Tropical Storm Isaac is picking up steam and is expected to become a hurricane by the time it starts dumping rain on the northern Gulf Coast. The center of the storm is likely to pass over southeastern Louisiana by Wednesday – the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, according to the latest forecasts. It could become the first hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast since Ike in 2008.
WHERE WILL IT HIT? Although Isaac’s projected path had initially been tough to nail down, forecasters now have a better idea of where it will make a direct hit. As of Monday afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted Isaac would make landfall over southeastern Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane.
However, there that track could still veer farther west, or to the east in Mississippi. And regardless of where exactly it hits, Isaac will dump heavy rain as far east as Florida.
While people across the coast were boarding up their homes to prepare for winds that were expected to top 74 mph, the bigger fear from Isaac is the potential for flooding. Isaac could push storm surge as high as 12 feet into parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, and 1 to 3 feet high as far away as Florida’s west coast.
Isaac already left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean, most of it blamed on flooding that killed 24 people.
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
Isaac veered well west of the Republican National Convention site in Tampa, but it’s still been soggy in the bayside city. Protesters’ ranks have been small, in part because of the soaking brought on by Isaac and in part because of the huge police presence in the city.
The coming storm has also altered some Republican governors’ plans to attend. Florida Gov. Rick Scott canceled a speaking engagement, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley canceled their trips to Tampa.
Officials in Louisiana’s St. Charles Parish near New Orleans have told its 53,000 residents to leave ahead of the storm. Some coastal residents in Alabama have also been told to evacuate. However, officials haven’t ordered the kind of evacuations that have in the past clogged interstates, with both sides of the highway heading one direction. In New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said evacuations would not be ordered and told residents to hunker down.