On its current track, Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to slam into the Gulf Coast anywhere between Florida and Louisiana by midweek, the US National Hurricane Center said on Monday, and predicted the storm's strength would grow to hurricane force.
If the storm makes landfall on Tuesday, as expected, that would just one day off the seventh year after anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and other Gulf coast communities in 2005 with devastating impact.
Early Monday morning, Isaac was about 405 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River with top sustained winds of 65 mph and moving west-northwest at 14 mph.
"I sense a high level of anxiety," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "The timing, as fate would have it, on the anniversary of Katrina has everybody in a state of alertness, but that is a good thing."
Landrieu declared a state of emergency, says CBS affiliate WWL-TV in New Orleans, as did Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.
NHC meteorologist Jessica Schauer said Isaac could trigger widespread coastal flooding, however.
"Right now we're forecasting 6 to 12 feet of storm surge if it occurs at the time of high tide in the southeast Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coast," she said.
Schauer said the NHC's hurricane warning area included "quite a few oil rigs" but not perhaps the heart of the U.S. offshore oil patch, which produces about 23 percent of U.S. oil output and 7 percent of its natural gas.
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