Tens of thousands of Louisiana residents haveÂ been ordered to evacuate as Tropical Storm Isaac picks up strength in the GulfÂ of Mexico – and it may strike seven years to the day after Hurricane KatrinaÂ devastated the same area.
More than 50,000 residents of the St. Charles Parish in southeastÂ Louisiana have been told to leave ahead of Isaac, which is currently churning inÂ the Gulf.
Earlier in the day, Gov Bobby Jindal had alsoÂ suggested that anyone in low-lying parts of the state’s coastal parishesÂ evacuate.
A hurricane warning has been issued for partsÂ of the state east of Morgan City, which includes the New OrleansÂ area.
Isaac is expected to be a strong Category 2Â hurricane when it comes ashore late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Wednesday is theÂ seventh anniversary of Katrina.
There were fears that Isaac could strike NewÂ Orleans with the the same deadly force as the monster storm, which wiped outÂ homes and led to the death of nearly 2,000 people.
Meanwhile, Isaac shifted West into the GulfÂ of Mexico after lashing the Florida Keys with strong winds and heavyÂ rain.
Also on Sunday, Alabama joined Florida,Â Mississippi and Louisiana in declaring a state of emergency as IsaacÂ looms.
The National Hurricane Center said Isaac was due to be at or nearÂ category-two hurricane strength soon after its center crosses the Florida KeysÂ late on Sunday.
The latest forecast takes Isaac into theÂ Mississippi coast with maximum sustained winds from 96 to 110 mph over the nextÂ few days.
At least 1,836 people died and cost of theÂ damage was estimated at $110billion. ForbesÂ reported that Isaac has theÂ possibility to rival Katrina in its destructive power.
A storm becomes a hurricane when sustainedÂ winds reach a minimum of 74 miles per hour (119 kph).
The NHC said Isaac was expected to intensifyÂ to a Category 2 hurricane, with ‘extremely dangerous’ sustained winds of 105Â miles per hour (169 kph), as it swept up the warm waters of the Gulf ofÂ Mexico.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center issued aÂ hurricane warning for the northern Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the FloridaÂ Panhandle on Sunday.
At 2pm (EDT) on Sunday, Isaac was about 50Â miles (85 km) south-southeast of Key West and packing top sustained winds of 60Â miles (100 km) per hour.
Tropical force winds from the massive stormÂ stretched across 400 miles (644 km), with rain bands extending even further,Â said NHC meteorologist David Zelinsky.
It meant Isaac could causeÂ significantÂ damage even in places where it does not pass directlyÂ overhead.
‘It certainly is a large storm,’ he said,Â noting that wind gusts of 60 mph (100 kph) had been detected as far apart as KeyÂ West and Palm Beach.
The storm will likely pick upÂ strength fromÂ the warm, open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and strike as a dangerous Category 2Â hurricane somewhere between New Orleans and theÂ Florida Panhandle onÂ Wednesday.
Airlines cancelled hundreds ofÂ flights asÂ the storm lashed southeastern Florida today. Airports inÂ Miami and FortÂ Lauderdale were hit the hardest, cancelling 573 flights – the vast majority ofÂ the 654 U.S. flights grounded overall because ofÂ the storm as of SundayÂ morning.
There were scattered power outages from KeyÂ West to Fort LauderdaleÂ affecting more than 6,000 customers, and floodingÂ occurred in low-lyingÂ areas.
Isaac has brought havoc to the CaribbeanÂ already, killing seven people in Haiti and downing trees and power lines inÂ Cuba.
It had officials worried enough in Tampa thatÂ they shuffled around some plans for the Republican NationalÂ Convention.
Source: The Daily Mail