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Louisiana Prepares for Second Hurricane in Three Weeks

Tropical storm sally
Tropical Storm Sally churns westward past southern Florida and Cuba, September 12 (NASA)

By The Maritime Executive 09-13-2020 10:24:09

On Monday, less than three weeks after Hurricane Laura struck communities on the Texas/Louisiana border, Tropical Storm Sally is expected to strengthen and make landfall in Louisiana as a Category 1-2 hurricane. Current projections indicate that the storm's center will arrive just east of Port Fourchon at about 2300 hours local time on Monday night. 

A hurricane warning is now in effect between Morgan City, Louisiana and Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The warning also covers Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and the New Orleans metro area. 

A storm surge warning is in effect for the region east of Port Fourchon to the Alabama state line, including all of Mississippi's coastline. Depending upon the storm's time of arrival relative to the tide, the surge between the Mississippi River's mouth and Ocean Springs could be as much as seven to 11 feet. Lake Pontchartrain could see a surge of as much as 4-6 feet. 

As it moves inland, the storm is expected to drop up to a foot of rain over a wide swath of the central Gulf Coast, and the deluge could reach as much as two feet of rain in isolated areas.

Effective Sunday, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Sector New Orleans set port condition "Yankee" for all areas within its jurisdiction. The affected ports and waterways include the Mississippi Ship Channel, a segment of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Port of New Orleans and Port of South Louisiana. The restricted status means that only ships with permission of the Captain of the Port may enter, transit or remain in the covered area. In general, ships intending to arrive are cautioned to seek an alternate safe destination.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency in preparation for the storm's arrival. "[We] have every reason to believe that this storm represents a very significant threat to the people of Southeast Louisiana," he said at a briefing on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the work to reopen waterways after Hurricane Laura is still under way. The Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working on the task of fully reopening the Calcasieu Waterway between Cameron and Lake Charles, Louisiana, home to several large petrochemical and refining complexes. Shoaling on the Calcasieu Bar is restricting vessel draft to 36 feet. 

The nearby ports of Sabine, Port Arthur and Orange were also affected by restrictions after Hurricane Laura, but navigation limits have been lifted.