Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Isaac heads towards New Orleans

Hurricane Isaac has lashed the Louisiana coast and is heading for a shuttered New Orleans, sending floodwaters surging and unleashing fierce winds.

Residents of New Orleans waited out another storm just hours shy of the seventh anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina.
Isaac's approach left deserted streets from New Orleans' famous French Quarter to Tampa 480 miles away, where Republicans at their party's national convention pressed on with only a passing mention of the storm's arrival.

Hurricane Isaac spins into the southern Louisiana coast sending floodwaters surging and unleashing fierce winds (© AP/NOAA)

A Category 1 hurricane with winds at 80 mph, Isaac came ashore near the mouth of the Mississippi River in south-eastern Louisiana, drenching a sparsely populated neck of land that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico. But the worst was still to come as the slow-moving storm chugged along on a track that would take it just west of New Orleans, roughly 70 miles to the north.

At midnight on Tuesday, the hurricane had slowed to a forward speed of 7mph. It was forecast to slow even further over the next day or two as it drifts over the south-eastern coast of Louisiana before heading inland, according to an advisory from the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami.
While much less powerful than Katrina in 2005, Isaac unleashed fierce winds and soaking rains that knocked out power to more than 200,000 homes and businesses.

The storm drew intense scrutiny because of its timing - just before the anniversary of the hurricane that devastated New Orleans - while the first major speeches of the Republican National Convention went on in Tampa, Florida, already delayed and tempered by the storm.
While many residents stayed put, evacuations were ordered in low-lying areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, where officials closed 12 shorefront casinos.
One of the main concerns along the shoreline was storm surge, which occurs when hurricane winds raise sea levels off the coast, causing flooding on land.
A storm surge of 10.3 feet was reported at Shell Beach, Louisiana, while a surge of 6.7 feet was reported in Waveland, Mississippi, the Hurricane Centre said.

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