Posted by Rachel Leigh email
(CNN) - Tropical Storm Edouard made landfall Tuesday morning in a wildlife refuge on the upper Texas coast.
Update, TUE 9 AM: The National Hurricane Center said the storm's center reached land in the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge about halfway between High Island and Sabine Pass on the border with Louisiana.
In its 8 a.m. ET advisory, the center said Edouard's maximum sustained winds were 65 mph, with higher gusts.
The storm is expected to weaken as it moves inland, the advisory said.
The tropical storm -- the fifth one this season -- was moving to the west-northwest at nearly 14 mph, the center said. Tropical storm-force winds extended up to 70 miles from the center.
A tropical storm warning was in effect from Grande Isle, Louisiana, to Sargent, Texas. The warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected in the warning area within 24 hours.
A hurricane watch, which means hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours, was in effect from west of Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to Sargent, Texas.
The U.S. Census Bureau on Monday said the storm could affect more than 5.4 million people.
Edouard, which started Sunday as a depression in the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to dump up to 5 inches of rain along parts of the Louisiana and Texas coast, and "maximum amounts of 10 inches are possible over southeastern Texas," the hurricane center advisory said.
A storm surge of 2 to 4 feet above normal tides was expected, and isolated tornadoes were possible in the area, the center said.
As the storm approached, Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said the city has activated its emergency management center.
The Gulf Coast city's Web site warned residents to create an evacuation plan in case they have to flee the storm.
Thomas said Galveston City Hall will be closed Tuesday for the storm, but emergency workers would be working and ready.
Authorities in Houston, about 50 miles north of Galveston, also said they were prepared for the storm.
"Everything is in place," said Ed Emmett, director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in Harris County, which encompasses Houston.
Emmett said 200 buses, 19 ambulances, numerous shelters and helicopters were ready in case there is need for the evacuation of homes or hospitals.
Update, MON 2:45 PM: Tropical Storm Edouard is not expected to make landfall in Texas until Tuesday morning, but forecasters warned the storm could spawn tornadoes as soon as Monday evening.
Forecasters expanded warnings early Monday along the Gulf Coast in Texas as Edouard picked up speed.
A tropical storm warning was in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River, just south of New Orleans, Louisiana, to Port O'Connor, Texas.
A warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area within 24 hours.
A hurricane watch, which means hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours, was in effect from west of Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to Port O'Connor.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said in its 11 a.m. ET advisory, "Isolated tornadoes are possible over portions of southern Louisiana and the upper Texas coast later today and tonight."
Despite the threat of inclement weather, Edouard seemed to be causing few problems in the Gulf of Mexico, where employees on thousands of oil rigs and platforms produce and search for oil.
The price of oil dropped $4 a barrel in early trading Monday, and Tom Orr, head of research for Weeden & Co., an investment research firm, said the storm wasn't expected to cause many problems.
"That's going to be a nonevent," Orr said of Edouard. "It's moving away from oil-producing facilities."
Some companies reported minor disruptions and small-scale evacuations, but others said Edouard posed no threat to their workers, some of whom are more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) offshore.
ConocoPhillips said Edouard is not disrupting its exploration or production activities. Shell Oil reported that it had evacuated about 40 personnel from its operations in the western Gulf, but the company didn't expect any impact to its production activities.
Rowan Cos., a drilling outfit with nine rigs in the Gulf, left most of its workers in place, except on its rig about 30 miles (48 kilometers) off the coast of Galveston, Texas. Employees also were preparing for flooding at a company shipyard in the Sabine Pass, on the Texas-Louisiana border.
Rowan spokesman Bill Provine said Monday morning that one of its rigs was in Edouard's eye and employees were reporting winds of about 35 mph (22 kph).
"They're probably shooting pool or probably eating," Provine said of the rig workers. "It's not a big deal."
Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. also expects to evacuate a rig outside Galveston, said Senior Vice President Gary Krenek.
Richard LeBlanc, spokesman for ENSCO International Inc., said the storm formed too quickly to evacuate workers but said oil rigs in the Gulf were designed to withstand tropical storms.
"We've certainly ridden out much tougher storms than this," he said.
Edouard's center could be "very near the upper Texas coast or the coast of southwestern Louisiana by Tuesday morning," according to the hurricane advisory.
"Edouard could be nearing hurricane strength before reaching the coastline," it said.
The storm started as a depression Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico.
At 11 a.m. ET, the center of the tropical storm -- the fifth one this season -- was about 160 miles (260 kilometers) southeast of Lafayette, Louisiana, and about 265 miles (425 kilometers) east-southeast of Galveston, the hurricane center said.
The storm was moving west at nearly 8 mph (13 kph), while its maximum sustained winds were near 45 mph (75 kph), with higher gusts, the hurricane center said.
Tropical storm-force winds extend up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the center.
Edouard is expected to dump up to 5 inches of rain along the Louisiana coast, and "maximum amounts of 10 inches are possible over southeastern Texas," the hurricane center said.
Previously: Forecasters expanded warnings along the Texas Gulf coast early Monday as Tropical Storm Edouard picked up speed.
Edoudard was on track to drop rain in southern Louisiana before reaching Texas' coast, forecasters said.
A tropical storm warning is in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River westward to San Luis Pass, Texas. The warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area in the next 24 hours.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami expects Edouard, which started as a depression in the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday afternoon, to reach coastal Galveston, Texas, by Tuesday morning. Edouard will likely reach near-hurricane strength before landfall, the hurricane center said.
A hurricane watch -- which means hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours -- was issued, reaching from west of Intracoastal City, Louisiana to Port O'Connor, Texas.
At 5 a.m. ET, the center of the tropical storm -- the fifth one this season -- was located about 185 miles (300 km) southeast of Lafayette, Louisiana and about 295 miles (475 km) east-southeast of Galveston, the hurricane center said.
The storm was moving west at about 9 mph (15 km/hr), while its maximum sustained winds neared 50 mph (85 km/hr), the hurricane center said.