Though it initially was projected to hit Florida’s coastline, Tropical Storm Isaac took a left turn Sunday and appeared to be on the same track and timing as Hurricane Katrina, but with less power.
The National Hurricane Center predicted that Isaac will grow to a Category 1 hurricane over the warm Gulf of Mexico and possibly hit late Tuesday somewhere along a stretch that starts west of New Orleans and runs to the edge of the Florida Panhandle, nearly seven years after Katrina struck in 2005.
The center predicted that the storm could become a Category 2 hurricane — with sustained winds between 74 and 95 mph — by the time it hits the coast.
Hurricane warnings were in effect Monday morning from east of Morgan City, La., to Destin, Fla., a stretch that includes New Orleans.
Before reaching Florida, Isaac was blamed for eight deaths in Haiti and two in the Dominican Republic, and downed trees and power lines in Cuba, according to a CBS report.
It brushed the Keys two days after the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than $25 billion in damage and killed 26 people in South Florida.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency and 53,000 residents of St. Charles Parish near New Orleans were ordered to leave ahead of the storm, according to a USA Today report.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu also declared a state of emergency, said CBS affiliate WWL-TV in New Orleans, as did Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.
Oil companies began evacuating workers and cutting production at Gulf offshore rigs in Isaac's projected path.
Even though the storm was moving well west of Tampa, where Republican National Convention events were canceled today, tropical storm-force winds and heavy rains were possible in the area because Isaac is a large storm, forecasters said.
As of 8 a.m. (EDT) Monday, the storm was centered about 185 miles southwest of Fort Myers, Fla., and 360 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Isaac had top sustained winds of 65 mph and was moving west-northwest at 14 mph.