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Hurricane warnings out for US gulf coast, including New Orleans, as Isaac hits Florida Keys

Isaac hits Florida keys, grounding hundreds of flights.

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Tropical Storm Isaac is headed toward the Florida Keys Saturday, but is gathering strength for a potential landfall in the northern Gulf Coast later this week. (The Weather Channel/Courtesy)

Tropical storm Isaac hit the Florida Keys today, grounding hundreds of flights as the Gulf Coast braces for Isaac's arrival in hurricane form later this week, according to The Associated Press

Hurricane warnings have been issued for a large area ranging from Louisiana -- including New Orleans -- all the way to Destin, Florida, said AP, with forecasters saying the storm could reach a robust Category 2 by the time it makes an appearance along the coast. 

With winds already at more than 60 miles an hour, Isaac on Sunday succeeded in grounding a total of 742 flights, said AP

More from GlobalPost: Hurricane Isaac: GOP cancels first day of convention

Homeowners, meanwhile, are bracing for some serious losses. A recent storm track suggests that $36 billion in Gulf Coast residential homes could be flooded, with Louisiana likely to be hit the hardest, Reuters said, citing Sunday analysis from the data company CoreLogic.

The hurricane warning has lead to panic in New Orleans, a city still recovering from the devastating 2005 Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans' mayor today declared a state of emergency there, following the lead of Louisiana state governor. 

Mississippi also later declared a state of emergency on reports of possible storm tides of 6 to 12 feet into coastal estuaries.

People are not happy about the situation, with one New Orleans meteorologist, asked about Isaac on local radio early Sunday, saying "things [are] not looking the best for us," according to Reuters

CBS apprehensively announced: "7 years after Katrina, NOLA braces for Isaac," while The Shreveport Times worried, "Will Isaac hit New Orleans on Katrina anniversary?" The 2005 storm struck on August 29 and killed over 1,000 people

The Florida-based US National Hurricane Center expects Isaac to arrive on the coast either late Tuesday or early Wednesday, reported AP

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120826/hurricane-warnings-out-us-gulf-coast-including-n