Gulf Coast again braces for strike from hurricane

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - NATION - By Janet McConnaugh­ey and Re­becca San­tana Janet McConnaugh­ey and Re­becca San­tana are As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers.

NEW ORLEANS — Hurricane Sally churned to­ward the Louisiana­Mis­sis­sippi coast Mon­day with rapidly strength­en­ing winds of at least 100 mph and the po­ten­tial for as much as 2 feet of rain that could bring se­vere flood­ing.

Storm­weary Gulf Coast res­i­dents rushed to buy bot­tled wa­ter and other sup­plies ahead of the storm, which was on a track to brush by the south­east­ern tip of Louisiana and then blow ashore late Tues­day or early Wed­nes­day near the Mis­sis­sippi­Alabama line for what could be a long, slow and ruinous drench­ing.

It will be the sec­ond Gulf Coast pound­ing from a hurricane in less than three weeks. On Aug. 27, Hurricane Laura blew ashore in south­west­ern Louisiana along the Texas line.

Sally’s slug­gish track could give it more time to drench the Mis­sis­sippi Delta with rain and push storm surge ashore.

Peo­ple in New Orleans watched the storm’s track in­tently. A more east­erly course could bring tor­ren­tial rain and dam­ag­ing winds to Mis­sis­sippi. A more west­erly track would pose an­other test for the low­ly­ing city, where heavy rains have to be pumped out through a cen­tury­old drainage sys­tem.

Even with a push to­ward the east, New Orleans, which is on Lake Pontchar­train, will be in the storm surge area, said Univer­sity of Mi­ami hurricane re­searcher Brian McNoldy. The Na­tional Hurricane Cen­ter fore­cast storm surges of up to 11 feet, in­clud­ing 4 to 6 feet in Lake Pontchar­train.

New Orleans po­lice went on 12­hour shifts, and res­cue boats, bar­ri­cades and backup gen­er­a­tors were read­ied, Po­lice Su­per­in­ten­dent Shaun Ferguson said.

Tony Giberson / Pen­sacola News Jour­nal

A life­guard stand is re­moved from flooded Pen­sacola Beach, Fla., as Hurricane Sally spins offshore in the Gulf of Mex­ico.

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