Hurricane Isaac Hovers Over Gulf Coast, 500,000 Without Power

Floods from Hurricane Isaac, moving across Louisiana at just 6 mph, have left a half a million powerless.


Since making landfall in southeastern Louisiana Tuesday night, Hurricane Isaac has stalled and continued its rain and storm surge deluge. Utility companies in the area have reported more than 500,000 power outages as a result of flooding and winds upwards of 75 mph, according to the Associated Press.

[Photos: Isaac Storms Gulf]

As of 1 p.m. EDT, Isaac was located near Houma, La., about 45 miles southwest of New Orleans, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is still a Category 1 hurricane, and is expected to hover over the area for the rest of the day.

"Gradual weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours as Isaac continues moving farther inland and Isaac is expected to weaken to a tropical storm later today," the Center said in its 1 p.m. advisory.

Thus far the storm has dumped approximately 10 inches of rain on southeastern Louisiana. with New Orleans recieving slightly less rain and slightly weaker winds. Perhaps Isaac's most destructive force has been its storm surges, which have reached 10 feet in New Orleans and 14 feet on the Mississippi River, just two feet below the levees there, according to Weatherunderground's Jeff Masters. A surge crested over one levee in a rural area bordering the Gulf of Mexico called Plaquemines Parish, causing extensive flooding and requiring rescue efforts, the National Weather Service reports.

In New Orleans, where the streets are flooded and an estimated 75 percent of residents are without power, the recently revamped levees and pump systems have held so far.

"(The Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System) is performing as designed," the US Army Corps of Engineer's New Orleans office said in a statement. "The non-federal levees overtopping Plaquemines Parish are outside of the federal system."

Elsewhere on the Gulf Coast, Isaac's worst impacts have been mostly limited to Mississippi, which is still experiencing tropical storm force winds and storm surges. According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Isaac has knocked out power in about 24,000 homes. Further east in Alabama, the damage is less severe, though there are reported storm surges of 3 to 6 feet.

The National Hurricane Center predicts Isaac will slowly continue inland, crossing Louisiana by the end of the day Thursday and entering southern Arkansas by Friday before taking a northerly and then northeasterly track over Ohio and the Midwest. Tropical storm force winds currently extend about 175 miles from the hurricane's eye, in southern Louisiana.

Seth Cline is a reporter with U.S. News and World Report. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter.