Isaac, now a hurricane, forecast for landfall tonight

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46148 full

The Latest:

-- Isaac is now a category 1 hurricane. The National Hurricane Center reported on its twitter feed that reconnaissance data gathered by hurricane hunters found maximum winds of 75 mph.

In its latest advisory, the National Hurricane Center said dry air pumping into the cyclone has kept it from intensifying further and they are expecting it to make landfall with 80 mph winds. At this point, the Southeast Louisiana coast seems to be where the storm will make landfall.

-- In a televised speech from the White House's Diplomatic Room, President Obama urged residents to heed warnings from local officials.

"We're dealing with a big storm and there could be significant flooding and other damage across a large area," he said. "Now is not the time to tempt fate. Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings. You need to take this seriously."

-- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said that 41 parishes have declared states of emergency and 7 parishes have issued mandatory evacuation orders.

Our original post and earlier updates continue:

Seven years ago tomorrow, Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans.

Today, the area is facing its first big test in the form of hurricane Isaac. While the storms are not comparable — Katrina was a monster category 3 storm, Isaac is forecast to make landfall as a weak hurricane — the cyclone has triggered evacuations and an emergency declaration in Louisiana.

The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center still says that the central pressure of the storm has dropped and the winds around the center are picking up steam.

The latest forecast has the Isaac making landfall along the Mississippi or Southeast Louisiana coast as a hurricane with 80 mph winds.

We'll update this post throughout the day. So hit your refresh button to see the latest.

Update at 12:44 p.m. ET. A Slow Moving Storm:

During a televised press conference, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said this is a slow moving storm and some areas of his state could face sustained tropical storm force winds for 24 to 36 hours.

Jindal said the problem with this storm, however, will likely be flooding: As it lumbers through the area it will dump incredible amounts of rain that "will result in localized flooding."

Already, Jindal said, 41 parishes have declared states of emergency and 7 parishes have issued mandatory evacuation orders.

But the state government is prepared. They have aircrafts and boats standing by to lead rescue efforts if needed, Jindal said.

Update at 12:29 p.m. ET. Now A Hurricane:

The National Hurricane Center tweets:

"Hurricane #Isaac update issued. Reconnaissance data indicate #Isaac finally achieves hurricane status."

Update at 11:00 a.m. ET. Still A Tropical Storm:

In its 11 a.m. advisory, the Hurricane Center has some good news: Top winds for Isaac remain at 70 mph.

The center has also lowered its intensity forecast, now saying it will make landfall with top winds of 80 mph, making Isaac a minimal category 1 hurricane.

The center reports:

"Isaac is a large tropical cyclone. A dangerous storm surge, heavy rainfall and strong winds extend well away from the center and are expected to affect a large portion of the northern gulf coast.

"For this reason, it is important not to focus on the exact center location. The threat of heavy rainfall and flooding is also expected to spread inland over the lower mississippi valley region during the next few days."

Update at 10:12 a.m. ET. Now Not The Time 'To Tempt Fate':

In a short statement from the White House, President Obama said that federal officials have been on the ground in places impacted and about to be affected by Tropical Storm Isaac for more than week.

Obama said the federal government is ready to respond and that he has signed an emergency declaration for Louisiana so it could quickly get the help it needs.

Obama added that people in the path of the storm should heed warnings from their local officials.

"Now is not the time to tempt fate," Obama said. "You need to take this seriously."

Update at 7:46 a.m. ET. Storm Surge Threat:

As The New York Times reports, the danger of this storm may not be the winds but the storm surge, or the wall of water the storm is pushing toward land as it rumbles across the Gulf of Mexico.

The Times adds:

"Officials encouraged those in low-lying areas to leave, warning of 12-foot storm surges along a broad swath of the coast and days of nonstop rainfall, in some places possibly adding up to 20 inches of water.

"'A slow-moving, large system poses a lot of problems,' Rick Knapp, the director of the National Hurricane Center, said in a conference call with reporters, describing the risks as 'life-threatening, potentially.'"

Update at 7:45 a.m. ET. New Orleans Is Prepared:

The storm is of course causing great concern because it was seven years ago tomorrow that Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans.

As we reported, this is not the monster storm Katrina was and the levees and flood walls were rebuilt after Katrina.

The New Orleans Times Picayune reports today that local officials are expressing nothing but confidence in the $15 billion system built to withstand a category 3 hurricane.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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