MIAMI (AP) — Residents of Bermuda were urged to prepare to protect life and property ahead of Hurricane Paulette, which forecasters said would grow into a dangerous storm as it approaches the territory Sunday.
Paulette gained hurricane status late Saturday and was expected to bring storm surge, coastal flooding and high winds to Bermuda over the coming days, according to a U.S. National Hurricane Center advisory.
Paulette had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) that were expected to intensify as the system charted a curved course toward Bermuda, according to the advisory. The biggest threats were strong winds, storm surge, up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain and life-threatening surf and rip currents. The storm early Sunday was 330 miles (535 kilometers) southeast of the territory.
It's the strongest in terms of winds of six disturbances the center was tracking in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
Tropical Storm Sally was inching up from Florida to the Gulf Coast and prompted a hurricane watch from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Florida-Alabama border. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, and officials in the New Orleans area issued a mandatory evacuation order for areas outside of levee protection.
Sally had winds around 45 mph (75 kph) with higher gusts, forecasters said. The tropical storm was expected to strengthen into a hurricane Monday and reach the warning area late Monday and Tuesday.
Storm surge from Sally was forecast to reach dangerous levels, due in part to the tide. Up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) of water was predicted from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Borgne.
A slow moving storm, Sally could produce rain totals up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) by the middle of the week, forecasters said. The system was moving west-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph) early Sunday. It was centered 80 miles (130 kilometers) west-southwest of Port Charlotte, Florida, and 385 miles (620 kilometers) east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Once a tropical storm, Rene was down to depression status by Saturday night. Tropical Depression Twenty was poorly organized in the Atlantic but expected to strengthen during the week, forecasters said.
Two other disturbances — one in the Gulf and another near the Cabo Verde Islands — had low and moderate chances of formation, respectively.