A tropical depression is moving ominously towards the U.S. Gulf coast on Friday, bringing with it torrential rains that threaten to dump 20 inches of rain on the region.
Forecasters predicted the storm would make landfall on Louisiana’s southern coast this weekend. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency Thursday warning of the possibility of “flash floods.”
“We know from experience that it’s best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” said Jindal.
He added, “Since we’re at the height of the hurricane season, now is a good time for Louisianans to make sure they have a game plan to protect themselves and their families if a major storm approaches our coast.”
As of 7 a.m. Friday the center of the depression was “nearly stationary south of the Louisiana Coast,” said the National Hurricane Center (NHC). It was located 210 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 250 miles southeast of Port Arthur, Texas.
It is possible that the depression could become Tropical Storm Lee – the 12th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season later today said the NHC.
“Wow. This could be a very heavy, prolific rainmaker,” said Frank Revitte, National Weather Service meteorologist, reported the Associated Press.
NHC predicts that storm winds could reach 60 mph by Saturday, lower than hurricane strength of 74 mph.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Pascagoula, Mississippi to Sabine Pass, Texas – including New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain, and Lake Maurepas.
Oil companies have started evacuating workers from rigs situated in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of the looming storm.
Forecasters believe the depression will continue to move in a “slow and possibly erratic motion” towards the northwest on a path towards the coast of Southern Louisiana.
NHC said the storm is expected to hit southern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama with 10 to 15 inches of rain through Sunday. It also possible that certain areas will get a maximum of 20 inches.