Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle are preparing for another potential hurricane this weekend as Tropical Storm Nate is expected to strengthen to a Category 1 storm and reach landfall on Saturday. Louisiana and Alabama have declared states of emergency, while declarations of emergencies have remained local in Mississippi.
As of publication time, Tropical Storm Nate was situated between Cuba and Central America with sustained winds of 50 mph. Tropical storms are moved to Category 1 hurricane status at 74 mph. Forecasters are predicting Nate to reach Category 1 strength sometime Saturday night, Oct. 7, just before it reaches the southeastern tip of Louisiana.
As of 1 p.m. CDT on Friday, Oct. 6, the National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Warning for Grand Isle, La., to the Alabama/Florida border. A Storm Surge Warning was extended to Morgan City, La., and the northern/western shores of Lake Pontchartrain.
Although winds are expected to be relatively low, affected areas are in more danger of flooding. Central Gulf Coast states are expected to receive 3-6 inches of rain with a maximum of 12 inches in certain areas. However, storm surges can bring tides 4-7 feet above ground level.
On Thursday, Oct. 6, Gov. John Edwards declared a statewide state of emergency for Louisiana after six parishes had already done so and numerous other parishes where in the process of following suit. The order is in effect until Nov. 4 if not terminated sooner. Tolls at the LA 1 Expressway near Leeville are suspended until further notice.
Gov. Kay Ivey also announced a statewide emergency for Alabama on Thursday. Emergency declarations for Alabama and Louisiana make room for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration exemptions for drivers providing direct relief.
Meanwhile in Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant has not issued a statewide emergency declaration as of publication time. However, mayors in several coastal cities, including Biloxi and Hattiesburg, have made the move locally. FMCSA exemptions will not apply to Mississippi unless the governor declares a statewide state of emergency.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation announced the following updates at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 6:
- The I-55 pavement rehabilitation project in McComb has been halted, and both northbound lanes are open to traffic throughout the weekend.
- On the Interstate 10 widening project in Jackson County, two lanes will be open in both directions. Traffic barrels will remain in place on a 10-mile stretch of this project between Vancleave and the Alabama state line.
- Sand removal crews are on standby and equipment-ready along U.S. Highway 90 on the Gulf Coast.
- MDOT Enforcement Officers are prepared and on standby to assist MDOT maintenance crews and local law enforcement with traffic control as needed.
- Motorists should be prepared to encounter congestion near drawbridges in coastal counties. There is potential for the drawbridges to be in use more frequently as marine vessels seek shelter.
- Highway 57 at Red Creek in Jackson County remains closed after recently being struck by a truck carrying a track hoe. Motorists are advised to continue following posted signs and use State Route 26, State Route 63 and I-10 as alternate routes.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 29 counties in the northern section of the state. Certain truck regulations will be waived for those providing direct relief in affected counties.
NEED TO KNOW: A trucker's guide to hauling disaster relief loads
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