Friday, August 17

Watch and prepare this weekend, local officials say

Although Hurricane Dean is still far from Southwest Louisiana — and it is too early to know if it will threaten the area — the National Weather Service advises people to carefully watch the progress of the storm this weekend, and be sure to have emergency supplies ready just in case.

Roger Erickson, a meteorologist with the weather service’s local office, says the high-pressure area over the Southeastern states that ushered Tropical Storm Erin into the central Texas coast should persist into next week and may direct Hurricane Dean along the same path.

But he said any weakening of the high-pressure area could allow the storm to strike farther up the coast. “We are not out of the woods yet,” he said.

Dean is now a Category 2 hurricane.

With the storm likely headed for the Gulf, Calcasieu Parish officials said they were monitoring its progress. Any decisions about evacuation would be made early next week.

“We were hopeful a day or two ago that this was going to curve and go up maybe the east coast or Florida, but now it looks pretty certain it will go into the Gulf of Mexico,” Dick Gremillion, director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, told Calcasieu police jurors.

Erickson said Dean is forecast to grow into a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds by the time it hits the Yucatan. A storm of Category 3 or higher is considered a major hurricane.

“It does have potential to be a dangerous hurricane — the same type of hurricane like Katrina, Rita, Wilma,” Gremillion said.

But Erickson said that if the storm hits the Yucatan, the winds could be significantly decreased when it enters the Gulf. He said it was too early to say how big the storm will be when it enters the Gulf.

Even if the hurricane stays on the path toward the lower or central Texas coast, it could still mean minor flooding along the coast of Cameron, Erickson said.

Hurricane Rita was on a similar path in 2005, but the weakening of a high-pressure area covering the region at that time brought the storm right into Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas.
Clifton Hebert, director of the Cameron Parish Office of Homeland Security, said his office would monitor the storm over the next few days.

‘‘It is very important that the community monitor the progress of Dean,’’ he said. ‘‘Everyone should take a close look at their family’s personal evacuation plan and act accordingly.’’

To track the hurricane, go to the National Hurricane Center’s Web site,


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