Terrebonne and Lafourche parish governments have declared a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Nate threatens the Louisiana coast.
Officials asked residents to secure any loose items around their houses and clear ditches and drains to fight flooding.
“We are asking all residents to begin preparations for tropical-storm-force or Category 1-hurricane-strength winds,” the Terrebonne Office of Emergency Preparedness said in a news release this afternoon.
“All preparations should be completed by Saturday afternoon, as the parish could experience tropical-storm-force winds during the early morning hours on Sunday,” the agency said.
Late this afternoon, several forecasters predicted Nate would make landfall Sunday morning in southeast Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane, with sustained winds of 74-95 mph, or Category 2, with winds of 96-110 mph.
Some computer models predicted Nate would make landfall in Terrebonne or Lafourche, though those forecasts can change quickly as the storm wasn’t expected to make it into the Gulf of Mexico until Friday night or early Saturday.
The National Hurricane Center said it was highly likely Terrebonne and Lafourche would begin to see tropical-storm-force winds of at least 39 mph by early Saturday night.
Both parishes issued emergency declarations just after noon today. The action allows parishes to spend emergency money and take other actions to deal with the storm threat.
All public, Catholic and private schools in Terrebonne will be open Friday, along with Fletcher Technical Community College and Nicholls State University.
In Lafourche, public, Catholic and private school students were already scheduled to have the day off while employees undergo training.
At 4 p.m. today, Nate was over eastern Honduras, packing sustained winds of 40 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. Tropical-storm-force winds, 39 mph or greater, stretched up to 50 miles from its center.
Nate was moving north-northwest at 10 mph and was expected to continue in that direction over the next couple of days as it picks up forward speed.
“Nate is forecast to reach the northern Gulf Coast this weekend as a hurricane, and the threat of direct impacts from wind, storm surge, and heavy rainfall is increasing from Louisiana through the Florida Panhandle, the Hurricane Center said in an advisory.
Hurricane and storm surge watches will likely be issued for portions of the northern Gulf Coast tonight or Friday morning, the center said.
The Terrebonne Levee District has closed the following floodgates: Boudreaux Canal, Bayou Terrebonne, Humble Canal, Upper Little Caillou Auxiliary Structure, and Placid Canal.
These floodgates will be closed beginning Friday: Bush Canal, Lower Dularge, Bayou Black, Bayou Grand Caillou and Pointe-aux-Chenes.
The Bayou Little Caillou and Bubba Dove Houma Navigation Canal floodgates are scheduled for closure on Saturday morning.