Isaac Becomes a Hurricane in Gulf of Mexico; Moving Toward Louisiana

Isaac formed into a hurricane Tuesday afternoon as it continued moving over the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

As of 11 a.m., Isaac had maximum sustained winds near 70 mph as it moved northwest at 10 mph about 80 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 165 miles south-southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana.

The center of Hurricane Isaac will be near of over the Louisiana coast Tuesday night or Wednesday, according to the NHC.

Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday he remained concern about flooding in the Panhandle but was confident

Although Isaac’s approach on the eve of the Katrina anniversary invited obvious comparisons, the storm is nowhere near as powerful as Katrina was when it struck on Aug. 29, 2005. Katrina at one point reached Category 5 status with winds of more than 157 mph, and made landfall as a Category 3 storm.

Still, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center warned that Isaac, especially if it strikes at high tide, could cause storm surges of up to 12 feet along low-lying areas.

In a brief news conference from the White House Tuesday, President Barack Obama urged residents of the Gulf Coast to listen to local authorities and follow their directions as Tropical Storm Isaac approaches.

Obama told Gulf Coast residents, “Now is not the time to tempt fate. Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings. You need to take this seriously,” he said.

In the Big Easy on Monday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu did not activate a mandatory evacuation.  Instead, officials urged residents to hunker down and make do with the supplies they had.

Federal officials said the updated levees around New Orleans are equipped to handle storms stronger than Isaac.

The hurricane warning from the Mississippi-Alabama border eastward to Destin, Florida is now a tropical storm warning.

A hurricane warning was in effect for east of Morgan City, Louisiana to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including metropolitan New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, while a hurricane watch was in effect for Intracoastal City to Morgan City.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Mississippi-Alabama border to Destin, Florida and Morgan City to Cameron, Louisiana. There was a tropical storm watch in effect for east of High Island, Texas, to just west of Cameron, Louisiana.

Meanwhile, in Tampa, the Republican National Convention was expected to start it’s first full day Tuesday, after Isaac forced organizers to delay most of the events on Monday.

NBC News Reports.

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