water coursing into the streets of New Orleans.

An estimated 80 per cent of the below-sea-level city is underwater, measured at up to six metres deep in places, with blocks and blocks of homes swamped.

Harrison County in Mississippi says they have at least 100 dead. Some speculate the toll will rise over 1,000.

Rescue and recovery workers bypass the bodies found in homes and floating in the floodwaters to concentrate on rescuing survivors from rooftops and flooded attics.

Looting begins, with some people taking necessities like food and drink while others take guns, electronics and other valuables -- sometimes in full view of police.

The Superdome population swells to as many as 25,000 people as conditions deteriorate without electricity or running water.

A teen arrives at a New Orleans clinic by boat after giving birth outside a downtown hotel.

Several women give birth to babies during the storm and its aftermath -- none of the babies are known to have been named Katrina.

Wednesday, Aug. 31

A top UN humanitarian official says hurricane Katrina is far worse than last December's tsunamis in Asia, but good preparation and quick evacuation meant that far fewer people have been killed along the U.S. Gulf Coast than the estimated 180,000 who died in 11 countries in Asia.

New Orleans Mayor Nagin says the death toll is "minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."

He orders the entire city evacuated, saying it will be months before people can return.

The federal government dispatches helicopters, warships and elite Navy seal water-rescue teams to pluck residents from rooftops in the last of the "golden 72 hours" rescuers say is crucial to saving lives.

Six children needing serious medical care are taken to a Dallas hospital.

Outside one pharmacy, thieves commandeer a forklift and use it to push up the storm shutters and break through the glass.

Looters pick through casino slot machines for coins.

Hundreds of people wander up and down shattered Interstate 10 -- the only major freeway leading into New Orleans from the east -- pushing shopping carts, laundry racks, anything they could find to carry their belongings.

Thursday, Sept. 1

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it may need up to 80 days to drain the floodwaters from New Orleans.

National Guard and military troops go into the city to restore order with instructions from Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to shoot to kill.

More than 20 countries, from allies Germany and Japan to prickly Venezuela and poor Honduras -- even blockaded Cuba -- offer to help the United States cope with the hurricane aftermath.

Buses begin transporting the estimated 25,000 refugees stranded at the Superdome to another dome in Houston, but the removal is stopped several times because of gunfire.

Dogs are not allowed on the buses, and had to be left behind. A police officer takes one from a little boy, who cries until he vomits.

Without food, water or any aid, the 15,000 to 20,000 people who took refuge at the convention centre turn angry. There are reports of beating and rapes. At least seven bodies were scattered outside.

A National Guard military policeman is shot in the leg as he and a man scuffle for the MP's rifle.

The White House asks Congress for $10.5-billion (U.S.) in emergency disaster relief.

Aid agencies tally more than $90-million (U.S.) in private donations.

Friday, Sept. 2

The first major convoy of relief trucks carry supplies into the centre of New Orleans with food, water and medicine.

A thunderous explosion before daybreak sends a pillar of acrid grey smoke over the city as other large fires erupt downtown.

At the broken levee along Lake Pontchartrain, helicopters drop 1,360-kilogram sandbags into the breach and pilings are pounded into place to seal off the waters.

The Superdome is emptied of people, but at their destination in Houston many are turned away after the Astrodome is declared full. Other emergency centres are opened.

New Orleans Mayor Nagin gives an angry interview, saying to other politicians: "Get off your asses and let's do something."

Opposition Democrats bitterly attack the response of the White House, with accusations of racism. "I am ashamed of America. I am ashamed of our government," one congresswomen says.

The death toll in Louisiana remains unknown, but Mississippi reports 147 are dead, while Florida reports 11, Alabama two and Georgia two.

One person is killed and 17 others are injured when a bus carrying them from the Superdome swerves across a highway median and overturns.