PHILADELPHIA — A one-two punch of rain and high wind from a monster hybrid storm that started out as a hurricane battered Pennsylvania, leaving more than a million people without power as officials prepared to assess the damage Tuesday.
The storm soaked Philadelphia and its suburbs Monday night but forecasters said the worst was behind the state by daybreak Tuesday.
Major interstates around Philadelphia reopened Tuesday morning although some speed and vehicle restrictions remained in place across the state. Additional road closures were likely in the day ahead, as the center of the storm was forecast to turn north from the Harrisburg area.
The severity of the storm in Pennsylvania expressed itself during the day Monday through a set of increasingly worrisome numbers, from the hundreds of people who fled their homes in the southeastern part of the state to the power outages affecting more than 1.2 million customers by early Tuesday.
(Updated at 1:13 p.m.)MIAMI — Isaac became a hurricane Tuesday that could flood the coasts of four states with storm surge and heavy rains on its way to New Orleans, where residents hunkered down behind levees fortified after Katrina struck seven years ago this week.
Shelters were open for those who chose to stay or missed the chance to get away before the outer bands of the large storm blow ashore ahead of a forecast landfall in southeast Louisiana on Tuesday night or early Wednesday. However, with the exception of some low-lying areas, officials had not ordered mass evacuations.
In Houma, a city southwest of New Orleans, people filled a municipal auditorium-turned-shelter. However, in the bayou country of Terrebonne Parish off Highway 24, storms pose a perennial dilemma for those living a hardscrabble life.
The storm swiped south Florida on Sunday before moving into warm Gulf waters, where it is expected to strengthen into a hurricane.
On its current track, Isaac was due to slam into the Gulf Coast anywhere between Florida and Louisiana by Tuesday night or early Wednesday, the seventh anniversary of Katrina hitting New Orleans, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
“The weather is going to go downhill well in advance of that and that’s why today is the day of preparation,” said NHC director Richard Knabb.