Tropical storm Isaac took aim at Louisiana and other US Gulf states yesterday, prompting them to declare states of emergency almost seven years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
The storm was lashing the Florida coast and with winds reaching 100 kilometres per hour, could reach hurricane force today, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre warned.
Early yesterday, Isaac was churning 290 kilometres southwest of Fort Myers, Florida, heading across the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where it was expected to gather strength.
Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama issued emergency warnings on Sunday, 24 hours after Isaac forced the main programme of the US Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, to be curtailed by one day.
Ahead of Isaac's expected landfall today or tomorrow along the Gulf coast, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley ordered mandatory evacuations in the southern counties of Mobile and Baldwin.
In Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal recommended voluntary evacuations within the hurricane watch area.
Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Mississippi-Louisiana border on August 29, 2005 - eventually killing around 1,800 people in New Orleans.