More than 24 hours after reaching landfall, the storm formerly known as Hurricane Isaac has barely nudged north and continues to dump heavy rains on Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Some locations are reporting as much as 19 inches of rain in the last day, though in most areas there are totals between 6-to-14 inches. Homes and businesses are flooded and power outages have affected nearly three-quarters of a million people across the region. There have also been numerous reports of tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama and more touchdowns are expected today.
However, the sustained winds of the now tropical storm have slowed down to around 45 mph and the rain is beginning to subside along the lowest reaches of the coast. The storm is expected to be downgraded to a tropical depression by the end of the day.
While storm surges have rushed over the top of some natural barriers — Plaquemines Parish on the southeast coast of Louisiana appears to be the hardest hit — it appears that key storm levees and pumping stations have mostly held their ground, particularly in the city of New Orleans. Flooding is still a major problem to be sure, especially in many low-lying areas, but the storm surges and winds did not come in with nearly the force that they during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
More than 1,600 people have been rescued from floods across three states, but remarkably, we have only seen one report of a U.S. fatality related to the storm. (And it's not clear that storm caused it, as much as it was just an unfortunate accident.) The heavy early warnings and mandatory evacuations seemed to have made a big difference. The other silver lining is that as the storm does eventually move north and then east, it should bring much needed rain to drought-stricken parts of the Midwest, including Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.
For now, though, the storm continues to move at a glacial place and there is another long day of rain expected, particularly in Mississippi. It will be several more days after that before storm waters recede and power can be restored.