Thousands evacuate as dueling storms take aim at U.S. Gulf CoastThousands evacuate as dueling storms take aim at U.S. Gulf Coast Residents look at workers at an area affected by the passage of Tropical Storm Laura, in Port-au-PrinceBy Jennifer Hiller and Ernest Scheyder HOUSTON (Reuters) – Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura tore through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, forcing thousands of coastal residents in Louisiana and Cuba to flee, and flooding roads in Haiti’s capital, with damage across the region expected to worsen this week.Marco, which strengthened into a hurricane on Sunday with sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), is forecast to make landfall along the Louisiana coast on Monday.Laura, which hit the Dominican Republic and Haiti earlier on Sunday, killing at least 10 people before striking Cuba on Sunday evening, is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall in Texas or Louisiana on Thursday.U.S. President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration on Sunday for Louisiana. He had previously issued a similar declaration for Puerto Rico.In New Orleans, Billy Wright spent his Sunday buying bottled water, non-perishable food and an attic ax, which can be used to chop through a roof if floodwaters block doors and windows. The 33-year-old attorney lives with his fiancee in a one-story house just blocks from a canal that failed during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.”You’d rather have it and not need it than be stuck in your attic with rising floodwaters,” said Wright. „Getting two storms back to back is a big concern.”Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned that tropical storm-force winds would arrive by Monday and told residents that if they did not leave by Sunday night they should be prepared to ride out both Marco and Laura.Laura could strengthen into a Category 2 or 3 hurricane on the 5-step Saffir-Simpson scale for measuring hurricane intensity and move west, closer to Houston, said Chris Kerr, a meteorologist at DTN, an energy, agriculture and weather data provider Category 2 storms have sustained winds of at least 96 mph (155 kph). The threshold for Category 3 storms is 111 mph (178 kph).In the Dominican Republic, at least three people died, including a mother and her 7-year-old son, due to collapsing walls. Laura knocked out power to more than a million people in that country, forced more than a thousand others to evacuate and collapsed several homes along the Isabela River, authorities said.In Port-au-Prince people wading waist-deep in muddy water in some of the worst flooding the Haitian capital has seen in years.Haitian authorities reported seven deaths, including at least two people swept away in flooding and a ten-year old girl crushed when a tree fell on her home. Coastal neighborhoods of the capital were strewn with debris.Laura hit eastern Cuba on Sunday evening with sustained winds of 60mph (95 kmph) downing trees and ripping flimsy roofing from buildings as it began a forecast 24-hour-treck from east to west along the southern coast of the largest island of the Caribbean.The Cuban government said power was cut in the easternmost province of Guantanamo and would be shut down province by province as winds picked up across the country as a preventive measure.Officials and residents, already exhausted by a six-month battle with the coronavirus pandemic and the severe scarcity it has brought, scrambled as Laura bore down to evacuate thousands along the coast and in inland areas vulnerable to flooding.LOUISIANA, TEXAS BRACE Back-to-back hurricanes hitting the U.S. coast within days could result in a prolonged period of hazardous weather, the National Hurricane Center said on Sunday.The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent teams to operations centers in Louisiana and Texas, spokesman Earl Armstrong said. The agency is prepared to handle back-to-back storms, he said, pointing to 2004 when four hurricanes took aim at Florida in a six-week period.Officials in Louisiana’s coastal Lafourche Parish ordered residents of low-lying areas to evacuate by noon on Sunday. The U.S. Coast Guard also raised its warning for the Port of New Orleans, calling for ships to make plans to evacuate some areas.The storms added to worries about the spread of COVID-19. Tulane University, the largest private employer in New Orleans, said it will close its testing center on Monday.In Grand Isle, at Louisiana’s southern tip, authorities were placing sandbags to bolster its protective levy while energy companies pulled workers from offshore platforms and shut down oil production.Equinor has finished evacuating its Titan oil-production platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and shut-in oil production at the facility, a spokesman said on Sunday. BHP Group Plc also shut and evacuated its Shenzi and Neptune oil platforms, a spokeswoman said.Oil producers, including BP Plc, Chevron Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, had shut 58% of the Gulf’s offshore oil production and 45% of natural gas production on Sunday. The region accounts for 17% of total U.S. oil production and 5% of U.S. natural gas output(Reporting by Jennifer Hiller, Ernest Scheyder and Gary McWilliams in Houston, Marc Frank and Sarah Marsh in Havana, Andre Paultre in Port-au-Prince, Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Santo Domingo, Barbara Goldberg in New York and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Lisa Shumaker and Daniel Wallis)
Hurricane Marco is expected to move near the Louisiana coast on Monday, followed by Tropical Storm Laura later this week, as warnings have been issued for parts of the Gulf Coast.
Tropical storm watches and warnings are in effect from southeastern Louisiana to the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines. Hurricane watches and warnings are also in effect along the southeast coast of Louisiana.
Cities such as New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi, are under a tropical storm warning and locations right along the coast are also included in the hurricane alerts.
Marco is expected to gain some strength today and then quickly move into the Gulf Coast — southeastern Louisiana remains the location where a landfall could occur and depending on the exact track that could be sometime Monday afternoon or evening.
As Marco nears the coast, atmospheric conditions will become unfavorable and begin to impact the storm. As of now, Marco could make landfall as a strong tropical storm.
As the storm nears the north central Gulf Coast on Monday, areas of rain and gusty winds will begin to impact some areas by Monday morning.
The larger impact is likely to be later Monday afternoon and evening across southeastern Louisiana and the Mississippi coast, with heavy rains, strong winds and storm surge. Some areas could see 2 to 4 inches of rain and several feet of storm surge during high tide.
Tropical Storm Laura
Tropical Storm Laura strengthened Sunday and now has winds of 60 mph and is moving west to northwest at 21 mph. The center of the storm is over eastern Cuba.
The storm brought life-threatening flash flooding over portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. At least five deaths have been registered in Haiti as a result of Tropical Storm Laura, the Haitian Civil Protection Agency said on Twitter.
There are tropical storm watches and warnings for parts of Hispaniola, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
There is also a tropical storm watch for the Florida Keys and the waters off southern mainland Florida.
The National Hurricane Center is still forecasting that Laura will come ashore along the Gulf Coast as a Category 2 hurricane by later Wednesday and into Thursday.
Areas of potential impact
As with all tropical systems, the area to the right of the center is where the greatest impacts will occur. Right now, the center of Marco looks to be coming ashore somewhere on the Gulf Coast from southern Louisiana to southern Mississippi, with the likely region being very close to New Orleans.
Marco is expected to make landfall on Monday. When the storm comes ashore it could bring a storm surge of 2 to 6 feet, rainfall of up to 6 inches, possible tornadoes and strong winds.
Laura will move across Cuba overnight into Monday. Locally, over 8 inches of rain, strong winds and dangerous surf is expected from Hispaniola to Cuba over the next 24-30 hours. This will likely cause flash flooding and mudslides.
The official forecast track shows Laura possibly reaching the southern Gulf of Mexico as Marco is making landfall on Monday.
The forecast after this point remains somewhat uncertain. However, in forecast models, there is increasing agreement in a strengthening storm moving towards the U.S. Gulf Coast later this week.
Californians braced Sunday for a troubling shift in the weather that was expected to bring unpredictable winds, more sizzling temperatures and potential lightning strikes that could ignite new wildfires across an already ravaged state.
Firefighters have been battling more than 600 blazes – sparked by a staggering 12,000 lightning strikes – for a week. About 1.1 million acres of land has been torched. Most of the damage was caused by three clusters of fire “complexes” ripping through 1,175 square miles of forest and rural areas in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The fires have burned about 1,000 homes and other structures, forced tens of thousands to flee, killed six people, blanketed communities with a pall of dangerous smoke and haze, and left residents on edge.
“Tuesday night, when I went to bed, I had a beautiful home on a beautiful ranch,” said Hank Hanson, 81, of Vacaville. “By Wednesday night, I have nothing but a bunch of ashes.”
California wildfires become a target for looters: A firefighter is among the victims. His wallet was stolen, bank account ‘drained.’
The National Weather Service issued a “red flag” warning through Monday afternoon for the Bay Area and the central coast, meaning extreme fire conditions, including high temperatures, low humidity and wind gusts up to 65 mph, “may result in dangerous and unpredictable fire behavior.”
There was the potential for scattered „dry” thunderstorms over much of Northern California, the weather service said, and lightning could spark new blazes.
Mark Brunton, a battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), said the winds can blow a fire in any direction, increasing the peril. “There’s a lot of potential for things to really go crazy out there,” he said.
Cal Fire unit chief Shana Jones urged residents Sunday to take the red flag warnings seriously. „What this means, is that any lightning that comes through … it’s going to likely result in additional fires. We do have a plan in order to immediately attack those fires, but it’s going to take some work.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of being prepared to leave,” Jones said.
Two blazes ballooned into the second- and third-largest in the state’s history, according to Cal Fire. Among the casualties of the fires: ancient redwood trees at California’s oldest state park, Big Basin Redwoods, and the park’s headquarters and campgrounds.
A sixth fatality was reported Sunday night in Santa Cruz County, where the local sheriff’s office confirmed the death of a 70-year-old man in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire.
Fire crews made small progress over the weekend, and some evacuation orders were lifted. But the ominous weather reports had officials warning residents new orders could be coming.
“There’s not a feeling of pure optimism, but a feeling of resolve, a feeling of we have resources backing us up,” Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Saturday that the White House granted the state’s request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration – despite President Donald Trump publicly chiding California over the wildfires last week.
About 14,000 firefighters man the lines, according to Cal Fire, and crews have been working around the clock. Jones said reinforcements have been streaming in. „I’m pleased to report more resources have been arriving to help fight our fires,” Jones said. „The LNU Complex remains the No. 1 priority for immediate resources as they become available from other incidents that were in California and for other resources outside the state.”
Despite the assistance, „we are definitely far from getting these fires handled. We’re not out of the woods by far,” Jones said.
Lightning danger: This is how a lightning storm can start a wildfire
The Sonoma County sheriff’s office released dramatic video of a helicopter rescue Friday night of two firefighters trapped on a ridge line at Point Reyes National Seashore. They were pulled to safety as flames raced.
“Had it not been for that helicopter, those firefighters would certainly have perished,” Sheriff Mark Essick said.
Of the two biggest blazes, the SCU Lightning Complex Fire was 10% contained Sunday; the LNU Lightning Complex Fire was 17% contained.
Contributing: Joel Shannon and Grace Hauck, USA TODAY; Scott Linesburgh, The Stockton (Calif.) Record; Joe Szydlowski, The Californian (Salinas, Calif.); The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California fire map, wildfires: Lightning could ignite new blazes
Two hurricanes are expected to slam into the US Gulf Coast in the coming days, forecasters said Sunday, as Tropical Storm Laura killed at least 12 people when it struck Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
US media said twin hurricanes were unprecedented in the Gulf of Mexico since records began 150 years ago.
Tropical Storm Marco strengthened into a hurricane with winds of 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour, and is forecast to hit the state of Louisiana on Monday.
Tropical Storm Laura hammered Haiti and the Dominican Republic with heavy rain, killing at least 12 people — 9 in Haiti and three in the Dominican Republic.
It was set to become a hurricane on Tuesday that could hit the US coastal region on Wednesday.
Energy companies have suspended some oil and natural gas production in the Gulf as the weather deteriorates.
The US National Hurricane Center said Storm Laura was „bringing torrential rainfall and life-threatening flooding” to Haiti, which shares Hispaniola island with the Dominican Republic.
The storm killed three people in the Dominican Republic’s capital Santo Domingo, said Juan Manuel Mendez, head of the country’s Center of Emergency Operations.
A woman and a child died at home, while a young man died when a tree fell on his home, Mendez said.
The storm has flooded houses, cut off remote villages and left more than one million Dominicans in the dark, Mendez added.
In neighboring Haiti, a 10-year-old girl was among the nine dead, authorities said. They said some homes were flooded and evacuations were underway.
– Flooded homes –
With brown water up to their knees, some residents tried to save what they could from their flooded homes, while street traders saw their goods washed away.
„I didn’t know there was bad weather forecast. We don’t often have electricity in my neighborhood so I couldn’t follow the news on the radio,” said Sony Joseph, trembling with cold.
The Atlantic storm season, which runs through November, could be one of the busiest ever this year, with the Hurricane Center predicting as many as 25 named storms. Laura is the 12th so far.
Haiti, a country of 11 million, has seen a relatively low incidence of COVID-19 — with just over 8,000 cases and around 200 deaths to date — but authorities urged caution to prevent further spread in the aftermath of Storm Laura.
„Wear your masks and respect distances, especially in temporary shelters,” Interior Minister Audain Fils Bernadel said at a briefing Saturday. „With COVID, we have considerably less capacity in our shelters.”
Storms pose a serious risk to Haiti every year from June to November. Even a heavy rainfall can threaten the country’s poorest residents, many of them living in at-risk zones, near canals or ravines that can be obstructed by debris and quickly overflow.
The Miami-based Hurricane Center said on Sunday that „a slightly stronger Laura was just south of eastern Cuba” after sending „life-threatening flash flooding likely over the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica.”
Marco was expected to bring „life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds” to parts of the US Gulf coast on Monday and Tuesday, the NHC warned.
MONROE, La. — Tropical Storm Marco grew to hurricane strength Sunday, one of two powerful storms marching toward the Gulf Coast and threatening a historic double slam of landfalls within miles of each other.
Marco is likely to make landfall in Louisiana late Monday. And, then, Tropical Storm Laura is expected to reach hurricane status before it roars into the state Wednesday.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Benjamin Schott said such a confluence of storms hasn’t happened in the Gulf of Mexico in recorded history. Isolated areas could see 15 inches of rain from the two storms, he said.
„We have a very unique situation with two storms that unfortunately are headed to Louisiana,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday. „They pose a challenge we have quite frankly not seen before.”
Edwards said the „one-two punch” of hurricanes will blanket the state’s coastline with storm surge as high as 10 feet in some areas and prompt flash flooding in others. He said residents should be ready to shelter in place for at least 72 hours, warning that it may not be possible to deploy rescue helicopters and high-water vehicles after Marco’s storm surge if Laura comes in right behind.
Because of the COVID-19 threat, Edwards said, the state plans to activate large shelters with congregate settings only „as a last resort.” Instead, the governor said, he’s working with the federal government to use hotels and motels if large evacuations become necessary.
Officials in LaPlace, 30 miles upriver from New Orleans, distributed sandbags in low-lying areas and urged residents to seek cover and prepare.
St. John the Baptist Parish, which includes LaPlace, has had one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in the nation.
“People are still in shock with so many people lost to this virus,” said Larry Soraparu, a former parish councilman. “Now, we have two hurricanes in the Gulf and no one’s sure what’s going to happen.”
He added: “Tensions are rising.”
On Grand Isle, south of New Orleans, Starfish Restaurant manager Nicole Fantiny watched a long line of people driving off the barrier island.
“They are all packing up and leaving,” she said. “My house was built in 1938, so I think we’re good.”
Louisiana State University canceled all classes, activities and COVID-19 testing centers on campus Monday due to Hurricane Marco, the university announced Sunday.
As of 8 p.m. EDT, Hurricane Marco was about 180 miles south-southeast of the Mississippi River, powering maximum sustained winds of 75 mph as it slid to the north-northwest at 13 mph. Marco continued on a track for landfall in Louisiana on Monday, when it will blast parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with storm surge, heavy rainfall and strong winds.
The storm is expected to hook westward and possibly reach Texas as a tropical depression Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Laura was located over Cuba on Sunday night after killing at least seven people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The storm was traveling west-northwest at 21 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor said his teams were „on the ground and ready to support.” Downpours and gusty winds drenched the island, and nearly six inches of rain fell in some areas, prompting flood warnings.
Laura was forecast to sweep over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico late Monday into Tuesday.
„Environmental conditions will be more favorable for strengthening, and Laura is expected to become a hurricane prior to reaching the Gulf Coast,” Accuweather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller warned. Landfall could come Wednesday.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency.
„We are in unprecedented times,” Reeves said. „We are dealing with not only two potential storms in the next few hours, we are also dealing with COVID-19.”
Cay Wiser of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, lost her home to a Category 4 hurricane in 2005. She said she’s not overly concerned about Hurricane Marco, which is expected to make landfall as a Category 1, but she’s preparing.
„I’ve got food, I’ve got cases of water, my generator is working, I think I’ve got everything,” she said. „I don’t get nervous until it’s a high (Category) 2. If they were talking about a high 2 or a 3, I’d think about leaving my house.”
The storms could keep coming as tropical waves emerge off the coast of Africa, according to Accuweather Meteorologist Bernie Rayno. The heart of the 2020 hurricane season, which is just getting underway, is expected to be extremely active, he said.
The Atlantic hurricane season already has been a record-breaker. Laura is the earliest L-named storm in the Atlantic Basin, breaking a record held by Luis, which formed Aug. 29, 1995. This season has had 13 named storms, well above normal activity.
Bacon reported from McLean, Virginia. Contributing: Rick Jervis and Jessica Flores, USA TODAY; Brian Broom, The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.); The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tropical storm Laura, Hurricane Marco: Double hurricanes possible
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Gulf Coast braced Sunday for a potentially devastating hit from twin hurricanes as two dangerous storms swirled toward the U.S from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Officials feared a history-making onslaught of life-threatening winds and flooding along the coast, stretching from Texas to Alabama.
A storm dubbed Marco grew into a hurricane Sunday as it churned up the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana. Another potential hurricane, Tropical Storm Laura, lashed the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and was tracking toward the same region of the U.S. coast, carrying the risk of growing into a far more powerful storm.
Experts said computer models show Laura could make landfall with winds exceeding 110 mph, and rain bands from both storms could bring a combined total of 2 feet of rain to parts of Louisiana and several feet of potentially deadly storm surge.
“There has never been anything we’ve seen like this before, where you can have possibly two hurricanes hitting within miles of each over a 48-hour period,” said Benjamin Schott, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service’s Slidell, Louisiana, office.
The combination of the rain and storm surge in a day or two means “you’re looking at a potential for a major flood event that lasts for some time,” said weather service tropical program coordinator Joel Cline. „And that’s not even talking about the wind.’’
Where precisely Marco was headed — and when the storm might arrive — remained elusive Sunday.
President Donald Trump approved Louisiana’s request for federal help related to the pair of storms, Louisana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a news release Sunday.
He had submitted the request to Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Saturday.
The hurricane was initially expected to make landfall Monday, but the National Hurricane Center said that “a major shift” in a majority of their computer models now show the storm stalling off the Louisiana coast for a few days before landing west of New Orleans — and likely weakening before hitting the state. However, skeptical meteorologists at the center were waiting to see if the trends continue before making a dramatic revision in their forecast.
Marco is a small storm that may be pushed westward along the Louisiana coast, delaying landfall but worsening storm surge, Cline said.
The prospect of piggybacked hurricanes was reviving all-too-fresh memories of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005. The storm has been blamed for as many as 1,800 deaths and levee breaches in New Orleans led to catastrophic flooding.
“What we know is there’s going to be storm surge from Marco, we know that that water is not going to recede hardly at all before Laura hits, and so we’ve not seen this before and that’s why people need to be paying particular attention,” Edwards warned at a Sunday briefing.
Along the main drag on the barrier island of Grand Isle, south of New Orleans, Starfish Restaurant manager Nicole Fantiny could see an exodus of people driving off the island.
“They are all packing up and leaving,” she said.
Fantiny wasn’t planning to leave, at least for Marco, but she was anxious about the possible one-two punch from both storms. Her husband works with the town’s fire and police departments, so she said they are always among the last ones to leave.
“My house was built in 1938 so I think we’re good,” she said hopefully.
Marco is expected to dance above and below hurricane status after hitting the 75 mph-wind mark Sunday afternoon.
“The central Gulf could be really under the gun between Marco and Laura in back-to-back succession,’’ said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. “Certainly both of these storms can impact New Orleans significantly. It just remains to be seen if the track for Laura tracks a bit to the west.”
University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy warned that anyone in New Orleans should be alarmed by the threat. At issue from possible dual hits: whether the levee system can withstand the stress, he said.
In New Orleans, the city’s aging drainage system has been a particular point of concern in recent years after an intense 2017 storm flooded streets and raised questions about the system’s viability.
Because the city is surrounded by levees and parts are below sea level, rainwater must be pumped out to prevent flooding. Any storm system that sits over the city and dumps rain for extended periods of time, or bands of rain that come in rapid succession, is a cause for concern.
New Orleans resident Matthew Meloy and two friends loaded a van with cases of bottled water in the parking lot of a New Orleans Walmart Sunday. He said they still have a lot of storm preparations ahead.
“Check the batteries, flashlights, stocking up on food and trying to park the car on the highest point possible we can find,” he said. “I already spent like 40 minutes this morning filling up the tanks in the cars.”
Tourists were strolling through the New Orleans French Quarter under overcast skies as workers boarded up shop windows. Louisiana corrections officials were evacuating 500 inmates from a jail in Plaquemines Parish, near the coast, to another facility in preparation for the storms.
In Kenner, just outside New Orleans, resident P.J. Hahn said checkout lines in a Sam’s Club reached to the back of the store, while authorities said 114 oil and gas producing platforms in the Gulf have been evacuated as the storms churn toward the Louisiana coast.
Because of strong winds from the southwest, Marco may attain and then lose hurricane status before it hits land, meteorologists said. But those winds could be gone when Laura ventures to the central Gulf, where the usually bathtub-warm water is a degree or 2 (0.5 to 1 degree Celsius) warmer than normal, Klotzbach said.
The warmer the water, the stronger the fuel for a hurricane.
“It, unfortunately, might peak in intensity about landfall. That’s the one thing I worry about with this one,” MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel said of Laura. His multiple computer simulations show a decent chance of winds of more than 110 mph for Laura at landfall, as do other computer models.
The key for Laura’s future is how it survives Cuba. Originally forecast to rake over almost the entire length of the island and potentially weaken, the storm late Sunday moved further south, skirting the island. If that continues, it is more likely to come out strong enough to power up over the favorable environment of the Gulf of Mexico, Klotzbach said.
If that continues, Laura could hit further west in the Gulf, possibly into Texas instead of Louisiana, he said. If it hits Louisiana that would break the record for two named storms hitting the state so close together. The current record is five days apart in 1885, Klotzbach said.
And there’s one long-term possibility that adds to the risk. As Laura moves north after landfall into Oklahoma, there’s a chance it will be caught up into the jet stream, travel east and emerge over North Carolina and return to tropical storm status, McNoldy and Klotzbach said.
By late afternoon Sunday, Laura was 50 miles (80 km) south of Guantanamo, Cuba, with 60 mph (95 kmh) winds moving west-northwest at 21 mph (33 kmh). Marco was 240 miles (390 km) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, with 75 mph (120 kph) winds, moving north-northwest at 13 mph (20 kmh).
In Empire, Louisiana, about 50 miles south of New Orleans near the mouth of the Mississippi River, shrimp, oyster and fishing boats line the docks. It was eerily quiet Sunday evening, as most fishermen had already secured their boats. Mike Bartholemey was putting extra blocks of wood under his recently dry docked 50-foot shrimp boat “Big Mike,” out of his concern that hurricane winds might topple his boat to the ground.
In Venice, a fishing town on the Mississippi River, shrimper Acy Cooper was up early Sunday to move his three shrimp boats from the harbor into the bayous nearby to ride out the storm. It’s the same area where he moored his boat during Hurricane Katrina.
The boat survived; his house in Venice did not.
Martin reported from Marietta, Georgia. Borenstein reported from Kensington, Maryland. AP reporter Stacey Plaisance in New Orleans; and photojournalist Gerald Herbert in Empire, Louisiana, also contributed.