NEW ORLEANS - Hurricane Isaac lashed southern Louisiana with high winds and heavy rains on Wednesday and was set for a late-morning arrival in New Orleans, seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.
Isaac is the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States this season. While not nearly as strong as Katrina -- which was a Category 3 storm when it slammed the Crescent City on August 29, 2005 -- Category 1 Isaac was still a powerful reminder of New Orleans' vulnerability.
The hurricane will be the first test for multibillion-dollar flood defenses built after levees failed under Katrina's storm surge, leaving large parts of low-lying New Orleans swamped.
The National Hurricane Center warned late on Tuesday that Isaac and its 80 mph (130kph) winds were producing dangerous storm surges, and that flooding from heavy rains was expected.
Isaac will also test the resolve of officials and the preparedness of a city and region where some 1,800 died in the 2005 hurricane, the costliest natural disaster in US history.