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Posted at 11:32 AM ET, 08/29/2012

Hurricane Isaac hammering New Orleans, flooding, power outages mounting (LIVE BLOG)


4:30 p.m.: Isaac’s slow jog to the northwest: 18-24 more hours of wind/rain


(NOAA/RadarScope)
Isaac has moved to position almost due west of New Orleans as it continues its slow jog to the northwest. Southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi still have another 18 hours or so of rain, strong wind gusts and coastal flooding concerns. The worst conditions will occur intermittently when heavy bands wrapping around the storm’s center spiral inland from the Gulf of Mexico. A few tornadoes are also possible within these bands (tornado watch in effect).

New Orleans Mayor Landrieu is warning residents not to get complacent given weather still to come.

The number of power outages in Louisiana has grown to over 700,000 according to CNN. Entergy officials say it may be days before service is restored in some areas.

This entry concludes this live blog. Here are some websites for the latest on Isaac:

New Orleans radar

Southeast Louisiana current conditions

Storm surge levels

National Hurricane Center

Entergy power outages

City of New Orleans NOLA Ready website


4:15p.m.: Isaac Diary: Cell power, ending. Rain, for next 24 hours.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Keith O’Brien, a former Times-Picayune and Boston Globe reporter, is riding out the storm from his soggy home in New Orleans.)

A local weather forecaster says New Orleans will see rain through tomorrow afternoon -- long after Isaac moves north. “I hope you have your food,” the forecaster says. “I hope you have your water.”

That’s bad news for everyone here -- but especially those already experiencing flooding and power outages. It’s going to be a long week here, with days of recovery to follow. There’s no other way around it.




84 hour total rainfall simulation through Saturday night from the European weather model (StormVistaWxModels.com)
3:30 p.m.: Where Isaac’s rain is headed

Over the next three to four days, Isaac is likely to take its rain into the parched southern and central Plains. The particular computer model shown to the right simulates a broad swath of 2-6” or more of rain from north central Louisiana through central Arkansas and then into central Missouri. Many areas of this region are experiencing extreme to exceptional drought. However, heavy rain on dry soils can lead to runoff and flooding. Too much of a good thing so to speak. We’ll be monitoring this in the coming days.


3:17 p.m.: ‘More of an annoyance than a problem’

An update from former Times-Picayune reporter Danny Monteverde. He and his family are riding out the storm in the New Orleans neighborhood of Lakeview.

“My family and I decided to stay this time. We just didn’t have the feeling we had duringKatrina, that voice that told us, “Hey, guys, you haven’t evacuated before, but this is theone. It’s time to go.”

I decided to ride out Isaac at my Mom’s place, a raise basement house in the Lakeview neighborhood. I figured it was safer than my ground-level apartment in nearby Mid-City,which would get soaked if the waters rose.

The wind has howled and groaned for hours now, and the rain, shifting between asprinkle and a monsoon, has been nonstop. Local authorities warned that it would getboring for those who stayed and urged everyone to stay off the streets until the dangerpassed. “Stay inside and play Parcheesi,” the sheriff of a neighboring parish suggested.

So far the storm has proved to be more of an annoyance than a problem.”

And from the family dog...

“When I leashed up my dog, Jimmy, to take him out for a bathroom break after nearly 12hours of being inside, he took one glance out the door and turned to shoot me a certainlook before trotting away: “Like you, I’ll just wait this out.””


3:07 p.m.: Isaac downgraded to tropical storm

Isaac has been downgraded to a tropical storm as its maximum winds have decreased to 70 mph but the National Hurricane Center cautions “life-threatening hazards from storm surge and inland flooding are still occurring”. And while the winds have decreased, on average, some of the storm’s strong bands continue generating powerful gusts. Gulfport, MI recently recorded a gust to 70 mph.


3:04 p.m.: Jindal explains intentional levee breach


2:50 p.m.: Storm surge flooding

Storm surge flooding continues to be an issue from coastal Mississippi to southeast Louisiana. The National Weather Service reports houses flooded with up to 3 feet of water in LaPlace, LA and impassable roads in Gulfport, MS.

TVN’s Reed Timmer sent out this photo of wild hogs trapped inside a parking garage in Waveland, Mississippi.


2:48 p.m.: More on the intentional levee breach

The Associated Press:

“Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said officials may cut a hole in a levee on the east bank of Plaquemines Parish to relieve pressure on the structure. At a news conference in Baton Rouge, Jindal said there was no estimate on when that might occur.”

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien shared a photo on Twitter showing just the kind of pressure that Jindal is referring to.


2:35 p.m. : Rainfall totals climbing

Through 2 p.m., rainfall amounts in New Orleans generally range from about 6-11”. In the WeatherBug network, the two highest totals have occurred at the Magnolia School and New Orleans City Hall where 10.41 and 9.56” have fallen, respectively. New Orleans International and Lakefront airports have logged 6.3” and 8.57” respectively. Around downtown Mobile and at the airport, 5-6” of rain has fallen. In coastal Mississippi, 3-6” of rain has been reported.


2:10 p.m.: Curfew will be issued in New Orleans

The city of New Orleans says it will go forth with a dusk to dawn curfew. It reports 75 percent of Orleans Parish without power. About 150K outages in New Orleans, and 550,000 in the area total. Multiple streets in the city have flooding, trees and wires are down in areas, and some roads are closed; see full list at NOLA Ready.


2:07 p.m.: Isaac tweets


2:01 p.m.: Levee may be intentionally breached

Citing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, The Associated Press reports that a levee may be intentionally breached to relieve pressure in already flooded Plaquemines Parish.



Visualization of Isaac’s winds (hint.fm/wind)

1:50 p.m.: Awesome wind visualization

The website developed by Google computer scientists to show off our nation’s wind patterns beautifully displays the circulation around Isaac.

Related link: Wind map: twisting, turning eye candy


1:40 p.m.: Flash flood warning for New Orleans

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas through 3:30 p.m.


1:35 p.m.: Tornado warning in Mississippi

Wild afternoon in Gulfport, MS. Eric Fisher of the Weather Channel tweets: “Just recorded a 70mph gust here in Gulfport. Much wilder afternoon than yesterday.” In addition, a tornado warning has been issued in Harrison County, including Gulfport and Biloxi through 2 p.m.


1:34 p.m.: Photos of Isaac damage and preparation


1:25 p.m.: National Guard rescues up to 40

“National Guard on site in Plauquemines Parish to rescue up to 40 people on East Bank,” says Governor Bobby Jindal in press conference from Baton Rouge. Jindal also said officials are considering “intentional breach” of levee to relieve some of the water and pressure.

Photo from three story Braithewaite home (in Plaquemines Parish) via Twitter.


1:20 p.m. update: New outage numbers

More than 572,00 power outages reported by Entergy in Louisiana.


1:10 p.m. update: Slow weakening expected.


Satellite view of Isaac at 12:15 p.m. (NOAA)
Isaac continues crawling to the northwest at 6 mph. Positioned 45 miles west-southwest of New Orleans, it remains a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest advisory. With the center entirely over land, gradual weakening is forecast. While it continues to get pummeled by rain, wind gusts around New Orleans are very slowly trending downwards. Wind gusts are currently in the 55-60 mph range rather than 60-70 mph so common overnight. But due to the storm’s slow movement, heavy rain bands and strong wind gusts will continue to pound the region into tomorrow.



12:55 p.m.: Isaac Diary: Mac and cheese for lunch

Keith O’Brien is a former Times-Picayne and Boston Globe reporter who lives in New Orleans

The crisis today is in low-lying Plaquemines Parish where serious Katrina-like flooding apparently has people awaiting rescue on rooftops. The more common story from New Orleans today, the seventh anniversary of Katrina, is something more like ours: We’ve had no power for 13 hours. One tree in the yard is half down. One awning over the porch is totally shredded. Water is pouring in from the outside through a door. Towels, plastic bags and cookie sheets have been called upon to stem the tide of Isaac’s endless water beneath said door. Will it work? Maybe. Will the storm ever stop blowing? Feels unlikely at this point. The rain and wind continue outside unabated. “What’s for lunch?” our kids, ages 4 and 2, ask. “Mac and cheese,” we tell them. “Can we have a special treat?” the kids ask. Sure, we say. Why not? They still think it’s fun as Isaac literally knocks on our door, slamming the brass door-knocker with its fury. “Happy hurricane,” the kids say. Indeed, my children. Indeed.


12:40 p.m.: NOAA’s Environmental Visualization Laboratory show winds around 6:30 p.m. last night.


Wind speeds when hurricane Isaac was making landfall as analyzed by NOAA. (NOAA)


12:30 p.m.: NOLA government using social media as outreach

When Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on New Orleans in 2005, officials at all levels were criticized for their lack of communication. But seven years later, the rise of Twitter has changed how local, state, and city officials communicate with citizens in a storm’s path.

The Twitter account @NOLAready is New Orleans city government’s attempt to keep New Orleanians updated on the need-to-know information that can save their lives and make life easier.

Tweets about closed cross streets and power outages make the account a must-follow for people in New Orleans.

In addition to sending out updates, the accounts administrators are also responding to tips and questions.

The NOLA Ready website also provides an excellent compilation of street flooding, downed tree, road closure, and power outage reports.


12:20 p.m.: NASA image of Isaac overnight amongst city lights:
(NASA)


12:15 p.m.: ‘Heartbreaking’ flooding in Plaquemines

Reporter Jonathan Betz tweets: “ Just got off boat in #Plaquemines. Heartbreaking. Dozens of homes flooded. Rescues” and attaches this dramatic photo.

Here’s another photo of water up to roof tops in Braithwaite from this same reporter:


12:05 p.m.: Isaac made two landfalls in Louisiana
Wind speeds in Port Fourchon, LA as Isaac’s eye approaches, moves overhead, and passes. (WeatherBug/EarthNetworks)

Isaac actually made two landfalls in Louisiana. The first at the mouth of the Mississippi at 6:45 p.m. CT and the second just west of Port Fourchon around 2:15 a.m. CT. WeatherBug/Earth Network wind data nicely show the ramp up in wind gust speeds to over 75 mph as the eye approaches and then a sudden drop to below 25 mph as the calm eye moves overhead. Finally, after the eye passed, winds spiked back up over 75 mph.


11:50 a.m.: How much rain will fall?


Rainfall totals so far estimated by doppler radar (left). Rainfall prediction from NOAA, bright yellow shade indicates 12” (right). (Radarscope and NOAA)

A point of emphasis must continue to be the storm’s duration and the amount of rain it will produce. Doppler radar indicates 6-8” has fallen in New Orleans. This could be an underestimate and some ground reports indicate over 9”. Wunderground updates on rainfall totals through 11:00 a.m. (10 a.m. CT): 9.26” of rain has fallen in New Orleans so far, 5.21” in Mobile, and 3.42” in Gulfport.

Much more rain is expected today into tomorrow. NOAA predicts rainfall totals around a foot in New Orleans.


11:35 a.m.: Time lapse of Hurricane Isaac

Twelve hours of Hurricane Isaac in New Orleans condensed into 1 minute and 50 seconds.


11:30 a.m. Isaac from space:

Raw video of Hurricane Isaac taken yesterday from International Space Station:


11:15 a.m.: Biloxi and Gulfport roads closed

Photo of the storm surge in Gulfport, Mississippi by WeatherBug’s Jacob Wycoff. The Weather Channel’s Eric Fisher Tweets “Over 100 roads now closed in Harrison County, MS. [which includes Biloxi and Gulfport]. Water is at highest level so far during #Isaac.”


Radar view of Isaac at 11 a.m. (Radarscope)


11:10 a.m.: Levees ‘working’

The Associated Press reports the New Orleans levee protection systems are “working as expected” according to the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers.


11:05 a.m.: Power outages across Louisiana

The number of customers affected by power outages in Louisiana is now almost 545,000.


11:00 a.m.: Isaac eye directly over Houma, Louisiana

Isaac’s eye is about 45 miles southwest of New Orleans according to the latest National Hurricane Center advisory. The storm is moving northwest at a snail’s pace of just 6 mph. The core of Isaac’s intense northeast quadrant has sat over New Orleans for several hours, bringing sheets of rain and frequent powerful wind gusts over 60 mph. These conditions are likely to persist well through the day.


10:50 a.m. 50-60 people rescued from Plaquemines Parish

Via The Weather Channel’s Sean Breslin: “NBC reporting 50-60 people rescued from Plaquemines Parish neighborhood ... evacuations were ordered 3 days ago.” Also, via @weatherchannel Twitter feed “National Guard deployed to Plaquemines Parish, LA for rescue operations. Up to 12 feet of water in that community” (see also 9:40 a.m. update)


10:45 a.m.: Windows blown out in New Orleans’ hotels

NBC4’s Doug Kammerer reporting from New Orleans: “Windows blown out across street from my hotel. Room next me has water from windows. Tough going in #NewOrleans”


10:40 a.m.: Some flooding in New Orleans

The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore says “some flooding” in New Orleans, but not widespread - most thoroughfares “clear”.


10:35 a.m.: Video of 6-12 foot storm surge in Waveland, MS


10:30 a.m.: 20th New Orleans hurricane since 1851

The Weather Channel’s Mike Bettes tweets: “Historically since 1851, #Isaac is the 20th hurricane to pass within 50 nautical miles of New Orleans.”

If you’re just joining us:

On the 7th anniversary of hurricane Katrina, hurricane Isaac is relentlessly pounding southeast Louisiana. The storm has slowed to a crawl while maintaining its strength (maximum sustained winds of 80 mph), battering the greater New Orleans area with wind gusts to 60-90 mph and torrential rain rates hour after hour. Flooding is being reported in many areas and the number of customers without power is in the hundreds of thousands.

South of New Orleans in Plaquemines Parish, the storm surge has topped a 8 or 9 foot levee between the Braithwaite and White Ditch districts.

“On the east bank right now, we have reports of people on their roofs and attics and 12 to 14 foot of water (in their homes),” Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser told CNN according to Reuters.

Keep reading for earlier updates....


10:20 a.m. Overtopped levee

Photo from Plaquemines Parish where levee was overtopped causing widespread flooding around Braithwaite (see also 9:40 a.m. update)


10:15 a.m.: Biloxi under water

Another dramatic photo from Biloxi: downtown under water.


10:10 a.m.: Waters knocking on Hard Rock Casino’s doors

Storm surge has pushed waters to the doors of the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi: Photo. Here’s an image of some wind damage in Gulfport from WeatherBug’s Jacob Wycoff: Torn sign.


10:05 a.m.: Isaac weakening

Isaac is finally starting to weaken according to the latest National Hurricane Center advisory as it moves inland. It is still a hurricane, but maximum sustained winds are down to 75 mph and the pressure has risen to 972 mb. The center is positioned 40 miles southwest of New Orleans.


10:00 a.m.: Isaac slow moving

The slow movement of Isaac is going to take its toll on New Orleans and the surrounding region. The present motion is just 6 mph to the northwest and the current wind/rain band is hardly moving. Rainfall totals already range from 4-9” and bands of heavy rain may continue for another 24 hours in the city.


9:55 a.m.: Storm surge reached 5 feet

Storm surge has reached 5 feet at New Canal Station on Lake Pontchartrain and 6 feet on the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge (source: @wunderground on Twitter).


9:40 a.m.: Braithwaite levee overtopped

A news report from WDSU.com in New Orleans reports the situation in Braithwaite - in Eastbank Plaquemines Parish - is “grim” where an 18 mile stretch of levees has been overtopped. The area is well south of New Orleans and mandatory evacuations were issued there. Nevertheless, some residents remained and significant flooding is occurring. WWLTV reports dozens of people being rescued in this low lying area.


9:25 a.m.: Levees in New Orleans proper holding steady

Live coverage from WWLTV indicates levees in New Orleans proper are holding well and pumps working effectively. Areas that are being flooded are outside levee-protected areas, mainly south of the city.


9:20 a.m.: More than four inches of rain in Lousiana

Here are some rainfall totals from the WeatherBug network: New Orleans City Hall 4.89”, Nicholls State University 4.26”, New Orleans Lakefront Airport 4.01”


9:15 a.m.: Hundreds of thousands without power

: 490,000+ customers are without power in Louisiana. Source: Entergy


9:10 a.m.: Peak wind gusts overnight

Here are some peak wind gusts from overnight around New Orleans: East Jefferson General Hospital 90 mph, Lakefront Airport 76 mph, International Airport 75 mph, City Hall 67 mph


8:55 a.m.: Radar imagery of Issac


Radar view of Isaac at 8:53 a.m. (Radarscope)
Radar imagery clearly shows the eye of Isaac now inland just to the southwest of New Orleans. But the Crescent City is unfavorably situated in the strongest northeast quadrant of the storm and contines to get raked by wind and rain. Doppler radar indicates about 4-6” rain has fallen in the city and that may be an understimate.


8:50 a.m.: 107 mph wind gust in Gretna, Lousiana

The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore tweeted Gretna, Louisiana - which is just south of New Orleans (across the Mississippi) recorded a 107 mph wind gust at 3:54 a.m. and has received 6.73” of rain.


8:40 a.m.: Winds gusting at 60 mph

The Weather Channel reports winds at New Orleans Lakefront Airport have gusted to at least 60 mph for 13 straight hours.

Useful Links:

Washington Post Interactive tracking map

Interactive map for tracking tides/storm surges

Google interactive map

Webcams along northern Gulf Coast

Isaac radar loops

Southeast Louisiana current conditions

WWLTV.com live streaming video from New Orleans

Weather Channel live feed

By  |  11:32 AM ET, 08/29/2012

Categories:  Latest, Tropical Weather

 
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