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Tropical Storm Isaac heads for northern Gulf Coast after lashing Carribean

Monday, August 27, 2012 | 7:44 a.m. CDT; updated 9:48 a.m. CDT, Monday, August 27, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac has lashed the Florida Keys and South Florida with wind and rain, but may become an even stronger hurricane as it makes its way toward the northern Gulf Coast.

Isaac is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast by Tuesday or Wednesday — the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. That storm caused disastrous flooding all along the coast. A hurricane hasn't hit the Gulf Coast since Ike in 2008.

Republican National Convention

Party officials are trying to cram four days of convention events and festivities into three as Isaac approaches. The storm is not expected to directly hit Tampa, but those in attendance — and especially those protesting outside — can expect to get wet.

The coming storm has also altered some Republican governors' plans to attend. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he won't leave the state unless the threat from the storm subsides, while Florida Gov. Rick Scott canceled a speaking engagement and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley canceled his trip to Tampa.

Damage

Most of the damage done by Isaac so far has been in the Caribbean. At least eight people were killed by flooding in Haiti, including some in tent cities filled with earthquake victims, and two others in the Dominican Republic. Isaac scraped Cuba, downing power lines and trees. As of Sunday night, the storm had hit the Florida Keys with wind and rain, doing little damage aside from scattered power outages.

Where will it hit?

Forecasters say it has been difficult to forecast the storm's path. The National Hurricane Center's forecast map shows that it could hit somewhere along a stretch of Gulf Coast running from southern Louisiana to the western edge of the Florida Panhandle. Those areas are under hurricane warnings.

Hurricane center forecasters are uncertain of the storm's path because two of their best computer models have tracked the storm on opposite sides of a broad cone for much of Sunday. One model has Isaac going well west and the other well east.

Evacuations

Officials in Lousiana's St. Charles Parish near New Orleans have told its 53,000 residents to leave ahead of the storm. Some coastal residents in Alabama have also been told to evacuate.


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