Posted: Aug 29, 2012 4:24 AM by CBS News
NEW ORLEANS - Hurricane Isaac was beginning to move inland in southeast Louisiana before dawn Wednesday on a slow, drenching slog toward New Orleans, seven years to the day after the much stronger Katrina hit the city.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Isaac remained a Category 1 storm with top sustained winds of 80 miles per hour, but was expected to weaken over the next 48 hours as it heads north over land. Isaac's center was forecast to pass over Louisiana for two days and head into southern Arkansas early Friday.
Isaac's winds and sheets of rain were whipping through nearly empty streets in New Orleans while, in neighboring Mississippi, the storm pushed Gulf water over sections of the main beachfront highway that runs the length of the state's shore.
Ryan Bernie, a spokesman for the city of New Orleans, said the storm had caused only some minor street flooding before dawn and felled trees, but had left roughly 125,000 customers in the city without power.
Isaac came ashore Tuesday night near the mouth of the Mississippi River, then was nearly stationary for several hours over the sparsely populated neck of land that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico.
It appeared headed for New Orleans, 70 miles to the northwest, on the seventh anniversary of Katrina. At 5 a.m. ET, Isaac was 60 miles south-southwest of New Orleans and plodding along toward the west-northwest at 8 mph, the hurricane center said.
One of the main concerns along the shoreline was storm surge, which occurs when hurricane winds raise sea levels off the coast, causing flooding on land. A surge of 10.3 feet was reported at Shell Beach, La. late Tuesday, while a surge of 6.7 feet was reported in Waveland, Miss., the Hurricane Center said.
Elsewhere in Mississippi, the main beachfront highway, U.S. 90, was closed in sections by storm surge flooding. At one spot in Biloxi, a foot of water covered the highway for a couple of blocks, and it looked like more was coming in with high tide, around 9:30 a.m.