Tropical Storm Sally in US to strengthen to hurricane, says forecaster

HOUSTON: Louisiana and Mississippi residents were under evacuation orders on Monday as Tropical Storm Sally churned across the Gulf of Mexico and was strengthening to a hurricane, the US National Hurricane Center said.

The second storm in less than a month to threaten the region, Sally is forecast to become a hurricane by late Monday and was headed toward a slow-motion landfall on the US Gulf Coast, with winds of up to 85 miles per hour (137 km/h), the center said. Residents from Louisiana to Florida were told to expect heavy rains and high winds.

Mississippi and Louisiana issued mandatory evacuation orders to residents of low-lying areas, and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards appealed for a federal disaster declaration and advised people living in Sally`s path to flee.

Residents of southwest Louisiana are still clearing debris and tens of thousands of homes are without power after Hurricane Laura left a trail of destruction.

The US Coast Guard was limiting traffic from the port of New Orleans due to the storm and energy companies scrambled to pull workers from offshore oil and gas production platforms.

Chevron Corp, Equinor and Murphy Oil Corp shut in wells as a precaution, and refiner Phillips 66 halted processing at its Alliance refinery on the Louisiana coast. Royal Dutch Shell Plc cut production to minimum rates at its Norco, Louisiana, refinery.

Sally is the fourth storm this year to affect production in the Gulf and the 18th named storm in the Atlantic.

At 7 a.m. CDT, Sally was 115 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, packing winds of 65 miles per hour, according to the NHC.

It warned the storm`s advance would slow in the next two days, dumping 8- to 16-inches (20-40 cm) on the coast and causing widespread river flooding.

Tropical Storm Sally in US to strengthen to hurricane, says forecaster