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Hurricane Isaac headed for Gulf

Published: Monday, August 27, 2012

Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 00:08

Tropical Storm Isaac sprawled over the Florida Keys Sunday evening, and it may strengthen over Gulf waters into a hurricane by the time it makes landfall between New Orleans and the Florida Panhandle.

The storm was on course to strike land on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the powerful storm that crippled New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Forecasters expected Isaac to pass the Keys late Sunday before turning northwest and striking land as a Category 2 hurricane Wednesday.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for a large swath of the northern Gulf Coast from east of Morgan City, La. — which includes the New Orleans area — to Destin, Fla. A Category 2 hurricane can sustain winds between 96 and 110 mph.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called a state of emergency and suggested that people begin evacuating low-lying parts of the state.

Isaac was expected to draw significant strength from the warm, open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but there remained much uncertainty about its path. Wind gusts of 60 mph were reported as far north as Pompano Beach, north of Fort Lauderdale.

The Gulf Coast hasn’t been hit by a hurricane since 2008, when Dolly, Ike and Gustav all struck the region. Florida, meanwhile, has been hurricane-free since it was struck four times each in 2004 and 2005.

Before reaching Florida, Isaac was blamed for seven deaths in Haiti and two more in the Dominican Republic, and downed trees and power lines in Cuba. It bore down on the Keys two days after the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than $25 billion in damage just north of the island chain.

The storm also caused a delay to the 2012 Republican National Convention. Convention officials said Republicans will formally bestow their presidential nomination Tuesday night, one day later than planned, on Mitt Romney.

In Tampa, convention officials said they would convene briefly on Monday, then recess until Tuesday afternoon, when the storm is expected to have passed.

Romney will deliver his acceptance speech before a nationally television audience Thursday night as originally planned.

At Miami International Airport, more than 550 flights Sunday were canceled. Inside the American Airlines terminal, people craned for a look out of one of the doors as a particularly strong band of Isaac began lashing the airport with strong rain and high wind.

Tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 205 miles from the center, meaning storm conditions are possible even in places not in Isaac’s direct path.

In the event of a hurricane or tropical storm hitting the Texas Coast, College Station is one of four communities in southeast Texas to be certified Storm Ready. Storm Ready is a nationwide community preparedness program that uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of severe weather, according to the National Weather Service website.

The Bryan-College Station area was full of evacuees for Hurricane Ike in 2008, with more than 6,800 people filling 32 shelters.

Some of those shelters included schools, where locals of the Bryan-College Station area were encouraged to take refuge if their houses were substandard. Among those schools were College Station Middle School, Stephen F. Austin Middle School, Bonham Elementary and Anson Jones. As for Texas A&M students and faculty, G. Rollie White Coliseum was opened as an emergency shelter.


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