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Isaac Creating Life-Threatening Hazards For Gulf Coast

UPDATED 1 PM CDT, August 30, 2012

UPDATED By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West

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Slowly weakening Tropical Storm Isaac is still inundating the Gulf Coast from southern Louisiana all the way to the Mississippi and Alabama border with tropical storm force wind gusts and flooding rainfall. Though It did not have Katrina`s intensity, Isaac`s massive storm surge, life-threatening flooding and brief, potent twisters will be Isaac`s lasting legacy along the Gulf Coast. Here is the latest rundown:

Rain:

Isaac`s crawl northward across Louisiana is driving squally rain bands from eastern Louisiana deep into Mississippi and southern Alabama. Rainfall accumulations are mounting quickly, in some cases, 1 to 2 inches per hour. In fact, a pesky but very strong tropical rain band has been soaking Pascagoula, Miss., with more than 15 inches of rain today. These rains will only add to the widespread 2 to 11 inches that has fallen in the past 24 to 48 hours throughout the Gulf Coast. Total accumulations will exceed two feet before Isaac and its remnants final exit into the central Mississippi Valley over the couple of days.

Unfortunately, this will only hamper multiple rescue operations in southern Louisiana, including a levee breach in Madisonville, La., as well as 5 feet of water submerging homes and stranding 50 people in Indian Village, La. Even worse, Isaac`s slow drift northward will squeeze out 7 to 14 inches of rain as far north as central and southern Arkansas, with localized amounts up to a foot possible.

The outcome will be more life-threatening flash flooding, especially in low-lying locations and in poor drainage areas, as well as where debris or fallen trees may be blocking storm drains.

Wind:

A gradually weakening Tropical Storm Isaac is now moving up the Mississippi River into central Louisiana. Tropical storm force wind gusts of 40 to 55 mph continue to blanket southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southern Alabama, with gusts between 40 and 50 mph now extending into south-central Mississippi.

Isaac`s tropical storm force wind gusts will continue to ease into northern and central Louisiana and in central Mississippi today. Some gusts will be between 40 and 50 mph, before subsiding to 30 to 40 mph tonight as Isaac fades toward depression status. Isaac`s tropical storm force wind gusts extend out 175 miles from the center.

Even after entering Arkansas as a tropical depression on Friday, gusts of 30 to 35 mph will be possible in the heavier thunderstorms leftover from Isaac.

As a result of the wind, in combination with saturated soils, fallen trees and widespread power outages will continue through the day.

Tornadoes:

The National Weather Service office in Baton Rouge and New Orleans confirmed a damaging tornado in Gulfport, Miss., Wednesday afternoon. The twister damaged structures in the Orange Grove area in Gulfport, Miss., with a possible tornado also ripping off a grocery store roof in McHenry, Miss.

As is typical with land-falling tropical cyclones, along and to the right of its center of circulation lays the greatest danger zone for quick-hitting, potent tornadoes. This area includes southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southern Alabama, expanding northward into southeastern Arkansas, much of Mississippi and extreme western Alabama later today.

A Tornado Watch is in place from southeastern Louisiana, southern and central Mississippi, southwestern Alabama and western Florida until 4 p.m. CDT, including greater Biloxi and Hattiesburg, Miss., Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla. These locations will be at risk for brief, potent tornado spin-ups as Isaac lumbers deeper into Louisiana this morning.

Storm Surge:

Storm surge, or the push of water created by the plowing effect of a tropical storm or hurricane`s winds that can raise water levels feet above normal sea levels, can cause massive destruction along the coast to the right of a storm`s landfall.

Isaac will continue to bring a substantial storm surge onto the central Gulf Coast, especially to the right of the storm`s center. A storm surge of 5 to 10 feet is occurring along south-facing beaches from eastern Louisiana to southern Mississippi.

Farther from Isaac`s center, storm surge will be 2 to 4 feet for the south-facing beaches in southern Alabama and 1 to 2 feet for the Florida Panhandle.

WeatherBug Meteorologists will be watching Isaac this week, so be sure to check here and Twitter for the latest. Follow WeatherBug`s Jacob Wycoff from the Gulf Coast on our Facebook page.

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