NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Forecasters say the coming 24 hours will likely reveal if Tropical Storm Isaac will become a massive rain machine or become a destructive hurricane.
Predictions call for Isaac to intensify, possibly into a Category 2 hurricane, with winds of about 100 mph by early Wednesday, around the time it's expected to make landfall.
The massive storm's winds could be felt more than 200 miles from its center. The latest storm track forecast aims at New Orleans. But hurricane warnings extend across 280 miles from Morgan City, La., to the Florida-Alabama state line.
At 11 p.m. EDT, Isaac remained a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph. It was centered about 190 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and was moving northwest at 10 mph.
Officials say beside potentially destructive winds and storm surge, they are worried about extreme rainfall. The Gulf Coast region has been saturated already because of a wet summer. Intense rain could make it easy for trees and power lines to fall over in the wet ground. Too much water also could flood crops, and wind could topple plants such as corn and cotton.