Tropical Storm Isaac Expected to Bypass Southwest Louisiana
UPDATE 7 p.m., 8/27 -- 26.7 N, 86.5 W, 70 mph, 981 mb: Isaac still remains too ragged to become strong enough to be a hurricane, but it is expected to get stronger overnight. Officials are becoming more concerned about the storm surge that will likely push ashore near the Louisiana/Mississippi border, and are also concerned that Isaac will come ashore near New Orleans and simply sit there dumping rain for hours. Last-minute evacuations are underway in the Crescent City.
Dry air is keeping Isaac from developing further, and the storm remains just below hurricane strength, according to Roger Erickson. However, Isaac is expected to reach hurricane strength between 10 p.m. and midnight tonight. It is not expected that the story will progress to Category 2. Lake Charles has a very low chance of receiving sustained tropical storm-force winds after landfall. It is thought that for the storm to hit Lake Charles, it would have needed to have turned further west already.
Calcasieu Parish Emergency Preparedness officials said they planned to shut down emergency operations in the parish "if things remain on this track" overnight. No further public briefings are planned. No plans to evacuate SWLA are being made, according to Police Jury President Les Farnum. However, officials asked the public to continue monitoring the storm just in case the worst should come to pass.
What to expect in Lake Charles:
- No evacuations in effect for Southwest Louisiana or Acadiana parishes at this time.
- Interstates 10 and 210 are completely open and all construction has been suspended until the storm passes.
- MANDATORY: Grand Isle, Plaquemines Parish, St. Charles Parish
- SUGGESTED: Governor Jindal suggests residents evacuate in low-lying areas including Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne, Assumption, St. James, St. John, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa, St. Tammany and Washington.
- No reported closures in Southwest Louisiana at this time.
- There are, however, a significant number of university closures statewide.
UPDATE 4 p.m., 8/27 -- 26.4N, 86.2 W, 65 mph, 982 mb: There are not expected to be any discussions of SWLA school closures until after 10 a.m. Tuesday. In the meantime, forecasters are much more confident that the storm will not affect SWLA except in the form of gusty winds.
UPDATE 3 p.m., 8/27 -- 26.1 N, 85.9W, 280 miles SE of the mouth of the Mississippi: Gov. Bobby Jindal, in a press conference from New Orleans said "today is the day" to evacuate if you're living in Southeast Louisiana and are planning to leave. Tropical storm-force winds are expected to start hitting the extreme southeastern portions of the state as early as tonight. Jindal confirmed that President Barack Obama has approved a federal emergency declaration for Louisiana.
UPDATE, 1 p.m., 8/27 -- 26.1 N, 85.9W, 280 miles SE of the mouth of the Mississippi: The 1 p.m. update from the National Weather Service has not upgraded Isaac from tropical storm status. The storm ismoving northwest at 14 mph, putting landfall in the early morning hours Wednesday. The barometric pressure dropped slightly, from 988 mb to 984 mb -- meaning the storm has strengthened very slightly.
ORIGINAL POST, 11:03 a.m. 8/27: Dry air out of the south is keeping Isaac from gaining full steam and help to limit the size of the storm, according to a public briefing over the storm this morning. Isaac may be no more than a Category 1 storm by landfall late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. Calcasieu Parish Emergency Preparedness Director Dick Gremillion said Southwest Louisiana should brace for more rain and possibly some gusty winds on Tuesday and Wednesday.
National Weather Service officials said they feel much more confident about a Southeast Louisiana landfall, but with tropical storm winds extending at least 75 miles out from the center of the storm, it's not unlikely to see storm conditions here.
Gremillion said that even sustained winds of 30-35 mpg could damage utility lines, and he asked Calcasieu Parish residents to prepare for a day or two without power. Entergy, meanwhile, reported that they have called in 4,300 additional contract workers for the state of Louisiana.
As of 10 a.m., no emergency declarations have been made in Southwest Louisiana, nor are there plans for any, but Gremillion said that with Isaac being Louisiana's first storm since 2008, officials are still working out kinks in their planning. No emergency shelters are set for Calcasieu Parish unless outside parishes or the state make an official request.