As Tropical Storm Isaac moved west over the Gulf of Mexico on Monday afternoon, the storm warning for Tampa expired, and it looked like Republicans had unnecessarily canceled the first day of their convention. But New Orleans is bracing for a direct hit.
As The Associated Press' Donna Cassata and Calvin Woodward report, only a "smattering of delegates" showed up to see Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus gavel the convention into session, then immediately recess it. But while storm warnings had messed up travel plans for important attendees such as Paul Ryan, who is expected to arrive in Tampa on Tuesday, the weather on the ground is behaving nicely. Weather Underground calls for showers, isolated thunderstorms, and 20 mph winds for Monday, with scattered showers and thunderstorms the rest of the week.
In the New Orleans area, however, things are different. Residents of 300-mile swath of the Gulf Coast were told to evacuate as the latest predictions had Isaac reaching hurricane strength and making landfall by early Wednesday. Fortunately, Isaac isn't as strong as Hurricane Katrina, which took a similar path almost seven years ago to the day. "As of Monday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center projected Isaac would come ashore near New Orleans as a strong Category 1 storm, with top winds around 90 mph," CNN reported. Airlines canceled flights along the Gulf Coast, and FEMA and local emergency authorities announced their preparations at a Monday news conference. The city of New Orleans hasn't been evacuated, but the Los Angeles Times' Brian Bennet reports that "internal homeland security reports indicate that residents in the low-lying Ninth Ward in New Orleans have largely 'self-evacuated.' " The whole Katrina connection is spooky, but it's just a coincidence, and the aftermath will likely be a lot less severe this time, as authorities and residents learned their lesson about preparedness seven years ago. New Orleans Governor Bobby Jindal, though, has decided to skip the convention and pitch in at home.