Gustav, Now A Category 3, Still Targeting Louisiana Coast
Local emergency management continue to carefully monitor the progress of Hurricane Gustav as the storm moved into the Gulf of Mexico packing sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.
Gustav, a category 3 storm after raking Cuba’s western coast, continues to target the Louisiana coast with landfall expected late Monday or early Tuesday. It is expected to make landfall as a category 4 storm, bringing a storm surge of up to 20 feet in coastal areas and up to 15 inches of rain.
The National Water Service has issued a hurricane warning for over 500 miles of Gulf Coast, extending from Cameron, La., to the Alabama-Florida state line.
Although forecasters say the precise landfall location remains uncertain within the hurricane warning zone, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation of his city late Saturday night. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley also issued a mandatory evacuation of some vulnerable areas of Mobile and Baldwin counties.
Nagin warned residents who chose to stay would be on their own. He stressed that emergency services would not be able to help once the storm hits.
“For everyone thinking they can ride this storm out, I have news for you: that will be one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your life,” Nagin said.
Louisiana transportation officials have opened contraflow lanes in the New Orleans area to help ease the traffic congestion created by people leaving the Crescent City. Other parts of the suburban New Orleans area, including heavily-populated Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes, have also been ordered evacuated.
Freeways and hotels in the Houston area are reported to be filled with people fleeing the storm.
At 8 a.m. Sunday morning, the National Hurricane Center put Gustav’s center at 375 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm was traveling northwest at 16 miles per hour.