HOUSTON: Tropical storm Sally will move over the north-central Gulf of Mexico on Monday before becoming a hurricane as it heads toward southeastern Louisiana, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. “Strengthening is expected over the next day or so, and Sally is forecast to become a hurricane by tonight, with additional strengthening possible before the center crosses the northern Gulf Coast,” the Miami-based weather forecaster added.
The second storm in less than a month to threaten the region, Sally is forecast to strengthen on Monday and bring heavy rains and winds of up to 85 miles per hour (137 km/h). Mississippi and Louisiana issued mandatory evacuation orders to residents of low-lying areas, and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards appealed for a federal disaster declaration and advised people living in Sally`s path to flee.
Residents of southwest Louisiana are still clearing debris and tens of thousands of homes are without power after Hurricane Laura left a trail of destruction. Energy companies scrambled to pull workers from offshore oil and gas production platforms. Chevron Corp, Equinor and Murphy Oil Corp shut in wells as a precaution, and refiner Phillips 66 halted processing at its Alliance refinery on the Louisiana coast.
At 7 a.m. CDT, Sally was 115 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, packing winds of 65 miles per hour, according to the NHC. It warned the storm`s advance would slow in the next two days, dumping 8- to 16-inches (20-40 cm) on the coast and causing widespread river flooding.