The Lookout

Isaac, now a hurricane, heads for New Orleans

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
The Lookout

Click the map for the latest forecast. (Weather.com)

Tropical Storm Isaac is now Hurricane Isaac.

The slow-moving storm, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, achieved hurricane status at approximately 12:20 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said:

...RECONNAISSANCE DATA INDICATE ISAAC FINALLY ACHIEVES HURRICANE STATUS...REPORTS FROM AN AIR FORCE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT INDICATE THAT MAXIMUM WINDS ASSOCIATED WITH ISAAC HAVE INCREASED TO 75 MPH...120 KM/H. ON THIS BASIS...ISAAC IS BEING UPGRADED TO A HURRICANE.

The Category 1 hurricane, positioned about 160 miles southeast of New Orleans, is moving northwest at 10 mph. Isaac is expected to make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday on Louisiana's Gulf Coast.

Wednesday marks the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in late August 2005.

[Slideshow: Hurricane Isaac]

Earlier ON Tuesday, President Barack Obama warned Gulf Coast residents in Isaac's path not to "tempt fate" by ignoring government warnings—including possible calls to evacuate—as he detailed his administration's preparations for the powerful storm. "Now is not the time to tempt fate, now is not the time to dismiss official warnings," Obama said in a statement from the White House before embarking on a campaign trip to Iowa and Colorado. "You need to take this seriously."

The hurricane warnings that were posted for the northern Gulf Coast continue, while hurricane watches are have been extended as far west as Intracoastal City, La.

And while Isaac doesn't have the winds of Katrina, the storm is expected to dump more than 20 inches of rain in some areas of Louisiana, forecasters said. And according to the National Hurricane Center, a storm surge between six and 12 feet could threaten the northern Gulf Coast if the storm makes landfall during high tide.

"Water components are often the more deadly and sometimes the more damaging," NHC director Richard Knabb said Tuesday.

[Related: Is New Orleans ready for Isaac?]

On Monday, President Obama declared a state of emergency for Louisiana, a day after Gov. Bobby Jindal declared ordered voluntary evacuations of more than a dozen parishes. Governors in Alabama and Mississippi declared states of emergency, too.

Federal Emergency Management Agency director Craig Fugate said there has been too much focus on New Orleans bracing for Isaac on the anniversary of Katrina, and not enough on the rest of the area in Isaac's path.

"I think people need to understand this is not a New Orleans storm," Fugate said. "This is a Gulf Coast storm."

Isaac was blamed for as many as seven deaths in Haiti on Saturday and forced the delay of the start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where GOP leaders are still mulling how to hold a convention as a hurricane concurrently comes ashore 600 miles away.

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