Oct 28 (Reuters) - Hurricane Zeta intensified and was poised on Wednesday to strike Louisiana with up to 100 mile-per-hour (161 kph) winds that will reach far inland, the state’s sixth lashing this year from a Gulf Coast storm.
Zeta was about 265 miles (430 km) from the mouth of the Mississippi River early Wednesday, heading north at 17 mph and expected to accelerate before landfall. It could hit the state’s southeast coast later in the day as a category 2 storm on the 5-step Saffir-Simpson scale, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Zeta will crash into the Louisiana coast as a “significant hurricane,” said NHC forecaster Daniel Brown. “Strong winds are likely to spread well inland along the northern Gulf coast this evening and tonight.”
It will bring a storm surge of up to 7 feet (2.13 meters) from Port Fourchon, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River, in Mississippi, the NHC said. Rains of 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) are expected from Gulf Coast to the central Appalachians, the NHC said.
New Orleans halted city and transit services and advised residents living outside the state’s protective levee system to leave for higher ground. Coastal and low-lying communities along the state’s Gulf Coast called for mandatory evacuations.
Oil and gas producers have evacuated 157 offshore production facilities and shut wells producing more than 900,000 barrels of oil and 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Louisiana and Alabama issued state emergency orders and the Trump administration declared an emergency that provides additional federal resources to Louisiana.
Some 1,400 members of the Louisiana National Guard were standing by to help with recovery once the storm passed through, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said.
The state has set up storehouses of food, water and other emergency supplies in 16 parishes. More than 200 floodgates, out of 689, had been closed to prevent flooding.
A Louisiana landfall would make Zeta the fifth named storm to directly strike the state this year after Cristobal, Marco, Laura and Delta. Tropical Storm Beta went ashore over the border in Texas, bringing winds and flooding rains.
Reporting by Erwin Seba and Gary McWilliams; editing by John Stonestreet
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