At 10 a.m. CDT today, Lili reportedly was moving northwestward toward southwest Louisiana and was forecast to make landfall between Lake Charles and New Iberia in Louisiana by mid-morning Thursday. Then, it is expected to turn northeastward toward eastern Louisiana, eastern Arkansas and northwest Mississippi.

“It is along and east of this track where I feel the heaviest rainfall will occur,” said Derek Beasley, meteorologist with the Mississippi State University Climate Laboratory at Stoneville. “This area could also experience high winds Thursday and Friday night.”

Reports said the hurricane was already having a negative impact on the U.S. economy, causing at least a 40 percent drop in the region’s natural gas production when crews were forced to evacuate drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico early today.

“The saving grace here will be the fact that the storm will be moving quickly,” said Beasley, who is based at the Delta Research and Extension Center. “However, this poses another threat. It will take a little while for the hurricane to ‘spin down’ or decay to a tropical storm and then a depression.”

What may happen, he said, is that it will be moving inland so rapidly that strong winds could be a problem well inland. "Don’t be surprised if winds on Thursday night and Friday are sustained at 30 mph and gust to near 50 mph near the center of the storm as it tracks inland.”

Forecasters believe this storm is much smaller than Isidore so not as much area may be affected. “But that could change as it makes landfall where the circulation could broaden and affect a wider area,” says Beasley.

He said rainfall amounts could range from 3 to 6 inches over the Delta where fields are still wet from the 4 to 10 inches dumped by the remnants of Tropical Storm Isidore last week. That was on top of the 2 to 3 inches that fell the week before that.

“That first rain soaked right in because we hadn’t received any rain for the previous month,” said Bill Steed, manager with Allendale Planting Co., near Shelby, Miss. “But the ground was still saturated when Isidore came through, and now we’re looking at even more rain from Lili.”

For the latest on Hurricane Lili, click on http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_astorm13.html.

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