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Isaac Threatens Large Swath of Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm Isaac hasn’t hit hurricane strength yet, but it’s apparently bearing down on New Orleans almost seven years to the day that Hurricane Katrina hit the region.

Isaac has winds of 70 mph. Its center was about 230 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and it was moving northwest at 10 mph.

Forecasters predict it will come ashore early tomorrow.

Hurricane warnings extend across 280 miles from Morgan City, La., to the Florida-Alabama state line. It could become the first hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast since 2008.

With its massive size and slow speed, Isaac could become a punishing rain machine.

OBAMA DECLARES EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA

President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Louisiana as that state prepares for Tropical Storm Isaac.

The White House said Obama informed Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal of the emergency declaration in a phone call Monday. The declaration makes federal funding available for emergency activities related to the storm. Obama also spoke with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Obama has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts with state and local officials along the Gulf Coast.

Forecasters predict Isaac will intensify into a Category 1 hurricane later Monday or Tuesday, with a projected path directly toward New Orleans on Wednesday. Isaac could become the first hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast since 2008.

ISAAC SLOWS U.S. OIL PRODUCTION

The U.S. government says 78 percent of the oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been halted in preparation for Tropical Storm Isaac.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement reports about 1 million barrels per day of oil production has been stopped as companies have evacuated 346 offshore oil and gas production platforms. That’s 17 percent of daily U.S. oil production and 6 percent of consumption.

The agency says 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas production is also affected. That’s about 3 percent of daily U.S. production and consumption.

Production is expected to quickly resume after the storm passes.

The price of U.S. benchmark crude oil fell 68 cents to $95.47 per barrel. Natural gas fell 5 cents to $2.65 per 1,000 cubic feet.

 

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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