Isaac Prompts Hurricane Warnings From La. To Fla.[VIDEO]
Hurricane warnings have been issued for an area stretching from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle as Isaac churns toward the Gulf Coast.
The warnings stretched from east of Morgan City, La. — which includes the New Orleans area — to Destin, Fla.
Isaac lashed the Florida Keys as a tropical storm on Sunday, bringing rain and strong winds. But residents for the most part took it in stride. However, preparations have begun farther north as forecasters warn Isaac could be a strong Category 2 hurricane by the time it reaches the Gulf Coast.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Isaac is expected to hit somewhere between southeastern Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle either late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
Airlines have canceled hundreds of flights. The airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale were hit the hardest, cancelling 573 flights — the vast majority of the 654 U.S. flights grounded overall because of the storm as of Sunday morning, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware.
Rigs, platforms evacuate Gulf ahead of Isaac
The federal government says oil and gas operators are evacuating offshore platforms and rigs that could wind up in Tropical Storm Isaac's path through the Gulf of Mexico.
Isaac is expected to become a Category 2 hurricane before making landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
The bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement says 39 production platforms and eight drilling rigs have been evacuated as of Sunday. That's about 6.5 percent of the 596 manned platforms and 10.5 percent of the 76 rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico.
Evacuation procedures include closing safety valves under the ocean floor to avoid pollution in case a rig or platform is damaged.
The bureau says operators estimate that about 24 percent of the current daily oil production and 8 percent of natural gas production has been cut off.
Jindal may skip GOP convention because of Isaac
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says he's considering skipping his speaking engagement at Republican National Convention because of Tropical Storm Isaac.
Jindal said at a news conference Sunday afternoon that he wouldn't leave his state while it's threatened by the storm. Around the time he spoke, a hurricane warning was issued for parts of the state east of Morgan City, which includes the New Orleans area.
He also called a state of emergency in Louisiana and suggested that people leave low-lying parts of coastal parishes.
Obama tells FEMA to closely monitor Isaac
The White House says President Barack Obama has told the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate closely with officials in states and localities in the path of tropical storm Isaac.
Obama also has told the governor of Florida that federal officials are prepared to help ensure the safety of visitors to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Obama was briefed Sunday by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center.
The White House said FEMA has already sent teams to Florida and Louisiana ahead of the storm to support state and local preparations. The agency is also consulting with officials in Alabama, Mississippi and other states that could be affected.
GOP officials have curtailed some convention events because of the storm.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)