The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning for coastal counties/parishes from Morgan City, LA eastward to Destin, FL, including the major cities of New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola, and Destin.
The NHC expects Isaac to attain hurricane intensity tonight as it strengthens, organizes, and moves towards the northern Gulf Coast next week. The NHC's intensity forecast has it reaching category 2 status -- 105 MPH as a maximum forecast wind speed -- before it makes landfall very near the Louisiana/Mississippi border during the day on Wednesday.
Isaac is predicted to be a very large storm with a large swath of high winds and heavy rain. Do not focus on the central track of the storm, but rather the cone of uncertainty that surrounds it -- tropical storm and hurricane force winds will extend up to or over one or two hundred miles from the center of the storm.
There's also quite a bit of spread and disagreement between the models right now. Some bring the storm into central Louisiana, while some continue to bring Isaac into Mobile/Pensacola. Here's the NHC's reasoning for their track:
HOWEVER...THERE ARE SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCES AMONG THE MOST RELIABLE MODELS AS TO WHERE ISAAC MIGHT CROSS THE NORTHERN GULF COAST. THE U.K. MET. OFFICE AND ECMWF MODELS ARE ABOUT 300 N MI TO THE EAST OF THE GFS AT LANDFALL. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT NEARLY ALL OF THE GFS ENSMEBLE MEMBERS ARE EAST OF THE GFS CONTROL TRACK. BECAUSE OF THE WIDE MODEL SPREAD...THERE CONTINUES TO BE GREATER THAN USUAL TRACK FORECAST UNCERTAINTY.
Here's the 5PM EDT projected path from the National Hurricane Center:
Within the last few hours Isaac has taken on a rather nice presence in radar and satellite imagery, indicating that the structure of the storm is becoming better defined and will likely lead to strengthening tonight and tomorrow.
Here's Isaac as of 424PM CDT from the Key West, FL radar site, showing a well-defined center of circulation and some pretty nice banding forming around it:
The storm is starting to more healthy on satellite imagery, as well:
Please heed evacuation orders if you're asked (or flat out ordered) to leave. Remember that if you stay to ride out the storm when you're under an evacuation order, if you have any kind of an emergency, rescue workers won't risk their lives until the storm is over.
Here's the storm surge information for those in low-lying or otherwise vulnerable areas:
STORM SURGE...THE COMBINATION OF A STORM SURGE AND THE TIDE WILL CAUSE NORMALLY DRY AREAS NEAR THE COAST TO BE FLOODED BY RISING WATERS. THE WATER COULD REACH THE FOLLOWING DEPTHS ABOVE GROUND IF THE PEAK SURGE OCCURS AT THE TIME OF HIGH TIDE...Me on Facebook
* NORTHERN GULF COAST WITHIN THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA...6 TO 12 FT
* REMAINDER OF THE FLORIDA PANHANDLE AND APALACHEE BAY...4 TO 7 FT
* FLORIDA WEST COAST SOUTH OF APALACHEE BAY...2 TO 4 FT
* SOUTHEAST FLORIDA COAST AND THE FLORIDA KEYS...1 TO 3 FT
* CENTRAL AND WESTERN CUBA...1 TO 3 FT
* NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS...1 TO 3 FT
National Weather Service San Juan PR
National Weather Service Tampa FL
National Weather Service Key West FL
National Weather Service Miami/South FL
National Weather Service Melbourne FL
National Weather Service Tallahassee FL
National Weather Service Mobile AL
National Weather Service New Orleans LA
4:35 PM PT: Mandatory evacuations for zones I and II in Mobile and Baldwin Counties in AL. I'm in Zone III, so it doesn't cover me. But if you live along or near the coast in these zones, you're under a mandatory evacuation.