On Sunday, September 13, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and mandatory evacuations have been ordered in some areas as the north-central Gulf Coast prepares for the impact of Tropical Storm Sally. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in the following areas in Louisiana:
- In New Orleans for all residents living outside of the parish's levee protection system, covering Venetian Isle, Irish Bayou, and Lake Catherine, from 18:00 (local time) on Sunday.
- For Grand Isle from 09:00 on Sunday
- For all St. Charles parish
- For the Jean Lafitte area of Jefferson parish, including Barataria and Crown Point
- For Pleasure Blend in St. John the Baptist parish and low-lying areas of the parish north of Interstate 10, including Frenier, Peavine, and Manchac. A voluntary evacuation order is in place for the rest of the parish
- For the entire East Bank of Plaquemines parish and from Phillips 66 Alliance refinery to Venice on the West Bank
Schools and university campuses have been closed in many areas and the Louisiana National Guard has deployed more than 1200 soldiers and airmen, 51 high-water vehicles, eight helicopters, and two engineer work teams in preparation for the storm.
In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves also declared a state of emergency on Sunday. Officials have set up sandbag stations, ordered boat owners to move their vessels out of city marinas and harbors, and closed islands and areas of national parks along the coastline. Campers at the Davis Bayou campground were told to evacuate by 09:00 on Sunday.
The tropical storm has already brought heavy rain to Florida as it passed off the state's west coast over the weekend and flooding is possible through Monday, September 14. According to the latest bulletin from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) at 01:00 (CDT time) on Monday, the storm system was located 265 km (165 mi) south of Pensacola (Florida) and traveling west at 19 kph (12 mph), carrying maximum sustained winds of 95 kph (60 mph). The NHC forecasts that Sally will continue to strengthen and could become a hurricane by the time it makes landfall near the Louisiana/Mississippi border overnight on Monday. The storm system is forecast to move slowly over the northern Gulf Coast through Wednesday, September 16, bringing strong winds, heavy rainfall, and storm surge to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The NHC has issued the following watches and warnings:
- A storm surge warning is in effect from Port Fourchon (Louisiana) to the Alabama/Florida border, as well as for Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, Lake Borgne, and Mobile Bay
- A hurricane warning is in effect from Morgan City (Louisiana) to the Mississippi/Alabama border and for Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, including metropolitan New Orleans
- A tropical storm warning is in effect from the Mississippi/Alabama border to Indian Pass (Florida) and from Intracoastal City (Louisiana) to west of Morgan City
- A hurricane watch is in effect from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Alabama/Florida border
- A tropical storm watch is in effect between Indian Pass to the Ochlockonee River (Florida)
Wind damage, coastal flooding, and dangerous sea conditions are expected during the passing of the storm, and significant disruptions to transportation, business, and utilities are likely in the coming days.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from late May through to the end of November, with activity typically peaking in late August and early September. Numerous tropical storms form in the Atlantic Ocean during this period, with most affecting the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the east coast of the United States. Although communities in the region are generally well prepared for adverse weather conditions during the hurricane season, severe storms bring a significant risk of flooding and infrastructural damage.
Organized tropical activity tends to peak in August and September. Storms tend to flood sections of highways and cause dirt-based roads to become temporarily impassable. More organized systems, depending on intensity, can prove catastrophic in terms of tidal surge, wind damage, flooding, and mudslides.
Those in the above areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions before setting out, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.
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