(The Center Square) – Hurricane Sally is expected to make landfall late Tuesday or Wednesday as a Category 2 storm, forecasters said Monday.
The storm shifted to the east overnight, so Louisiana is unlikely to take a direct hit from Sally less than three weeks after Hurricane Laura’s devastation, though the potential for heavy rain and flooding remains.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards cautioned that southeast Louisiana still could be in the storm’s path.
“Everyone needs to continue to pay very close attention [to Sally],” he said.
Edwards spoke with Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and said Louisiana will assist Mississippi after the storm if needed and if Louisiana has assets it doesn’t immediately need.
At 4 p.m. Monday afternoon, Sally had sustained winds of about 100 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center reported. A hurricane warning was in effect from Morgan City to the northwestern Florida panhandle.
The storm is moving slowly, which increases the risk of flooding. Eight to 16 inches of rain are predicted, with as much as 24 inches possible in isolated areas.
Sally could bring seven to 11 feet of storm surge from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Miss., as much as five feet in Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, and as much as four feet at Port Fourchon, forecasters said.
The White House on Monday granted Louisiana’s request for a pre-landfall disaster declaration for 30 parishes, which opens the door to direct federal financial assistance.
Almost 13,000 Hurricane Laura evacuees are being sheltered in Louisiana, mostly in New Orleans hotels. Edwards said he was relieved that it appeared they wouldn’t need to evacuate again. More than 5,000 Louisiana residents are sheltering in Texas.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has paid more than $89 million to victims of Hurricane Laura so far, while the U.S. Small Business Administration has paid out more than $19 million, Edwards said.
About 79,000 buildings in southwest Louisiana remain without electricity because of the damage Hurricane Laura did to the region’s infrastructure.
There are currently five named storms in the Atlantic Ocean, the most since 1971, Edwards said.