Tropical Storm Sally strengthened off the west coast of Florida on Sunday and was poised to become a hurricane the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said on Sunday September 13th, noting that there was a danger of storm surges and high winds on the US Gulf Coast,
The storm track had already caused disruption to oil production in the US Gulf of Mexico, for a second time in less than a month. NHC said that the storm was likely to attain hurricane strength on Monday, and that it would approach the north-central Gulf Coast late on Monday or early on Tuesday.
Hurricane conditions were expected to hit Grand Isle, Louisiana across to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including New Orleans. Grand Isle, Louisiana went from voluntary to mandatory evacuation on Sunday.
Sally carried the danger of storm surges of up to 11ft and rainfall of up to a foot, NHC said.
Chevron Corp and Murphy Oil Corp had evacuated offshore production platforms, while Chevron was preparing to halt output at two, according to reports. Chevron said its Pascagoula, Mississippi, refinery was following storm preparedness procedures.
Offshore oil producers Hess, BP, BHP and Occidental Petroleum said they were currently monitoring the storm.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Paulette was moving closer to Bermuda and was expected to move near or over the island on Monday morning, the NHC said.