Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tampa Bay Weather

Isaac reaches hurricane status as New Orleans, northern Gulf Coast residents gird for landfall

After struggling for several days with dry air and shear, Tropical Storm Isaac finally has achieved hurricane status.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded Isaac to a Category 1 hurricane shortly after noon today, estimating maximum sustained winds at 75 mph and giving the location as 75 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Isaac continues to move northwest at about 10 mph.

In New Orleans, a handful of bars, restaurants and convenience stores remained open across the city while others were shuttered or boarded over.

A half-dozen television trucks lined the Mississippi River, where reporters interviewed joggers and pedestrians. About a dozen homeless men hung out under a pavilion as rain sputtered and a firm wind blew. At moments throughout the morning, fast-moving cloud passed and the sun shone through.

City officials remained concerned mainly about high winds and flooding from a storm that could bring 12 to 16 inches of rain. The city did not order evacuations but encouraged residents of low-lying areas such as Venetian Isles and Irish Bayou to move to higher ground.

The forward speed of Isaac was established about 10 mph, according to the National Weather Service, which put the brunt of the storm over New Orleans sometime Tuesday evening.

The mayor of Grand Isle, about 100 miles south of New Orleans by road, told WDSU-TV Ch. 6 that about 35 holdouts remained on the island as the first large feeder band blew in around 10:45 a.m.

"We're asking them to get out," he said. "As soon as I get done with this interview we're going take a ride to see if we can get more people off the island. … We're going to do the best we can."

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