Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Louisiana on Tuesday evening as a Category 1 storm, bringing with it wind gusts that reached speeds of up to 106 miles per hour off the state’s southeast coast. Isaac was upgraded to a hurricane from a tropical storm during the afternoon as it barreled its way through the Gulf.
Isaac headed back out into the Gulf after its initial landfall but is now on a course for New Orleans on the eve of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Residents who are hunkered down in the city are hoping the strengthened levees will hold this time.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he expects his city “will get the brunt of it.” Nola.com reported that the hurricane would arrive in New Orleans around 1 a.m., accompanied by high winds.
“We think that we’re well prepared,” Landrieu said at a briefing, while emphasizing that much depends on how well residents heed warnings to hunker down.
No mandatory evacuations were ordered inside New Orleans, which sits behind levees and pumps reinforced after Hurricane Katrina, which blew ashore seven years ago.
One significant difference between Isaac and Katrina—the intensity of the storm. Katrina was a Category 3 hurricane when it made landfall, making it significantly stronger than Isaac.
If anything, Isaac may draw closer parallels to last year’s Hurricane Irene, which ended up primarily causing economic losses from inland flooding throughout the northeastern and New England states.
...By comparison, Katrina caused more than 25 feet of storm surge and more than $21 billion in surge losses, most of which were uninsured.
Not only is Isaac smaller, but coastal defenses are in many cases stronger than they were seven years ago, leaving damage experts much less concerned.
Still, the effects of the severe weather are already being felt and will continue to be felt as the storm continues. According to CNN, more than 100,000 Entergy Louisiana customers are without power because of the hurricane. And while street and bridge closures in New Orleans are expected due to flooding, Mayor Mitch Landrieu says there are no plans to impose a curfew.
Significant flooding has already been reported in other parts of the region.
Even with the worst likely yet to come, the storm already has caused significant surges and flooding in a number of locales, and not just those directly in Isaac’s path. Storm surges of 8.8 feet were reported in Shell Beach, Louisiana; 5.5 feet in Waveland, Mississippi; and 3.1 feet in Pensacola, Florida, according to the hurricane center.
These surges likely will get worse, with forecasters predicting water levels to rise between 6 to 12 feet on the coast in Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana alone.
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.