A hurricane threat is increasing for the entire Southwest Louisiana region, with residents encouraged to start preparing now for tropical storm-force winds and heavy rainfall.
Roger Erickson, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the exact timing, location, intensity and specific threats are still developing but right now Cameron Parish is a concern.
A hurricane watch is now in place for Cameron, Vermilion, Iberia and St. Mary parishes. The watch may be extended later to Jeff Davis and Allen parishes, Erickson said.
"The projected path shows it moving directly southwest for the next 24-48 hours before shifting to a northwest path and making landfall somewhere in Cameron Parish on Saturday evening," Erickson said. "The immediate concern is the storm surge, the rain, the hurricane-force winds and the isolated tornadoes."
Erickson said the storm surge could be significant along coastal areas, depending on the strength of the storm.
"Rain totals will be between 10 and 15 inches along and to the right of the path, which will result in significant flooding," he said.
Erickson said isolated tornadoes will be a threat starting Friday and throughout the weekend.
He said the low pressure system is "very disorganized" right now off the coast of Florida, but will slowly start to develop in the next day or two.
"More rapid intensification is likely on Friday and Saturday, as the system is making landfall," he said.
Erickson said the earliest reasonable time of arrival for the tropical storm-force winds will be late tonight for parts of south central Louisiana and Friday evening for southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.
The Cameron Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness is advising residents of lower Cameron to take all preliminary precautions and complete their evacuation preparations.
"For residents living in campers as well as those living near waterways, rivers, or areas that flood from above-normal rises in high tide should have a plan to evacuate to a sturdy structure," the office said in a statement to the American Press. "Outside items need to be secured as not to be blown around to cause injury or damage to other structures.
Erickson said lower Cameron Parish could receive as storm surge anywhere between 8-10 feet and upper Cameron, 2-4 feet.
All Cameron Parish schools and facilities will be closed Thursday and Friday and the Calcasieu Parish School Board said it will close its schools and facilities Friday.
On Wednesday, Gov. John Bel Edward declared a state of emergency for Louisiana.
"This is going to be a Louisiana event with coastal flooding and widespread, heavy rainfall potentially impacting every part of the state," Edwards said in a statement to the American Press. "No one should take this storm lightly. As we know all too well in Louisiana, low intensity does not necessarily mean low impact."
Dick Gremillion, Calcasieu Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness director, said there are no plans for a widespread evacuations as of now.
"I would suggest to all residents to be prepared," said Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Kevin White. "We don't what will happen but the storm is coming. "