US Louisiana declares emergency ahead of possible hurricane

Author: Lane Kelley


HOUSTON (ICIS)--Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency because of the low-pressure system bearing down on the US state from the Gulf of Mexico.

"This is going to be a Louisiana event with coastal flooding and widespread, heavy rainfall potentially impacting every part of the state,” Edwards said in a statement.

The system will likely produce storm surge, hurricane-force winds and up to 15 inches (38 cm) of rain across the state, Edwards said.

“No one should take this storm lightly,” Edwards added. “As we know all too well in Louisiana, low intensity does not necessarily mean low impact.”

At 1300 local time (1800 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said the system was about 155 miles (249 km) east-southeast from the mouth of the Mississippi River, with sustained winds at 30 miles/hour.

New Orleans City Hall closed on Wednesday due to severe weather across the metro area. During the morning rush hour from 600-900, 5.56 inches fell in downtown New Orleans, according to a metro weather report.

The following  NHC map shows the storm targeted for southwestern Louisiana, with rain inundating the Houston and east Texas region on the weekend.

The NHC advised interests in the nation’s petrochemical hub along the upper Texas coast and Louisiana to closely monitor the storm’s progress, adding that the disturbance could produce heavy rainfall from Texas to northwest Florida.

Crude prices jumped $2.60/bbl for the benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) on Wednesday partly because of the threat to US Gulf offshore oil installations from the tropical weather. WTI closed at $60.43/bbl.

Strengthening of the system is forecast during the next 72 hours, with the disturbance expected to become a tropical depression Thursday morning, a tropical storm Thursday night and a hurricane on Friday, according to the NHC.

Offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf began evacuating platforms and rigs in response to the tropical weather.

Data collected by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Hurricane Response Team from offshore operator reports submitted on Wednesday shows that personnel have been evacuated from 15 production platforms, or about 2% of the 669 manned platforms in the Gulf.

Total Percentage
of Gulf of Mexico
 15  2.24%
 4  19.05%
DP Rigs
 3 15%
Total shut-in Percentage of GOM Production
 602,715 (BOPD)  31.89%
496.2 (MMCFD)  17.85%

This survey information is reflective of 17 companies’ reports as of about 1200.

The US Gulf Coast hurricane season began on 1 June, although this system is the first to prompt major mobilisation at offshore assets.

As of 1300, the US Coast Guard Captain of the Port in Port Arthur, Texas set port condition X-RAY - the term for tropical force winds expected within 48 hours - for the ports of Port Arthur, Beaumont, Orange and Sabine, Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana, including all tributaries and waterways.

Vessels bound for these ports that are unable to depart prior to the closing of the port are advised to seek an alternate destination.

The Captain of the Port of Mobile, Alabama on Wednesday ordered Port Status WHISKEY - the term for gale force winds expected within 72 hours - for the ports of Mobile, Pascagoula and Gulfport, Mississippi and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from MM133 westward.

Click here for the Louisiana state of emergency proclamation.