The boardwalk at the tourist town of Gulf Shores was virtually deserted except for John McCombs, who ventured out to see waves lapping at the seawall at the public beach
Within moments he was drenched and running for cover as a band of rain hit the wooden walkway.
"That's it. It's here," he said, scurrying back across the street.
Isaac was centered about 30 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River on Tuesday afternoon and 105 miles from New Orleans, moving northwest at 8 mph.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center warned that Isaac, especially if it strikes at high tide, could cause storm surges of up to 12 feet along the coasts of southeast Louisiana and Mississippi and up to 6 feet as far away as the Florida Panhandle.
On Tuesday morning, there were few signs on New Orleans' famed Canal Street that a hurricane was imminent. A group of apparently intoxicated tourists asked 30-year-old Adrian Thomas to snap their photo as he scanned the headlines of The Times-Picayune in a newspaper box.
Thomas said he was waiting for his father to wire him money so he could leave for his hometown of Greenville, Miss., which is along the Mississippi River more than 200 miles from the coast. However, he said he might not make it out in time — and he was just fine with that.
"I believe it's going to be all right," he said. "If I have to stay here and ride it out, I'll ride it out."
Associated Press writers Cain Burdeau in New Orleans; Kevin McGill in Houma; Holbrook Mohr in Gulfport, Miss., and Jay Reeves in Gulf Shores, Ala., contributed to this report.
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