Evacuations ordered as Sally approaches Louisiana

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Officials are continuing to order evacuations along coastal Louisiana ahead of the anticipated arrival of Tropical Storm Sally, with forecasters warning it would grow into a hurricane capable of striking the U.S. Gulf Coast with high winds and a life-threatening storm surge.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered Sunday morning in Grand Isle, on the East Bank of Plaquemines Parish and on the West Bank from Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery to Venice.

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. Officials also recommended evacuation of Port Fourchon in Lafourche Parish.

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, reaching 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.

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