Isaac aims for Mississippi
Aug 26, 2012 / 8:13 pm
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has declared a state of emergency as officials prepare for a hit from what's now Tropical Storm Isaac.
Weather forecasters told Bryant and other state officials meeting Sunday at the state Emergency Operations Center that tropical storm winds could begin along the Mississippi coast Monday night and could last into Wednesday. National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb told Bryant on a conference call that forecasters expect Isaac to strengthen into a hurricane and drive a storm tide of 6 to 12 feet into coastal estuaries. Coastal areas could also get 12 to 16 inches of rain and be subject to tropical storm-force winds for as long as 36 hours beginning late Monday.
Knabb said forecasters are still having a hard time predicting where Isaac's centre will make landfall. It could come ashore Wednesday morning, seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina killed more than 200 Mississippians and caused billions of dollars in damage. Bryant, at a news conference Sunday evening, said that Isaac seems to be on the same track and offers the same possibility for storm tides and damage to inland parts of the state.
"There are too many similarities not to be concerned," Bryant said.
Until Saturday, officials had mainly been watching, with a projected track that showed that Mississippi would probably be on the west side of the storm. But computer models jogged Isaac's expected path to the west, putting Mississippi's 80-mile coast at greater risk.
"It kind of caught everybody off guard a little bit," Terry Jackson, deputy director of the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency, said earlier Sunday
Because the storm is so wide, storm force winds extend 200 miles from the centre â€” Mississippi may be affected even if the centre hits in Louisiana, Alabama or the Florida Panhandle.
At 7 p.m. CDT Sunday, authorities on the coast were handing out sandbags in many locations. Leaders in coastal counties said they could order evacuations Monday morning, but Bryant was already warning people who live in low-lying areas to leave.
"The best thing to do in a storm like this is to get out," he said.
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