Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

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Friday, September 02, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee forms on Louisiana Gulf Coast

Graphic courtesy of Weather Underground

Tropical Storm Lee has formed in the Gulf of Mexico just south of New Orleans and is already making its way on shore. Tropical Storm warnings are already in place along the coast from Sabine Pass, TX to Pascagoula, MS.

Tropical Storm Lee could hit as near-hurricane with 20 inches of rain (Christian Science Monitor)
The storm center is expected to close in on the southeastern coast of Louisiana this weekend at near-hurricane strength, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

It is currently is projected to dump 10 to 15 inches of rain on southern portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, with isolated pockets getting up to 20 inches.

Forecasters say they expect a storm surge of 2 to 4 feet along the coasts affected by the storm's on-shore winds.

The potential for large rainfall totals stems from the significant amounts of moisture feeding the storm and from its glacial pace, forecasters say. The storm system is moving at a lethargic 2 miles an hour. (By contrast, hurricane Katia, currently in the Atlantic, is traveling a bit more smartly along its path at some 15 miles an hour.)

Moisture bands from TS Lee are already coming ashore Friday afternoon and slowly moving to the north and east.

Radar graphic courtesy of Weather Underground

The slow moving is expected to dump close to two feet of water on draught parched lands in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Heavy thunderstorms are predicted as far as north Georgia by Monday.

Tropical Storm Lee's biggest threat is flooding, Gov. Bobby Jindal warns
The main threat from Tropical Storm Lee is flooding caused by heavy rainfall, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Friday, though higher tides accompanying the storm already have prompted voluntary evacuation recommendations for Grand Isle and lower Lafourche Parish.

"Flooding is our primary concern," because of the slow-moving nature of the storm, Jindal told reporters at a news conference at the state's Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge, with heavy rain expected to fall on south Louisiana through Tuesday. He said that in some areas, tornadoes may also be reported.

"We expect it to drop a significant amount of rain totaling 10 to 15 inches in some areas and up to 20 inches in isolated areas" in the next few days, Jindal said . He said there is a remote chance the system could develop into a Category 1 hurricane before it blows through the area..

"Tides could be 2 to 5 feet higher than normal," he said. Sustained winds could be 25 to 35 miles an hour with some gusts 40 to 50 miles an hour, Jindal said.

The governor said that as of midday, southernmost parts of two parishes had called for a voluntary evacuation of low-lying areas: the Grand Isle community of Jefferson Parish and the area of Lafourche Parish south of the Golden Meadow floodgates. He said about 25,000 feet of "tiger dams" owned by Jefferson Parish were being deployed to the Lafitte area in anticipation of flooding there.

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