BATON ROUGE, La. — As Hurricane Delta sets its sights on Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards provided an update Thursday on the state's actions so far to prepare for the storm.
Edwards said that he spoke with President Donald Trump on Thursday who indicated that he would soon approve of Louisiana's request for a federal emergency disaster declaration.
Edwards said that Delta is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in Louisiana sometime Friday afternoon. He said that weather conditions will begin to deteriorate rapidly by Friday morning.
He urged residents across the state to make sure they are prepared ahead of time and are in the area that they want to ride out the storm by Thursday night.
Edwards said that while the storm's track has shifted West, most of the Louisiana coast remains in the cone. He said residents should not become too fixated on the centerline of the track because about one third of storms make landfall outside of the cone.
He said that Delta is forecast to remain a hurricane as far North as Central Louisiana and event parts of North Louisiana.
He said they don't expect the storm to be downgraded to a tropical storm until after it leaves the state.
Ben Shot with the National Weather Service in New Orleans said that as Delta is expected to make landfall on Friday the window for making preparations is going to be closing by the end of the day on Thursday.
He said that while there is some uncertainty with regard to the storm track, NWS is still expecting the storm to procude life-threatening storm surge, widespread damaging winds and heavy rainfall and the potential for both flash flooding and river flooding.
He said that Delta is currently a Category 2 hurricane as it has moved over land in the last 12-24 hours, but that it is now moving back into the Gulf of Mexico where it is expected to regain more strength.
Shot said that the storm appears to be on a Northwest track as it continues into the central gulf later this afternoon, before turning more Northward late in the week.
He said to expect sustained tropical force winds that could arrive at the Louisiana coast as early as Thursday evening.
Shot said that while there is still minor uncertainty about specific impacts, the key will be how strong Delta becomes in the next 36 hours when it starts to turn north tomorrow and Northeast on Friday.
He said that the NWS is confident Delta will bring impacts to the coastal area, but they are slightly less confident in the exact magnitude of the impacts.
He said that Detla is going to be a fast moving storm and some residents may only see impact of 12-15 hours before it works its way through the state. However, he said that there will be a 6-12 hour period that could be very bad for those in impacted areas.
Shot said that no one is going to notice a difference between 110 mph and 100 mph, so there won't be much of a noticable difference between a Category 2 or Category 3 storm.
The governor said that there is no plan for a statewide mandatory evacuation order, but voluntary evacuations have been issued in Acadia, Assumption, Beauregard, Calcaseiu, Lafayette, Lafourche, St. Martin, St. Mary, Jefferson Parish at Grand Isle, Cameron, Iberia, Jeff Davis and Vermilion Parishes.
Edwards said that state offices will be closed statewide on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and they will assess over the weekend about whether state offices should reopen on Monday.
He said that the Department of Corrections is now coordinating the evacuations of prisoners in South Louisiana and impacted areas to move them to prisons in the North.
Edwards said that the Louisiana National Guard has deployed 1,300 guardsman ahead of the storm to help with preparations and expected recovery efforts.
He said that about 7,500 utility crew members will be propositioned ahead of the storm in impacted areas across the state to help with power restoration efforts, while an additional 3,500 are ready to be called in if they are needed.
Edwards said that there is no COVID-19 regulation that would prevent contractors, utility crews, or insurance agents from coming into Louisiana from out of state as rumors on social media suggested in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.
For a look at the current weather conditions and what to expect from Delta, click here.
For resources ahead of the storm, click here.
A livestream of Thursday's briefing can be viewed below:
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