Slow-Moving Isaac Could Pummel Gulf

By on August 28, 2012
Photo shows satellite image for Tropical Storm Isaac. Courtesy of NOAA.

Update: Storm reaches hurricane status

Isaac has been upgraded to hurricane status, as it crawls toward the U.S. Gulf Coast. Ports have braced themselves for the storm surge and flooding.

At 10 a.m. CDT, the National Weather Service upgraded Hurricane Isaac as reconnaissance data indicated maximum sustained winds reached 75 mph. Issac is located about 160 miles southeast of New Orleans, and is traveling northwest at 10 mph.

Isaac is expected to make landfall by Tuesday afternoon, with sustained winds of 85 mph, the weather service said. A hurricane warning is in effect for east of Morgan City, La., to the Florida-Alabama border, while a hurricane watch is in effect for Morgan City to Intracoastal City, La.

Storm swells could reach 12 feet and rainfall could reach 18 inches in some coastal areas. The NHC warns of possible damage from significant storm surge and flooding. The threat of heavy rainfall and flooding is also expected to spread inland over the Lower Mississippi Valley region during the next few days.

Cargo terminals ceased operations at the ports of New Orleans, Mobile, Gulfport, Port Fourchon and the rest of the affected area as final preparations were made for Isaac’s approach. The Mississippi River was closed to deep-draft traffic. Cargo operations will remain closed Tuesday and Wednesday, port officials said in a statement.

“Our staff and terminal operators have taken all of the necessary precautions in anticipation of the worst, while we hope for the best,” Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange, said. “This isn’t our first rodeo.”

The final phase of the port’s storm plan was to lock down cranes, ensure key operations and security personnel are in place; remove any potential hazards from wharves and secure all floating equipment.

Immediately following the storm the U.S. Coast Guard will evaluate all waterways and determine when the Mississippi River will be reopened for safe transit.