Gov. Edwards has declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Delta, which is moving through the Gulf of Mexico after slamming the Yucatan Peninsula.
Forecasters expect the storm to make landfall in Louisiana late Friday night or early Saturday morning.
In a press conference this afternoon Edwards said that the entire Louisiana coast remained inside the storm’s track. “This is a very serious storm.”
Benjamin Schott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the entire coastline will likely experience tropical force winds.
"The category doesn't matter so much, this is going to be a major hurricane,” said Schott. "We want people to understand that the window to prepare starts to close on Friday.”
Six thousand people remain displaced after Hurricane Laura hit the west side of the state in August. They are scattered between 12 hotels in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette.
“This season has been relentless,” said an exhausted Edwards. “Since early March we’ve had one thing after another...but we don't get to pick our hand.”
Edwards encouraged people to wear masks and socially-distance as they prepared for the storm. He said the storm would force the state to shut down free community COVID testing over the weekend.
Hurricane Delta has entered the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to make landfall along the Louisiana coast “late Friday or Friday night,” according to the 4 p.m. forecast update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
4:45 p.m. Wednesday
Delta bowled through Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and has since reemerged as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour. It’s expected to strengthen into a major hurricane as it moves toward the Louisiana coast, before weakening slightly before landfall.
At the moment, hurricane-force winds extend about 35 miles from Delta’s center, and tropical storm-force winds extend outward about 125 miles.
The storm is currently forecast to make landfall just east of Grand Chenier, Louisiana, but could still shift and strike the coast as far west as Port Arthur, Texas or as far east as Morgan City, Louisiana.
A hurricane watch remains in effect for the following areas:
- High Island, Texas to Grand Isle, Louisiana
A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the following areas:
- San Luis Pass to west of High Island Texas
- East of Grand Isle Louisiana to Bay St. Louis Mississippi, including New Orleans
- Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas
A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions are possible in the next 48 hours, and a tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are possible in the next 48 hours.
A storm surge watch is in effect from High Island, Texas to the Alabama/Florida border. The following areas could see several feet of surge:
- Port O’Connor, Texas to High Island, Texas: 1-3 feet
- High Island, Texas to Calcasieu Lake, Louisiana: 2-4 feet
- Calcasieu Lake, Louisiana to Vermillion Bay, Louisiana: 4-7 feet
- Vermillion Bay, Louisiana to Port Fourchon, Louisiana: 7-11 feet
- Port Fourchon, Louisiana to the mouth of the Mississippi River: 4-6 feet
- The Mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Mississippi: 4-6 feet
- Ocean Springs, Mississippi to the Alabama-Florida border: 2-4 feet
The next full update from the NHC comes at 10 p.m. tonight.
1 p.m. Wednesday
City officials are calling for a voluntary evacuation of residential areas outside of levee protection, including St. Catherine and Venetian Isles, ahead of predicted surge brought by Hurricane Delta.
Delta is currently moving into the Gulf of Mexico after striking Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It’s expected to make landfall Friday night or Saturday morning somewhere between East Texas and the central Louisiana coast as a Category 3 hurricane, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Delta’s expected track has jogged slightly west once again, meaning less severe weather is expected in the New Orleans region, but city officials stressed that the storm’s ultimate path and intensity could still change and urged residents to pay close attention to official weather updates.
“We are watching this very, very closely ,” New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Colin Arnold said at a press conference Wednesday morning. “We’re not out of the woods by any means as far as effects from this storm.”
The main impacts to the New Orleans area are strong winds, flooding rain, and storm surge outside of levee-protected areas.
The NHC has issued a storm surge watch from High Island, Texas to the Alabama-Florida border. That includes Lake Pontchartrain, which is currently expected to see 3-5 feet of storm surge.
The highest surge is currently expected somewhere between Vermillion Bay and Port Fourchon along the central Louisiana coast, which could see 7-11 feet of surge.
A hurricane watch has been issued from High Island, Texas to Grand Isle, Louisiana -- encompassing most of coastal Louisiana. That means those areas could see hurricane conditions within the next 48 hours.
The New Orleans area is currently under a tropical storm watch, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible in the next 48 hours.
Arnold said there is a 10% chance of hurricane-force winds reaching the region, and a 60% chance of tropical storm force winds in the 25-35 mile per hour range.
The latest forecast also calls for 2-4 inches of rain over the next few days, but Arnold said 4-8 inches would be a safer assumption. Street flooding is possible if the rain is heavy enough over a short period of time.