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New Orleans Issues Voluntary Evacuation Order For Areas Outside Levee System As Cristobal Nears


The forecast for Tropical Storm Cristobal remains relatively unchanged from 1 p.m. today. The storm, which had slowed to 5 mph earlier in the afternoon, has increased its pace to 7 mph, according to a 4 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The storm is still offshore, south of Grand Isle. All watches and warnings are still in effect, for both storm surge and tropical storm conditions.

Some pockets of metro New Orleans were experiencing power outages as of 4:30 p.m. Sunday. According to Entergy’s outage map, 460 Jefferson Parish customers were without power. There were 190 without power in Orleans Parish, 102 Livingston Parish and 24 in Plaquemines Parish. About 4,300 Entergy customers were without power around 9 a.m. Sunday, according to | The Times-Picayune. 

According to Cleco’s outage map, there were 2,014 Northshore customers without power as of 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

The NHC will issue Cristobal updates at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.


Sunday, June 7, 2 p.m.

As Tropical Storm Cristobal approaches the central Louisiana coast, many parts of the region are already feeling the effects. The storm’s outer bands began dropping rain and surge inundated streets in the lowest-lying and least protected coastal regions.

As of 1 p.m. Sunday, the center of the storm was still offshore, located roughly south of Grand Isle, Louisiana, according to an update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Surge from the storm had already caused street flooding in many places across the Gulf Coast, including in Grand Isle and Venetian Isles, and on Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans along Lake Pontchartrain. Grand Isle is under a mandatory evacuation that went into effect Saturday. The city of New Orleans issued a voluntary evacuation order for areas outside the levee system Sunday afternoon, after Cristobal’s movement slowed to 5 mph.

Credit NOLA Ready
NOLA Ready
A map shows the area of New Orleans under a voluntary evacuation order. June 6, 2020.

A storm surge warning is still in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Borgne. Those areas are expected to see water levels rise 3 to 5 feet. A storm surge warning is also in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River, where surge is expected to be in the 2 to 4 foot range. One to 3 feet of surge is expected from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to Marco Island, Florida.

Heavy rainfall also remains a threat from the storm. Cristobal is expected to drop 4 to 8 inches across the central Gulf Coast and into the Lower Mississippi River Valley, according to the NHC, with some isolated amounts of 12 inches.

According to NOAA doppler radars and data from offshore oil platforms, Cristobal’s maximum sustained winds remain near 50 mph, with some higher gusts.

The center of the storm is expected to move onshore Sunday night or Monday morning, and the NHC does not expect any change in the storm’s intensity before then. The NHC will issue another update about Cristobal at 4 p.m.


Saturday, June 6

Tropical Storm Cristobal is over the open Gulf of Mexico as of Saturday morning, and bands of the storm are beginning to reach the coast.

A National Weather Service bouy measured increasing wind speeds and a maximum wind gust of 43 mph.

The New Orleans area can expect 10 inches of rain when Cristobal reaches us on Sunday.

Friday afternoon, June 5

Cristobal has once again been upgraded to a tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). 

That means it has sustained winds between 39 and 73 mph.

It’s currently still located near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

A mandatory evacuation has been issued for the town of Grand Isle, Louisiana, effective at 6 a.m. Saturday, according to a press release posted to the town’s Facebook page. A mandatory evacuation for “boats and campers” went into effect Friday at noon.

The previously-issued storm surge and tropical storm watches from the NHC remain unchanged regionwide.

Storm surge watches are in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and for Lake Borgne. Also from Indian Pass to Arepika, Florida. A storm surge watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising waters in the next 48 hours.

Tropical storm watches are in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida state line, and for Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas. That means tropical storm conditions are possible in the next 48 hours. Thirty to 40 mph winds are possible in those areas, with occasionally stronger gusts, according to the National Weather Service.

The track of the storm also remains relatively unchanged. It’s still expected to make landfall on the central Louisiana coast as a tropical storm Sunday night or Monday morning, with the potential to drop heavy rain and cause flash flooding across the region. Tropical-storm-force winds will likely arrive earlier than that.

Friday morning, June 5

The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch for much of the Louisiana coast ahead of Cristobal’s arrival.

It’s currently expected to make landfall on the central Louisiana coast Sunday evening as a tropical storm.

A tropical storm watch means life-threatening storm surge is possible within the next 48 hours. The watch extends from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida state line.

There’s also an increasing risk of tropical-storm-force winds in those areas, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its 10 a.m. update. Those winds could hit the Louisiana coast as early as Saturday evening, though they’re more likely to arrive Sunday morning, according to the latest NHC forecast.

Heavy rain remains a threat for the next several days from east Texas to the Florida panhandle, with flash flooding possible through early next week.

Cristobal is still hovering over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where it has already caused “damaging and deadly flooding,” the NHC said. It made landfall there Wednesday as a tropical storm, before being downgraded to a tropical depression.

The tropical system is currently heading back into the Gulf of Mexico, where it’s expected to strengthen back into a tropical storm as early as this evening and continue on a northward track before making landfall in Louisiana on Sunday.


Thursday, June 4

Tropical Storm Cristobal is now Tropical Depression Cristobal.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Cristobal on Thursday morning, but warned it will continue to produce heavy rains and life-threatening flooding.

As of the 10 a.m. update, Cristobal was about 160 miles south-southwest of Campeche, Mexico.

The three-day forecast shows the depression headed straight for Louisiana, likely approaching the coast by 7 a.m. Sunday. If it does continue on this path, it could make landfall in Louisiana by Monday morning.

A flood watch is in effect in southeastern Louisiana and parts of Mississippi through Tuesday.


Wednesday, June 3

Tropical Storm Cristobal has made landfall in southern Mexico.

The storm has brought damaging winds and deadly flooding to Mexico and other areas of Central America, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center. The heaviest additional rainfall is expected over far southern Mexico and portions of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Even though Cristobal has made landfall, tropical storm conditions will continue along and near the coast of Mexico through Thursday.

Cristobal is forecast to re-emerge over the southern Gulf of Mexico on Friday and move north over the central and northern Gulf of Mexico over the weekend. There’s a flood watch in effect for southern Louisiana through Tuesday. The National Weather Service issued a statement saying the storm is capable of producing copious rainfall each day through the weekend and into early next week.

There is a risk of storm surge, heavy rain and strong winds, beginning over the weekend along portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Texas to the Florida Panhandle.


Tuesday, June 2:

The tropical depression the National Hurricane Center (NHS) has been monitoring in the Gulf of Mexican is now a tropical storm by the name of Cristobal.

The NHC upgraded the storm's status Tuesday morning. The maximum winds are estimated to be 40 mph, with higher gusts.

The National Weather Service said it’s still too early to make any predictions about where the storm will go, but the Gulf Coast should prepare for rain. They’ll likely have a more substantial update tomorrow or Thursday, once the storm takes shape.


Monday, June 1:

The disturbance brewing in the Gulf of Mexico is now a tropical depression, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Tropical Depression Three which is comprised of remnants of the season’s first tropical storm, Amanda, is currently situated near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

If it strengthens into a tropical storm or hurricane, it will be named Cristobal. Monday marks the official first day of the 2020 hurricane season.

“Louisiana is still in play”

While the depression is still gathering energy near Mexico, where it goes is still uncertain, said Robert Ricks, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Slidell.

At the moment, weather models suggest the disturbance will meander in the Gulf for a couple more days before possibly heading into the middle of the Gulf of Mexico by Saturday. According to the latest forecast from the NHC, it is still “too soon to specify the location and timing of any potential impacts along the U.S. Gulf Coast” but that those areas should monitor progress throughout the week.

“Due to a great degree of uncertainty, Louisiana is still in play at this point,” Ricks said of the storm’s possible track. He said it likely won’t be until Wednesday that forecasters have a better sense of where the storm is going.

Regardless of where the storm makes landfall, Ricks emphasized, Louisianians should be prepared for many days of possibly heavy rain.

“I guess the main thing is not to focus on the circulation of the storm itself,” Ricks said. “The rain shield is going to be really large on this...We’re talking about many inches of rain, potentially, say from Wednesday through early next week.”

He said the swath of heavy rain could extend as far east as Mobile.

Ricks also emphasized that residents need to get their seasonal hurricane plans in place, because “we could use them early.” Monday marks the official start of the 2020 hurricane season.

Forecasters are expecting an “above average” hurricane season this year, according to an outlook published last month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Historically, there are 12 named storms during hurricane season. According to NOAA, there’s a 60 percent chance the Atlantic will see 13-19 named storms this year.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.
Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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