CNN writes this morning that Isaac is "following the track of Katrina." We talked in our news meeting about the similarities between Isaac and Katrina this morning. First, the track is not really the same, as you can see from the comparison below. The official NHC track has it west of New Orleans, while AccuWeather has it on the other side of the city (as of 10 AM 8/27). Isaac will also enter the coast at a different angle than Katrina. (Remember you can get the latest official and model tracks for Isaac at http://Tinyurl.com/AccuIsaac).
The different landfall location and angle of the track is actually bad news -- Katrina hit to the East so the worst storm surge was in Mississippi, not New Orleans, which had its own problems with flooding. Isaac will (if the NHC track comes true) push its highest storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. But here's where the good news comes in: the models are no longer suggesting a Category 2-3 storm, rather a Category 1 (see below, yellow = Cat 1), because Isaac still hasn't gotten its act together. Unlike Ike, which was producing storm surge all over the Gulf by the time it was in Isaac's position, little storm surge is occurring from Isaac as of this writing.
Strengthening to at least a minimal hurricane almost assuredly will occur once the atmospheric factors improve, but Isaac is running out of space to do that strengthening, and if he sits still too long, he could upwell cooler water which will retard that strengthening. That said, the end game is going to be very hard to predict, especially between the exact landfall point and the oil spill and levee issues. People absolutely should heed local evacuation notices (I am quoted in a story about what happens when you stay behind on an island) but right now, Isaac is NO Katrina.
And finally, let's not forget coastal Mississippi, who may get the worst of the storms surge, in an area where Katrina delivered her worst. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is all over it with an impressive Emergency Operations Room, according to their Facebook Page.
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