Louisiana Declares a State of Emergency as Storm Builds in Gulf of Mexico

by Zagros on August 11, 2020

Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency for Louisiana, including New Orleans, on concern a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico may build into a bigger storm that will slam into the coast as early as Wednesday night.

“The forecast from the National Weather Service indicates that the coastal parishes of Louisiana will be subjected to tropical force conditions to such a degree that life and property will be placed in jeopardy,” Jindal said in statement posted on the State of Louisiana website.

Louisiana will likely be hit by the storm tonight or tomorrow, with tropical or hurricane force winds affecting the coast prior to the storm making landfall, the statement said.

The storm is expected to delay by two or three days BP Plc’s efforts to plug the damaged Macondo well in the Gulf, source of the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, Commander Thad Allen said in a conference call with reporters yesterday. Allen heads the Obama administration’s efforts to stop and clean up the oil spill.

The tropical depression was located 240 miles (385 kilometers) south-southeast of Apalachicola, Florida and about 340 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River at 2 a.m. Miami time today, the National Hurricane Center said in a statement. The system is moving northwest at 5 miles per hour and is expected to intensify into a tropical storm today.


A tropical storm warning is in place from Destin, Florida, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, including Lake Pontchartrain and New Orleans, the Hurricane Center said. The storm may bring as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain along the north and northeast coast of the Gulf, home to about 31 percent of U.S. oil output.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused New Orleans levees to fail, flooding the city and killing more than 1,800 people. Together with Hurricane Rita, the two storms caused $91 billion in damage, destroyed 115 energy platforms in the Gulf, and shut down 95 percent of Gulf oil production and almost 30 percent of U.S. refining capacity, according to government reports.

A repeat of Katrina would cause $6 billion to $9 billion in damage to offshore platforms, rigs and wells, according to models created by Risk Management Solutions Inc. of Newark, California.

Sustained Winds

The weather system may intensify into a weak tropical storm, fed by heat from the Gulf’s warm waters, said Ken Graham, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. A high pressure dome that is baking the central U.S. is shifting, pushing the storm deeper into Louisiana rather than Texas as earlier forecast, Graham said.

The depression’s maximum sustained winds were 35 miles per hour, and the system is expected to turn west-northwest and move faster later today, the center said.

A tropical depression is a low-pressure system that has started to rotate and has its strongest winds at its center, according to Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the hurricane center.

A depression’s strongest sustained winds are less than 39 miles per hour, the threshold at which it becomes a tropical storm and is named. Danielle is the next name for an Atlantic storm, according to the hurricane center.

The hurricane center is also tracking two other systems. One in the central Atlantic has been given a 60 percent chance of organizing into a cyclone in the next two days, and a second off northern South America has a 10 percent chance.

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