MIAMI (AP) — Residents of Bermuda were urged to prepare to protect life and property ahead of Hurricane Paulette, which was forecast to become a dangerous hurricane Sunday as Tropical Storm Sally intensified in the Gulf of Mexico.
Paulette gained hurricane status late Saturday and was expected to bring storm surge, coastal flooding and high winds to Bermuda, according to a U.S. National Hurricane Center advisory.
Paulette had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph) as the system strengthened along a curved course toward Bermuda, forecasters said. The biggest threats were strong winds, storm surge, up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain and life-threatening surf and rip currents. The storm was 280 miles (390 kilometers) southeast of the territory Sunday morning.
It’s the strongest in terms of winds of six disturbances the center was tracking in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
A hurricane warning for Sally was issued Sunday morning from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and included metropolitan New Orleans. A storm surge warning and a tropical storm warning were also in effect for parts of the Gulf Coast.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Saturday, and officials in the New Orleans area issued a mandatory evacuation order for areas outside of levee protection.
The tropical storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph) with higher gusts, forecasters said. Sally was expected to strengthen into a hurricane Monday and reach the coast late Monday and Tuesday.
Storm surge from Sally was forecast to reach dangerous levels, due in part to the tide. Up to 11 feet (3.4 meters) of water was predicted from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Borgne.
A slow moving storm, Sally could produce rain totals up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) by the middle of the week, forecasters said. The system was moving west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph) early Sunday. It was centered 155 miles (250 kilometers) west of Port Charlotte, Florida, and 300 miles (485 kilometers) east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Heavy rain was battering the southwest coast of Florida, the Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. advisory.
Once a tropical storm, Rene was forecast to become a remnant low Monday. Tropical Depression Twenty was expected to strengthen this week and become a tropical storm by Tuesday, forecasters said.
A low pressure system near the Cabo Verde Islands had a high chance of formation, while a disturbance in the Gulf had a low chance of formation.