Tropical Storm Cristobal has made landfall on the Louisiana coast, bringing 50mph winds and sending dangerous weather as far east as northern Florida, where it spawned a tornado that uprooted trees and brought down power lines.
The storm moved ashore between the mouth of the Mississippi River and the barrier island resort community of Grand Isle, which had been evacuated a day earlier.
Residents of waterside communities outside the New Orleans levee system — bounded by lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne — were urged to evacuate on Sunday afternoon because of their vulnerability to an expected storm surge.
The center of Tropical Storm #Cristobal has made landfall in southeast Louisiana. Hazardous weather conditions will continue to spread inland across portions of the northern Gulf Coast through tonight. Refer to your local weather office for more details at https://t.co/SiZo8ohZMN— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) June 7, 2020
Cristobal packed top sustained winds of 50 miles per hour, but was not expected to reach hurricane strength. Forecasters warned, however, that the storm would affect a wide area stretching roughly 180 miles.
Sen John Kennedy said in a news release that President Donald Trump agreed to issue an emergency declaration for Louisiana as the storm approached the coast. Gov John Bel Edwards had issued a state emergency declaration on Thursday.
In Florida, a tornado — the second in two days in the state as the storm approached — touched down about 3:35pm south of Lake City near Interstate 75, said meteorologist Kirsten Chaney in the weather service’s Jacksonville office. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Rain fell intermittently in New Orleans famed French Quarter on Sunday afternoon, but the streets were nearly deserted, with many businesses already boarded up due to coronavirus.
Forecasters said some parts of Louisiana and Mississippi were in danger of as much as a foot of rain, with storm surges of up to five feet.
“It’s very efficient, very tropical rainfall,” National Hurricane Centre Director Ken Graham said in a Facebook video. “It rains a whole bunch real quick.”
The Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans said the city’s ageing street drainage system had limits, so residents should avoid underpasses and low-lying areas where water can pool during inevitable street flooding.