Tropical Storm Isaac is intensifying and now expected to make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday on the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane, forecasters said on Monday.
The storm--with sustained winds of 65 mph--is moving northwest at 14 mph. According to the National Weather Service, New Orleans is in the projected path of the storm. Wednesday marks the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in late August 2005.
Hurricane warnings have been issued along the northern Gulf Coast from Morgan City, La., to Destin, Florida. According to the National Hurricane Center, a storm surge between six and 12 feet could threaten the northern Gulf Coast if the storm makes landfall during high tide.
[Slideshow: Tropical Storm Isaac]
Isaac was blamed for as many as seven deaths in Haiti on Saturday and forced the delay of the start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where GOP leaders are still mulling how to hold a convention as a hurricane concurrently thrashes the Gulf Coast.
"Even if the storm largely bypasses this region," the New York Times said, "it holds the risk of creating an uncomfortable split-screen image, especially if it continues barreling toward New Orleans."
Indeed, several news organizations, including CNN, have already sent staffers to the Big Easy to cover the storm. And the Boston Globe, citing senior Romney advisers, said that "there is a distinct possibility that the 2012 Republican National Convention will be cancelled."
"Consider for a moment the juxtaposition of President Obama marshaling his administration's forces and personally visiting New Orleans or Mobile, Ala., in the aftermath of the storm's landfall," the Boston Globe said, "all while the convention hall is filled with delegates dressed in funny hats listening to partisan speeches."
On Sunday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency and ordered voluntary evacuations of more than a dozen parishes. Governors in Alabama and Mississippi did, too.
"I know the anxiety level is high," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told CNN on Sunday. "We are much, much better prepared structurally than before."
A big issue is Isaac's speed. According to Weather.com, the storm is expected to slow as it approaches Louisiana, and could take up to 36 hours--perhaps longer--to move through New Orleans.