Hurricane Gustav Comes Ashore; New Orleans Levees Hold

September 1, 2008

A weakened but still powerful Hurricane Gustav made landfall around 10:30 a.m. eastern time today as a Category 2 storm.

When it touched land, the hurricane's strongest winds were blowing at about 110 miles (177 kilometers) an hour, making it just one mile an hour below Category 3 status, said meteorologist Jessica Schauer-Clark at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.

The storm's high winds pushed a 12-foot (3.6-meter) storm surge into coastal Louisiana this morning, sending water pounding over New Orleans' recently repaired levees.

(See photos of the storm's effects on New Orleans.)

But as of 3 p.m. eastern time, the city's levees were holding up against their most severe test since catastrophic Hurricane Katrina caused them to fail in August 2005.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported this afternoon that wind-driven water was spilling over the Industrial Canal levee near downtown New Orleans, but that there were no indications the levee was going to fail.

The newspaper also reported that water sloshing over the levee had caused about 6 inches (15 centimeters) of flooding in the city's Lower Ninth Ward.

That neighborhood saw the worst flooding when the Industrial Canal levee gave way in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Parallel Path

Gustav slammed into Cuba Saturday with winds of 150 miles (241 kilometers) an hour, but its trek across the island's mountains weakened it significantly.

The hurricane is thought to have killed at least 94 people since it started its journey across the Caribbean Sea as a tropical storm on August 25.

Keith Blackwell, a meteorologist at the University of South Alabama's Coastal Weather Research Center in Mobile, noted that Gustav encountered cooler water as it neared the Louisiana coastline, and this caused it to weaken as it made landfall.

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