Tropical Storm Isaac is still sweeping across the Atlantic, and by Tuesday or Wednesday the storm will likely move into the U.S. as a Category One or Two hurricane. On Saturday, events for Monday’s start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida were cancelled as a result of the impending storm.
Tropical Storm Isaac Stalls Republican Convention
It now appears that the Tampa area will likely receive additional wind and rain, but be spared the full force of the tropical storm. Many in Florida have decided to stay in the area. In Key West, most residents are staying home, while Islamorada residents have secured their boats in the tall mangroves.
New Orleans on Alert Due to Isaac’s New Path
Unfortunately, Isaac has veered away from Tampa toward the most famous hurricane site in the U.S., the city of New Orleans. By the time the storm makes landfall in the northern and western areas of the Gulf Coast, it may be a Category Two hurricane with 100 mile per hour winds.
Isaac will arrive close to the seventh anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, which was a Category Three hurricane when it made landfall, though it was a Category Five as it steamed toward New Orleans. Landfall tempers the strength of a hurricane, since these storms gain strength from warm ocean waters. Category Three hurricanes cause devastating damage to property and extensive flooding, as we saw in 2005. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has stated that fifteen parishes outside New Orleans’ new flood defense system will likely be under evacuation orders by Monday, in order to avoid a taste of the catastrophe that occurred during Katrina’s visit to the city.
Hurricane Categories Explained
Category One and Two hurricanes are considered to be much more moderate than category three and up, since the hurricane scale is a logarithmic scale. This means that each time a hurricane moves into a new category, it has increased a lot in intensity and the potential for damage. A Category One hurricane brings very dangerous winds and the potential for damage to structures such as unanchored mobile homes. A Category Two hurricane brings power outages and water shortages, with more significant damage to trees, boats, and some damage to homes.
Haiti Suffers Due to Flooding and High Winds
Meanwhile as the U.S. battens down the hatches in preparation for Isaac’s landfall, Haitians are looking through tents to determine whether the death toll in the country will rise. Eight Haitians have died due to Isaac-related flooding, including three children. Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake that devastated the nation two years ago, and many Haitians still live in camps. At the Canaan camp, half of the tents were blown away, while at the Mega IV camp, 8000 Haitians were impacted by falling trees and floods. Isaac brought a foot or more of rain to many areas of Haiti. No deaths are reported in Cuba, an area which was also expected to have an impact from Tropical Storm Isaac.
There’s one good spot in the hurricane forecast for the week: Tropical Depression 10 was following on the heels of Isaac, and could have added to the devastation. A tropical depression is the lowest level storm in the tropical storm and hurricane category, but has the potential to develop into a more significant storm. On August 23rd, the storm became a system named Tropical Storm Joyce, but that system is now disintegrating and will not add a second large storm to the current mix in the Atlantic.
CBC News. Tropical Storm Isaac Truncates Republican Convention. (2012). Accessed August 27, 2012.
Reuters. Tropical Storm Isaac drenches Haiti, swipes Cuba. (2012). Accessed August 27, 2012.
Weekly Citizen. Governor Jindal urges Louisianians to get prepared for Tropical Storm Isaac, encourages voluntary evacuations in hurricane watch areas. (2012). Accessed August 27, 2012.