The broad, uncertain path of Tropical Storm Isaac and its expected increase in intensity have prompted a hurricane watch that now includes the New Orleans area, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“The official track has Tropical Storm Isaac impacting coastal Mississippi and the Southeast Louisiana coast late Monday night with tropical storm conditions,” writes the local office of the National Weather Service in a hurricane-watch statement at 11 a.m. “Conditions are expected to deteriorate Tuesday and Tuesday night. Hurricane conditions are possible on the coastal waters east of the Mississippi River and Mississippi coast.”
Forecasters and computer models now predict a Wednesday morning landfall of a Category 2 hurricane (with peak winds of 105 mph) somewhere between south Louisiana and the western Florida panhandle — with a wide range of very paths still possible.
“The track forecast beyond Day 2 has become problematic… There is a large spread among the more reliable track models,” writes the National Hurricane Center in its 10 a.m. forecast discussion. “It should be noted that there is greater than usual uncertainty in the track forecast. Throughout the period, it is important not to focus on the exact forecast track since significant hazards extend well away from the center.”
New Orleans is now within the hurricane watch area for Isaac, meaning that hurricane conditions are possible and the first tropical storm-force winds are now expected within 48 hours.
“For those under a watch, now is the time to begin preparing your home or business according to your hurricane disaster plan,” the local NWS office writes. “Listen for possible warnings and be ready to evacuate if necessary.”