Isaac, On The Verge Of Hurricane Strength, Forecast For Landfall Tonight

Seven years ago tomorrow, Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans.

Today, the area is facing its first big test in the form of tropical storm Isaac. While the storms are not comparable — Katrina was a monster category 3 storm — it still has triggered evacuations and an emergency declaration in Louisiana.

The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center still says that the central pressure of the storm has dropped and the winds around the center are picking up steam.

“Strengthening might be imminent,” the center said.

The latest forecast has the Isaac making landfall along the Mississippi or Southeast Louisiana coast as a hurricane with 85 mph winds.

We’ll update this post throughout the day. So hit your refresh button to see the latest.

Update at 7:46 a.m. ET. Storm Surge Threat:

As The New York Times reports, the danger of this storm may not be the winds but the storm surge, or the wall of water the storm is pushing to land as it rumbles across the Gulf of Mexico.

The Times adds:

“Officials encouraged those in low-lying areas to leave, warning of 12-foot storm surges along a broad swath of the coast and days of nonstop rainfall, in some places possibly adding up to 20 inches of water.

“‘A slow-moving, large system poses a lot of problems,’ Rick Knapp, the director of the National Hurricane Center, said in a conference call with reporters, describing the risks as ‘life-threatening, potentially.’”

Update at 7:45 a.m. ET. New Orleans Is Prepared:

The storm is of course causing great concern because it was seven years ago tomorrow that Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans.

As we reported, this is not the monster storm Katrina was and the levees and flood walls were rebuilt after Katrina.

The New Orleans Times Picayune reports today that local officials are expressing nothing but confidence in the $15 billion system built to withstand a category 3 hurricane.

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