Tropical Storm Isaac is predicted to become a Category 2 hurricane by Wednesday, but it is much weaker than Katrina's damaging category 5 status. Still states of emergency were in place throughout much of the Gulf Coast region Monday.
With its massive size and ponderous movement, Tropical Storm Isaac was gaining strength Monday as it headed toward the Gulf Coast. The next 24 hours would determine whether it brought the usual punishing rains and winds — or something even more destructive harkening back to the devastation wrought seven years ago by Hurricane Katrina.
The focus has been on New Orleans as Isaac takes dead aim at the city, but the impact will be felt well beyond the city limits. The storm's winds could be felt more than 200 miles from the storm's center.
The Gulf Coast region has been saturated thanks to a wet summer, and some officials have worried more rain could make it easy for trees and power lines to fall over in the wet ground. Too much water also could flood crops, and wind could topple plants such as corn and cotton.
"A large, slow-moving system is going to pose a lot of problems: winds, flooding, storm surge and even potentially down the road river flooding," said Richard Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. "That could happen for days after the event."
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