Hurricane preparation

People fill sandbags in preparation for a storm.

Local officials are urging caution as a disturbance that is expected to form into a tropical storm moves through the Gulf of Mexico toward the Louisiana coast.

A state of emergency has been declared in Livingston Parish, according to officials from the Livingston Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (LOHSEP).

The declaration was made “in anticipation of possible impacts” from the approaching storm system, LOHSEP Director Brandi Janes said.

In the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, forecasters said the disturbance was about 220 miles south of Morgan City moving north-northeast at 14 mph, with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph. This general motion is expected for the next day or so.

On the forecast track, the system is expected to make landfall along the north-central Gulf Coast tonight or early Saturday. Some strengthening is forecast, and there is a 90-percent chance of formation over the next 48 hours.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Gulf Coast east of Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida. This includes Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Metropolitan New Orleans.

A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within 12 hours, the National Hurricane Center said in a 10 a.m. update.

If it becomes a tropical storm, it will be named Claudette.

Heavy rainfall and gusty winds have already begun to reach portions of the northern Gulf coast.

LOHSEP officials said current projections for Livingston Parish are between 1.5-3 inches of rain with 35-40 mph winds and 1-2 feet of possible inundation in the Lake Maurepas area, which brings a potential for slight tornado activity.

“1.5-3 inches of rain is normal for our area for a regular thunderstorm,” LOHSEP said. “As always, things could change as the storm progresses through the next two days.”

Though a state of emergency has been issued, the parish has not activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) hotline but will do so if the need arises. Anyone with an emergency should call 911.

LOHSEP had made sand and sandbags available at 14 locations around the parish.

Denham Springs officials said they are “closely watching the forecast for this weekend and are preparing for inclement weather.” For any weather related concerns, people can contact the Denham Springs Emergency Operations Center at (225) 432-4517.

On Thursday, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statewide state of emergency due to the potential weather threats associated with Potential Tropical Cyclone 3.

Impacts from this system are expected to begin today and continue through much of Saturday. Though rainfall is expected to be the biggest threat, there is also a threat of coastal flooding, tropical storm force winds and isolated tornadoes.

Much of southeast Louisiana, including Livingston Parish, is under a tropical storm warning, a flash flood watch, and a coastal flood advisory.

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