The National Hurricane Center is tracking the movement of Tropical Storm Isaac. (Source: NHC)
Tropical Storm Isaac's winds is expected to impact a large area. (Source: NHC)
Tropical Storm Isaac is predicted to turn into a hurricane as it moves into the Gulf. (Source: NHC)
Many New Orleans residents are voluntarily leaving the area. Officials have told them to prepare for a storm with a "large area of potential impact." (Source: WWL/CNN)
(RNN) – Tropical Storm Isaac continues stir in the Gulf of Mexico as it continues along a path similar to Hurricane Katrina. It's estimated to make landfall near New Orleans as a Category 2 storm on Wednesday on the seven-year anniversary of when Katrina hit.
In anticipation of the storm, key federal disaster aid programs have been issued under President Obama's emergency disaster declarations, according to FEMA for the State of Louisiana.
The National Hurricane Center predicted it will grow to a hurricane with winds between 74 and 95 mph and possibly make landfall sometime Wednesday along a stretch from the bayous of New Orleans to the edge of the Florida panhandle.
The National Hurricane Center warns that flooding could now be an issue with the storm surge, which may happen at high tide. It has not changed predictions for Isaac as of its 2 am ET advisory.
Along Louisiana and Mississippi, the water could reach 6 to 12 feet above ground; 3 to 6 feet in south central Louisiana; 6 to 9 feet along the Alabama coast; and 3 to 6 feet along the Florida panhandle.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is urging residents to take warnings seriously.
"Our concern is residents may decide to wait until later Tuesday night or Wednesday to start leaving or moving from the area," Bryant said. "That would put you in the dark, in 60 mile-per-hour winds, in the rain. Those are not the conditions you want to move your family forward."
The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida declared states of emergency as a hurricane warning went into effect for the predicted 300-mile stretch.
According to CNN:
• Louisiana: Governor Bobby Jindal has called for residents in coastal parishes prone to flooding to voluntarily evacuate.
• Mississippi: Governor Phil Bryant has dispatched 1,500 National Guard troops to the state's three coastal counties to assist local authorities.
• Alabama: Governor Robert Bentley has ordered a mandatory evacuation for parts of Baldwin and Mobile counties. Other residents in low-lying or flood-prone areas are urged to voluntarily evacuate.
• Florida: Some residents were impacted with minor damage and power outages, and more than 550 flights in Miami were canceled.
Federal officials are warning residents along the Gulf coast to prepare for Isaac, but not to focus on the center or track of the storm because though only predicted a Category 1, the storm is especially large.
"Don't focus necessarily on where it may come in. This is a very large area of potential impact," FEMA director Craig Fuagte said in a press conference.
Due to the storm, Jindal is skipping the Republican National Convention where he was to be a featured speaker on Wednesday evening.
"I will not be speaking or attending the Republican convention in Florida," he said during a press conference. "There is no time for politics here in Louisiana."
This is the second time a storm has prevented Jindal from attending the Republican National Convention. Hurricane Gustav prevented Jindal from attending the GOP gathering 2008 in St. Paul, MN.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has canceled his appearances during the convention week, and Alabama and Mississippi's governors have also canceled their trips to Tampa to monitor the storm.
Bentley is urging residents to take precautions now.
"We always have to remember that what we're trying to do is protect the lives of the people of this area. Everything else is secondary. But the lives and the safety of the people of this area are most important," he said.
Fugate said federal officials have learned the lessons of Hurricane Katrina and are working closely with state and local officials.
"The biggest thing we've learned is that we have to work together as a team at the state and federal level," Fugate said.
Fugate said he understands the focus on New Orleans, but warns there's more to look out for.
"This is not a New Orleans storm. This is a Gulf Coast storm. Some of the heaviest impacts may be in Alabama and Mississippi. Everybody's focusing on New Orleans and they don't understand this threat is not a point. It's a large area."
Isaac is forecast to become a hurricane either Monday or Tuesday. The National Hurricane Center said the storm was expected to eventually intensify to a Category 2 hurricane with extremely dangerous sustained winds of 105 miles per hour.
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
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