MIAMI, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Louisiana Tuesday evening, bringing strong winds and a dangerous storm surge to the northern gulf coast, forecasters said.
The center of the Category 1 hurricane was about 10 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the National Hurricane Center said at 8:05 p.m. EDT.
Isaac was forecast to gradually weaken as it moves inland, with heavy rains and dangerous surf conditions posing the biggest threats. Lakefront Airport in New Orleans was experiencing sustained winds of 45 miles per hour, gusting to 62 mph, and a storm surge of 8.8 feet was reported at Shell Beach.
Isaac hit land one day shy of the seventh anniversary of when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and a wide swath of the Gulf Coast, killing about 1,800 people.
In its wake, Isaac left 24 dead in Haiti, which still is recovering from a devastating earthquake two years ago.
Hurricane-force winds gusting up to 130 mph had extended out as far as 60 miles from the center and tropical storm winds extended out 185 miles from the storm's center.
"Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle and can vary greatly over short distances," the hurricane center said.
The storm was expected to produce 7 to 14 inches of rain with 20 inches possible in some areas of southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama and the extreme western portion of the Florida Panhandle.
President Obama Tuesday urged area residents to heed warnings from local officials to head to higher ground. In Mississippi, 1,500 National Guard troops have been ordered into the state's southern counties to help with emergency operations.
Republican leaders at the party's national convention in Tampa, Fla., expressed concern Isaac's striking around the Katrina anniversary could remind voters of the George W. Bush administration's response, which party officials admitted was a symbol of collective GOP incompetence they don't want to revive.
GOP convention nominates Romney
TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Mitt Romney Tuesday became the Republican nominee for U.S. president at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, collected 2,061 votes by the time Wyoming announced its delegate vote.
Applause erupted after New Jersey announced its 50 votes, putting Romney over the 1,144-delegate threshold to secure the nomination. Alabama cast the first vote, announcing all 50 of its delegates for Romney.
"America needs a real leader and real change," John Sununu, a former governor of New Hampshire, said in his speech to place Romney's name in nomination.
"Now we are here to affirm a leader who will produce that change," Sununu said.
Ron Paul, the retiring libertarian U.S. representative from Texas, collected a smattering of votes, including the majority of the votes from Iowa, Minnesota and Nevada.
Several states cast votes for Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.
Steve King, a national Republican committeeman from Wisconsin, placed Romney's running mate Paul Ryan's name in nomination to be vice president. His nomination was approved by acclamation.
Ryan, King said, is "a man who can help us believe in America again."
Ryan is a "critical leader" the country needs now, said King, who like Ryan is from Janesville.
"Mitt Romney believes that. Do we?" King said, when nominating Ryan.
Obama: 'We're one family'
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama broke a time-honored gentlemen's agreement and campaigned in Iowa and Colorado Tuesday as Republicans opened their convention.
Obama wowed the crowd, estimated at 6,000, at Iowa State University in Ames before heading to Fort Collins, Colo., and an appearance at Colorado State University.
En route to Ames, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters the president was paying attention to developments in the Gulf of Mexico and would alter his campaign swing should Hurricane Isaac devastate the gulf coast.
As he began speaking, Obama said officials have been readying for the storm for days.
"America will be there to help folks recover, no matter what this storm brings because when disaster strikes, we're not Democrats or Republicans first. We are Americans first," Obama said to applause.
"We're one family. We're one family and we help our neighbors in need."
Obama, whose 2008 campaign galvanized young voters, attempted to recreate the magic.
"Your vote decides where we go from here," he said, returning to familiar campaign themes, pointing out policy differences between him and Mitt Romney, who is set to become the GOP presidential nominee this week.
"Last week my opponent's campaign went so far as to write you off as a lost generation. That's -- that's you, according to them," he said.
"They -- and then what they hope is that by telling you these things you'll get discouraged and you'll just stay home this time. But -- but -- but you can't -- you can't believe it. The -- I don't believe it."
Speaking later to students at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Obama said of Republicans: "On issue after issue, these guys seem to just want to go backwards. Sometimes they want to go back 10 years, sometimes 20, sometimes 50, sometimes 100. This isn't the time to refight battles that we've already settled. In November you can say that in this century, women should be trusted to make their own healthcare decisions. ... That's not who we are. We go forward. We don't go backwards."
United Airlines' system down for 2 hours
CHICAGO, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- United Airlines' computer network went offline for 2 hours Tuesday afternoon, causing delays and forcing some passengers to rebook, the airline said.
"We have a network outage & are working to get systems back online," the airline tweeted at 3 p.m. CDT, following 2 1/2 hours later with a message saying its Web site and flights were back online and the company was "in the process of resuming operations and rebooking customers."
"It's a zoo," Rick Cartwright, who was scheduled to depart Chicago's O'Hare for Dayton, Ohio, at 6:45 p.m., told the Chicago Tribune. "I fly in and out of here almost every week, and I've never seen as many people in Terminal 1 before; I've never seen it this crowded."
He said airlines employees were issuing handwritten boarding passes and luggage tags for at least an hour.
"The lines I'm looking at were probably several hundred people," he said. "Even if everything is back online, it's going to take awhile to get all of them through in time for their flights."
Karen Pride, a Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman, told the newspaper no other airlines were affected.
"The airline is issuing a waiver policy permitting customers on affected flights to cancel or rebook their itineraries without penalty," United said in a statement. "United apologizes for the disruption caused to travelers at affected airports and is re-accommodating customers as quickly as possible."
FlightAware.com said United's system was down from about 2:20 p.m. to 4:20 p.m. CDT and noted there likely will be "issues and cascading delays through the evening."
The computer problems, which caused the Federal Aviation Association to suspend arrivals in Newark, N.J., Houston, and San Francisco, were unrelated to Hurricane Isaac, NPR reported.