(The Blaze/AP) -- Tropical Storm Isaac is already hitting the Florida Keys with rain and wind, and it may become an even stronger hurricane as it makes its way toward the northern Gulf Coast.
Isaac is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast by Tuesday or Wednesday - the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. That storm caused disastrous flooding all along the coast. A hurricane hasn't hit the Gulf Coast since Ike in 2008.
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION
Party officials are trying to cram four days of convention events and festivities into three as Isaac approaches. The storm is not expected to directly hit Tampa, but those in attendance - and especially those protesting outside - can expect to get wet.
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Most of the damage down by Isaac so far has been in the Caribbean. At least seven people were killed by flooding in Haiti, including in tent cities filled with earthquake victims, and two others in the Dominican Republic. Isaac scraped Cuba, downing power lines and trees. As of early Sunday afternoon, the storm was just beginning to hit the Florida Keys and had done little damage aside from scattered power outages.
WHERE WILL IT HIT?
On Sunday afternoon, Isaac is expected to pass over the Florida Keys. From there, it will hit somewhere along the northern Gulf Coast.
Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center have warned that right now, it's extremely difficult to determine exactly where on the Gulf Coast Isaac will make a direct hit. But it is expected to gain significant strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and is likely to become at least a Category 2 storm. And it is a massive system: Tropical storm conditions extend as far as 200 miles from the center, meaning even communities not in the direct path could get a lashing.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have both declared a state of emergency in their respective states
National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb reportedly told Bryant on a conference call that forecasters expect Isaac to strengthen into a hurricane, driving a storm tide of 6-12 feet into coastal estuaries.
"We are just on high alert. I know the anxiety level is high," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu remarked. "The storm is somewhat uncertain. Out of an abundance of caution we will begin to take these precautions as quickly as we can."
However, he assures that the city will be able to handle a crisis much better than it did back in 2005.
"We are much, much better prepared structurally than before," he assured, adding, "If you are called upon, you should leave."