Isaac Now a Hurricane, But It’s Still No Katrina

Despite similar paths and timing, the two storms are “not even comparable.”

Willie Drye

Having just reached hurricane strength, Hurricane Isaac is poised to make landfall in New Orleans Tuesday night—just hours before the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s Gulf Coast landfall.

Though Isaac’s timing is drawing inevitable Katrina comparisons, scientists and storm-savvy Gulf residents don’t see the hurricane as the second coming of Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi coast.

Rated a Category 1 hurricane—with wind speeds of at least 75 miles an hour (120 kilometers an hour)—Isaac is no lightweight, having already killed 22 in the Caribbean.

The hurricane is also expected to cause significant damage on the Gulf Coast, dumping as much as 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain on parts of Louisiana. New Orleans in particular could see winds up to 75 miles an hour, which could fel trees and contribute to widespread power outages.

Even so, Isaac and Katrina are “not even comparable, as far as intensity,” said Gavin Phillips, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s New Orleans/Baton Rouge Weather Forecast Office in Slidell, Louisiana.

“There’s the déjà vu thing with the date, but they’re not even close.”

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