Isaac: Closely Monitoring Storm’s Progress

Main Content
Author: 

(Update below was posted at 6:30 p.m. EDT, Monday, August 27. Find the latest Isaac update at the Hurricanes category on the blog.)

This evening, President Obama signed an emergency declaration for Louisiana, making federal assistance available to assist state and local governments with the preparation and response efforts to the effects of Tropical Storm Isaac. The President’s action authorizes FEMA to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Assistance has been made available to save lives and protect property and public health and safety in parishes of Ascension, Assumption, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, and Washington.

According to today’s forecasts from the National Hurricane Center, Isaac continues west-northwestward and is expected to strengthen into a hurricane as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico.  Isaac is expected to continue to move over the eastern Gulf of Mexico today and approach the northern Gulf Coast tomorrow.   Forecasts from the National Weather Service are calling for significant rainfall for much of the Gulf Coast as a result of Isaac.  As a result, flooding is likely to occur.  We urge coastal and inland residents to be familiar with flood and flash flood terminology and safety tips:

  • Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous. Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges, and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.  Remember – turn around, don’t drown.
  • The National Weather Service is the official source for weather information and severe weather watches and warnings, so follow your forecast at www.weather.gov on your computer or http://mobile.weather.gov on your phone.
  • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if local officials give notice to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flash Flood Warning: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

I’d like to remind everyone that this is not just a storm for New Orleans – this is a storm that will affect a large area around the Gulf Coast.  That means those in several cities, counties, and states will be affected by high winds, heavy rains, flooding, and possible power outages.  With that said, here’s a quick update on what we’ve been doing since our last update:

  • This morning, we activated the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., that provides overall coordination of the Federal response to natural disasters and emergencies, to support state requests for assistance from Gulf Coast states. 
  • Our Incident Management Assistance Teams remain on site at the state emergency operations centers in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.  These teams are working with our state partners and are at the ready for potential requests for assistance.
  • Mobile Emergency Response Support teams have also deployed to Florida and Alabama to support the states with secure and non-secure voice, video, and information services, operations, and logistics support to state response operations, and with any potential requests for assistance.
  • In advance of the storm, we moved basic commodities – like water, meals and blankets - closer to the potentially affected areas.  These supplies remain ready to quickly deploy if they are requested and needed by our state partners.

 


(Update below was posted at 12:10 p.m. EDT, Sunday, August 26)

The latest 5-day forecast track for Isaac, courtesy of the NOAA National Hurricane Center:

isaac five day forecast track

Reminder: The area in the cone above shows where the center of the storm may pass – individuals living anywhere within the cone should pay close attention to the latest forecasts for the direction of the storm.

New severe weather watches and warnings continue to come out from the NOAA National Weather Service as Isaac moves closer to the U.S.  Isolated tornadoes are possible in some areas of Florida today, so be sure to follow local TV and radio reports for your local forecast (also at weather.gov or mobile.weather.gov).  In addition, a hurricane watch has been issued for much of the Gulf Coast, stretching from the Florida panhandle westward to Morgan City, Louisiana (this includes New Orleans and Lake Ponchartrain.

A few operational highlights from this morning:

  • We have an Incident Management Team at the Emergency Operations Center in Louisiana to assist the state with coordination and any potential requests for assistance,
  • We are deploying an Incident Management team and liaison to Alabama to strengthen coordination, and
  • We are deploying a liaison to the Mississippi Emergency Operations Center as well.
  • Local officials have opened several shelters in Florida.  Contact your local emergency management office to learn about shelters in your area.
    • Or you can search for open shelters by texting SHELTER and a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA).  In addition, the American Red Cross also maintains a list of shelters at http://www.redcross.org/find-help/shelter.
    • Before you go to a shelter, always check with your local emergency management agency for availability & services.

And as a reminder for those who may be in the path of Isaac, you can get hurricane safety tips right on your phone by downloading these useful apps:

 


(Update below was posted at 4:00 p.m. EDT, Saturday, August 25)

 fork lifts moving supplies
Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 24, 2012 -- These forklift operators are loading meals onto a truck at the Atlanta Distribution Center to be shipped closer to areas that may be impacted by Tropical Storm Isaac. FEMA moves commodities and equipment before the storm arrives to ensure quick delivery after the storm has passed.

According to NOAA’s National Weather Service update at 2 p.m. EDT, Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to strengthen and become a hurricane tomorrow as the storm approaches the Florida Keys and parts of Florida.  Many areas in Florida are currently under severe weather watches and warnings due to Isaac, and here’s a reminder on what those terms mean:

  • A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions (sustained winds over 74 mph or higher) are expected within 36 hours. 
  • A Hurricane Watch, in this case, means that hurricane conditions are possible within the next 24-36 hours. 
  • A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds over 39 mph or higher) are expected within 36 hours. 
  • A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. 

For those in the potentially affected area, here are a few safety reminders:

  • Follow the direction of local officials.
  • Have a safe place to go as the storm passes.
  • Secure your property – clear loose or clogged drains, bring in outdoor furniture, decorations, or garbage cans.
  • Isaac is forecast to bring heavy rains: Don’t drive or walk through flooded areas. Remember: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

In Florida, the National Parks Service has closed the Big Cypress National Preserve, including all licensed commercial services and visitor services, until the passage of the storm. These closures are conducted in the interest of public safety, and to ensure park staff concentrates completely on securing and protecting park resources and facilities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also offering these tips to coastal residents who have livestock and pets that might be affected by Isaac:

Livestock Safety

  • Make sure barns and structures where live­stock can be sheltered are in good repair. If more space is needed for your stock, make arrangements for the use of other sheltering facilities in close proximity to your facilities.
  • Calculate the feed and water requirements to maintain livestock and poultry during an emergency.
  • Make preparations for protecting feed and water supplies and providing emergency electrical power if necessary.
  • If possible, cover feed and forage stored outdoors with a tarp or plastic sheeting. Routinely cover open water supplies, such as troughs and stock tanks.

Pet Safety

  • If you have not been ordered to evacuate, make sure you have enough pet food and water on hand to feed your pets during an emergency. 
  • An emergency pet shelter might be available near the human emergency shelter, check with your local emergency management agency to find the nearest emergency pet shelter to you. Do not stay behind with your pet if state or local officials order you to evacuate.
  • Pet owners should be prepared to provide the following information to pet shelter workers if possible: name; species and breed; sex; color; distinctive markings; age; microchip identification number; vaccination records; health conditions and required medication.

For additional safety tips for your livestock and pets, visit: www.usda.gov/disaster & www.ready.gov/animals.

From an operational perspective, today, we deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to the Louisiana emergency operations center, and we’ve had a liaison in the Florida emergency operations center since Thursday to assist the state with coordination and any potential requests for assistance.  As a follow-up from yesterday’s update, we coordinated with U.S. Northern Command to establish an Incident Support Base in Jacksonville, Florida to proactively stage commodities closer to areas potentially affected by severe weather.

meeting in fema region four
Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 24, 2012 -- FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino and Region IV Administrator Phil May participate in a video teleconference with FEMA Headquarters, the National Hurricane Center, and other FEMA regions to discuss preperations for Tropical Storm Issac.

  


(Update below was posted at 5:00 p.m. EDT, Friday, August 24)

meeting about tropical storm isaac
Washington, D.C., Aug. 22, 2012 -- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano meets with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to discuss Tropical Storm Isaac’s progress.

Yesterday, the storm passed to the south of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, however, a flash flood watch remains in effect for parts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. While the exact track of the storm is uncertain, the National Weather Service forecasts severe weather associated with Isaac may begin to affect parts of coastal Florida starting as early as this evening through Sunday.  This includes the potential for high winds, heavy rain and rough surf. 

If you are a resident or plan on visiting coastal Florida, here are some reminders:

  • Check your family’s emergency supply kit – make sure you have food, water, medications, and other necessities to sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours.
  • Follow the direction of local officials –any evacuation orders come from local officials, so follow their guidance. When it comes to swimming, follow local warnings as well. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by storms.
  • Keep up to date with local conditions – follow TV and radio reports from your area, or visit www.weather.gov (http://mobile.weather.gov on your phone) for the latest forecast.
  • Remember food safety – power outages and flooding may happen as a result of a tropical storm or hurricane, so have a plan for keeping food safe. Have a cooler on hand to keep food cold, and group food together in the freezer so it stays cold longer.

We will continue to work closely with our partners at the federal, state, tribal, and local levels as we prepare for the effects of Isaac.  Even if you don’t live in a hurricane-prone area, you can learn how to prepare for the natural or man-made events that could happen in your area at Ready.gov.
 


(Update below was posted at 6:20 p.m. EDT, Thursday, August 23)

Forecasts from the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service are calling for the storm to pass Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands today, with total rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches (with a maximum amount of 10 inches possible) in parts of the commonwealth and territories.

As we’re sure those in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are watching Isaac closely, the main threat at this time is flooding.  Remember – avoid walking or driving through flooded areas – it only takes six inches of fast-moving flood water to knock over an adult and two feet to move a vehicle.  Also, flooding can happen two ways: gradually or very suddenly.  If there is any possibility of the sudden kind, otherwise known as a “flash flood”, move immediately to higher ground. 

And as you follow your local weather forecast through local TV and radio, here are some flood terms to be familiar with:

  • Flood Watch - Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
  • Flash Flood Watch - Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
  • Flood Warning - Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Flash Flood Warning - A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

FEMA has activated an Enhanced National Watch in Washington, DC, as well as the Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) that supports Caribbean activities, to proactively support any potential needs or requests from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands or Florida. Today, we deployed a liaison to coordinate with the Florida Division of Emergency Management as Isaac moves towards the mainland U.S.   

We’re also making sure our commodities are in order and ready to go, if needed.  We maintain supplies, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories, including Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Looking ahead

Here’s the latest 5-day forecast track from the NOAA National Hurricane Center:

five day forecast track from national hurricane center

At this time, it is still too early to know where the storm could pose a threat to the U.S. Coast.  History shows that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly, so we’re encouraging coastal residents to monitor weather conditions and make sure you’re taking steps to prepare your home, family, or business.  For example, take today to replace any expired food or water in your emergency kit, and make sure you have enough supplies (including medications) for your family and pets.

Useful links

What to do before, during, and after a hurricane or tropical storm

Latest Isaac forecast from the National Hurricane Center

 


(Update below posted 5:30 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, August 22)

We continue to closely monitor Tropical Storm Isaac through both our Caribbean Area Office in Puerto Rico and Regional office in New York City.  Forecasts from the National Hurricane Center predict potential severe weather may begin as early as Thursday, in some areas of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Along with our federal partners, we are urging residents to take steps to prepare for severe weather, such as possible high winds, flooding, and possible power outages.

Here’s the latest 5-day forecast track of Isaac, courtesy of the NOAA National Hurricane Center:

five day forecast track from national hurricane center

Reminder: The area in the cone above shows where the center of the storm may pass - the effects of the storm will not be confined to the area within the cone.

What we’re doing

In advance of the storm, we have proactively deployed Incident Management Assistance Teams to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to coordinate with territory and local officials, should additional support be requested or needed.   Additionally, we have liaisons in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico emergency operations centers to further strengthen coordination.   These assets supplement federal resources and personnel that are staged year-round at FEMA’s Caribbean Area Office and Caribbean Area Distribution Center located in Puerto Rico. 

Residents or visitors in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands

  • Listen to the instructions of local officials. Local officials make decisions on sheltering in place or going to your pre-designated safe meeting location.
  • Have important supplies ready to sustain you and your family, if needed.  This includes a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, cell phone charger, medicines, non-perishable food, and first aid supplies.
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest forecast – Follow local radio and TV reports, as well as forecasts from the National Hurricane Center.  
  • For more tips on what to do before a hurricane or tropical storm, visit Ready.gov/hurricanes on your computer, m.fema.gov on your phone, or download the FEMA app from your smartphone’s app store.

Residents or visitors in Florida, the Gulf Coast, or the East Coast

At this time, it is still too early to know whether the storm could pose an immediate threat to the U.S. Coast.  History shows that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly, so FEMA encourages coastal residents to monitor weather conditions and take steps now to get prepared for potential severe tropical weather.  Since the storm is still a few days away, now is the time to check your emergency kit and family plan.
 

Useful links

What to do before, during, and after a hurricane or tropical storm

Latest Isaac forecast from the National Hurricane Center

Last Updated: 
08/28/2012 - 12:49
Posted on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 06:38
Skip Comments

Add new comment

Back to Top