As heavy rains and strong winds lashed the southern part of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Saturday the Tropical Storm Lee has begun to barrel down the Gulf Coast now.
Lee has produced multiple tornadoes and flash flooding in the New Orleans area Saturday, and residents have been issued an evacuation order because of possible flooding from storm surge, tides and rain.
The sluggish storm will dump heavy rain across the Gulf Coast and into the Southeast. Along with central and southern Louisiana, there are flood warnings for portions of inland southeast Mississippi, southwest Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.
Lee also knocked out power of thousands people in Louisiana and Mississippi on Saturday. Around 38,000 customers had lost power, but the figure was cut to 12,000 later, Entergy reported.
At 7 a.m. Saturday, the center of Tropical Storm Lee was about 110 miles west southwest of New Orleans, moving north northwest at 7 mph. Maximum winds accompanying the storm near its center are 60 mph. Forecasters said maximum winds in the New Orleans area will reach 40 to 50 mph today, with gusts to 75 mph, or near hurricane strength.
From New Orleans to Mississippi rain has been relentless since Friday morning as steady downpours mixed with gusty winds of up to 40 miles per hour as Lee approached from the south on a slow moving, impacting path. Tropical storm warnings are in effect from Pascagoula, Miss. across the coast to Sabine, Texas.
Tornado watches and warnings have been posted throughout the region, according to reports. Jindal has declared a state of emergency in 10 parishes, and Mississippi has declared a state of emergency for its coastal counties.
According to the NOAA, 10 to 15 inches of rain are possible with isolated totals to 20 inches, especially south of Lake Pontchartrain and along the Mississippi coast. The storm will have maximum winds of 60 mph (95 kmh).
Meanwhile, hurricane researchers and meteorologists are keeping their eye on Hurricane Katia, which is making its way through the South Atlantic. That storm's project path according to this Google app is still unclear, but it could definitely make its way to the East Coast.