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NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Isaac bore down on the U.S. Gulf Coast on Tuesday, packing swirling winds and rain and posing a major test of the region's new flood control systems seven years after Hurricane Katrina sent walls of water crashing across its shoreline.

Rain and tropical storm force winds were expected to spread into the region in the coming hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, as computer forecast models increasingly showed the storm likely to make landfall late on Tuesday near southeastern Louisiana as a full-blown hurricane.

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