Friday, September 2, 2011

Katia becomes hurricane again

Katia becomes hurricane again
Katia becomes hurricane again. Tropical storm warnings for US Gulf coast; rain up to 20 inches predicted. A slow-moving tropical system packing walloping rains is slogging its way to the Gulf coast, which could be drenched with up to 20 inches (50 centimetres), leading Louisiana's governor to declare a state of emergency Thursday because of the threat of flash flooding.

Tropical storm warnings are out from Mississippi to Texas including New Orleans. The National Hurricane Center said the system that is now a depression in the Gulf of Mexico will dump 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimetres) of rain over southern areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama through Sunday and as much as 20 inches (50 centimetres) in some spots. By Friday, it could become Tropical Storm Lee, the 12th named storm of the season.

Early forecasts were for landfall early Saturday afternoon in south-central Louisiana, though National Weather Service meteorologist Frank Revitte said it was too early for a firm time or location. The depression has sustained winds of 35 mph (56 kph) and was moving toward the northwest at only about 2 mph (3.2 kph) late Thursday.

"Wow. This could be a very heavy, prolific rain-maker," Revitte said.

According to a hurricane centre chart, maximum sustained winds could reach 60 mph by Saturday, lower than hurricane strength of 74 mph (119 kph).

As hurricane season is hitting its peak in the Atlantic, storm watchers were monitoring three disturbances. Besides the Gulf depression, Tropical Storm Katia is spinning in open waters. It weakened from a hurricane earlier in the day though forecasters say it will again grow stronger.

It was about 830 miles (1,336 kilometres) east of the Leeward Islands and moving west near 16 mph (26 kph) with maximum sustained winds Thursday evening near 70 mph (113 kph). It could become a major hurricane this weekend but forecasters said it's too early to tell if it will hit the U.S. It is expected to pass north of the Caribbean.

In yet another system, a slow-moving low pressure system about 360 miles (579 kilometres) north of Bermuda stood a 50 per cent chance in the next two days of becoming a tropical cyclone, the first step toward a tropical storm.

They all come on the heels of Hurricane Irene that brought destruction from North Carolina to New England last week.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal said he was concerned about the serious threat of flash flooding in his state, leading to his emergency action. After devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005, nothing is taken for granted.

Already, the storm has forced two major petroleum producers to remove crews from a handful of production platforms. Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil said they would also cut off a small amount of production. Both moves affect only a fraction of production.

Louisiana's emergency allows Jindal to activate the National Guard if necessary and generally makes it easier for parishes and the state to prepare. It also lets parishes ask the state to repay money spent to prepare and fight floods, and lets the state track such expenses, said Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin.

It was still unclear where the system would head next, but it could bring much-needed relief to drought-plagued Texas.

Small craft warnings were issued from northwest Florida to Texas.

Source: 680news