It is uncanny that another storm is forecasted to make landfall on the Gulf Coast the same day that Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on The Big Easy 7 years ago. The timing of Isaac's landfall is only one of the few similarities between the two storms. With that said, let's break down the differences between Isaac and Katrina.
Tropical storm Isaac has been much more unorganized and less intense than Katrina from the start but even more so a day before landfall. When you look at the satellite images of the two storms at the same point in the Gulf of Mexico, Issac does not have and never has had a well defined eye and is asymmetric but Katrina has a well-defined eye surrounded by central dense overcast.
The intensity of a hurricane is measured on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The hurricane falls within a given category, 1 through 5 based on how how intense the sustained winds are. Hurricanes that fall into the 1 through 3 category are considered major hurricanes.
Isaac’s maximum winds haven’t yet reached 74 mph which is a weak hurricane. As of the latest advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Isaac is still a strong tropical storm with sustained winds of 70 mph. The forecast is for Isaac to become a hurricane but that still remains to be seen, as it looks as though it may run out of real estate before that happens. At one point Katrina had maximum sustained winds up to 175 mph and by the time it made landfall, the winds dropped to 120 mph but it still was a major hurricane coming in at as a category 3 hurricane.
Lastly and most importantly, Isaac is slightly smaller in size and has lower winds and higher pressure which means it should not generate a devastating storm surge up to 12-16 feet around New Orleans and up to 27 feet in coastal Mississippi like Katrina did.
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