Tropical Storm Sally is expected to hit the U.S. state of Louisiana early Tuesday as a Category 2 hurricane while mandatory evacuation was ordered in parts of the state.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami forecasted that Sally, which continues to strengthen across the Gulf of Mexico with sustained winds of 60 mph (about 96 kmph), could become a hurricane on Monday and reach shore by early Tuesday, bringing severe weather conditions to a region from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Storm surges of up to seven to 11 feet are possible near the center of the storm and just east of where landfall is expected. Besides, extreme rainfall amounts of over a foot are expected in some locations between southeast Louisiana and the western Florida.
Hurricane warnings have been issued from Morgan City, Louisiana, east to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas and all northern Gulf Coast states are urging residents to prepare.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said on Sunday that he had requested a federal declaration of emergency to allow for early support from the federal government.
“We have every reason to believe that this storm represents a very significant threat to the people of southeast Louisiana,” Edwards told a press conference.
“This, when combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, can make us all weary,” Edwards tweeted. “I implore Louisianans to take their preparations seriously.” A state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana ahead of the storm.
In coastal Louisiana, Grand Isle and St. Charles Parish are under mandatory evacuation orders, and a recommended evacuation notice went out to the community of Port Fourchon. St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell warned that the storm will cause widespread power outages.
“We want residents to heed our warnings and make preparations to leave now,” Jewell said on the official Facebook page of St. Charles Parish.
In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a mandatory evacuation order for areas outside of the city’s levee protection system. The evacuation will begin Sunday at 6 p.m. for the areas of Venetian Isles, Irish Bayou and Lake Catherine.
In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves also signed a preliminary state of emergency for the state. He has requested President Donald Trump “to provide the necessary guidance” for pre-landfall activity.
According to the governor, coastal areas such as Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Pearl River counties are listed in high risk of significant rainfall. These regions could face up to 15-20 inches of rain, creating high-rising water levels and the potential need of rescue teams.
On Sunday, oil company BP Plc and Equinor ASA evacuated staff from some offshore platforms following similar action by Chevron Corp and Murphy Oil Corp on Saturday.
Sally, a second storm disrupting oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in less than a month, follows Laura, a Category 4 hurricane that ravaged coastal Louisiana towns and left residents of Louisiana and Texas without power for weeks.