Hurricane Isaac hits 7 years to the day after Katrina
Hurricane Isaac made a second landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River, at Port Fourchon, Louisiana early in the morning of 29th August 2012 local time, exactly seven years following the landfall of Katrina.
The storm centre is at the time of writing about 100 kilometres SW of New Orleans. Isaac is described as a large and slow-moving storm, with potential hazards as far away as east Texas and west Florida. Hurricane conditions are expected to continue for warned areas for at least another 12 hours.
Isaac is moving inland over the state of Louisiana, at the extremely slow speed of 10 kph. Near-hurricane force winds have been reported at New Orleans Airport in Kenner, LA.
New Orleans itself has had extensive work done to its levees since Hurricane Katrina. Reports so far say that while some water has washed over the levees, the levees themselves have remained undamaged.
A 29 kilometre section of levee did fail at Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans. Storm surge levels of 2.5 metres are still being reported at several marine stations, after a peak of 3.3 metres.
Surge levels on Lake Pontchartrain have been reported as high as 1.5 metres. Inland flooding continues to be a significant threat due to the slow motion of the storm, and the flat terrain of the affected areas.
Inland tornadoes are also being reported as an ongoing threat. Both the inland flooding and tornado threats will continue as the storm continues to slowly move inland.
The National Hurricane Center predicts that Isaac, now downgraded to a tropical storm, will move northwest into Louisiana over the next 12-15 hours before making a gradual turn to the north by Friday into Arkansas. Areas affected by this very large storm include the lower Mississippi Valley, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
As with most US hurricanes, aggregate losses could add up significantly for Isaac. Fitch Ratings reported that catastrophe model vendor AIR has issued an insured loss estimate of US$300 million to US$7.5 billion. However, given that the event is still ongoing and that it is so soon after the event, loss estimates must be regarded as highly uncertain and this is confirmed by the broad nature of the estimated loss.