Tropical Storm called Isaac almost became as strong as hurricane Monday night, closing on the Gulf Coast with a landfall, a day short of the anniversary of the destructive Hurricane Katrina.
Isaac’s tropical storm force winds and rain will pose a major test of New Orleans’ new flood control systems, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Meteorologists showed the storm likely to make landfall late on Tuesday near southeastern Louisiana.
Barack Obama has already declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, making available federal funds for recovery activities such as clearing debris.
The governors of Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama have declared emergencies in their states, claims BBC.
Due to the bad weather conditions, the Republican Party was force to delay by a day the start of its national convention in Tampa, Florida.
The devastating storm killed at least 24 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and wrought significant flooding and damage in the Caribbean.
“Isaac is likely to become a hurricane later today. Additional strengthening is forecast until the center moves inland,” the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 4 a.m. CDT (0900 GMT) advisory.
This summer’s storm was expected in the southern part of New Orleans on Tuesday night, and was predicted to come ashore as a Category 1 hurricane with top winds of about 90 mph.
“Even if it is a tropical storm at landfall, the large size of it will still generate significant storm surge,” Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb told reporters. “That is life-threatening potentially.”
As CNN reports, the Katina seventh anniversary was leaving much of the Gulf Coast with “a high level of anxiety,” as New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu put it Monday.
Isaac is forecast to be weaker than its most famous predecessor Katrina, a Category 3 hurricane with 125-mph winds.
However, New Orleans is preparing to face swirling winds by midnight Monday, and while Isaac may veer off its currently projected course.
“It seems to be settling into a pathway and a speed that is becoming predictable,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said it Monday.
“It is quite ironic that we have a hurricane threatening us on the seventh anniversary of Katrina,” he said. But he added that as of Monday afternoon, “There is nothing this storm will bring us that we are not capable of handling.”
Along Canal Street in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter, crews were boarding up the windows of stores and businesses, Reuters writes.
“I’m not all that concerned about the storm. It’s still a Category 1,” said Charles Neeley, a 69-year-old contractor overseeing workers covering the windows of a CVS drugstore. “We usually ride out ones and twos, and get the hell out for threes and fours.”
Still, Neeley revealed that he had stocked up on food and water at home and fuel for his generator.
“Our flights were canceled so we’re going to be here,” said Karen Foley, a tourist who had planned to travel home to New Jersey with a friend. “We are just hoping the city doesn’t get hit again. It doesn’t deserve it.”