(FreightWaves meteorologist Nick Austin contributed to this report).
The container terminal in the port of New Orleans remains open as Tropical Depression Cristobal nears landfall Sunday evening.
However, the Coast Guard is restricting traffic inbound and outbound from the port to the Gulf of Mexico. The port is under condition Zulu, which is defined as occurring when “weather advisories indicate that sustained gale force winds (39-54 mph/34-47 knots) from a tropical or hurricane force storm are predicted to make landfall at the port within 12 hours.”
The port, in its midday update, said it was was “closely monitoring the path and potential impacts” of Cristobal. But it added that there were no planned terminal closures at the container terminal for New Orleans.
“Operators have made the necessary safety preparations and are closely monitoring the storm,” the port said in its statement. It did say that some vessel schedules will be impacted by Cristobal.
There also are closures to ship movements on the Lower Mississippi River between mile marker 20 to mile marker 303, the Coast Guard said.
There are no reports of any of the New Orleans area’s more than 10 oil refineries being closed, so no impact on diesel supplies would be anticipated.
Cristobal is inching toward landfall, sitting just 30 miles south of the central Louisiana coast as of 2 p.m EDT today. Maximum sustained winds near Cristobal’s center remain near 50 mph, with higher gusts. On the current forecast track, the center of Cristobal will continue moving toward the northern Gulf of Mexico late this afternoon, then move inland across Louisiana tonight through Monday morning, June 8, followed by Arkansas and Missouri Monday afternoon into Tuesday.
Tropical-storm-force winds (39 to 73 mph) extend up to 205 miles from the storm, mainly to the east of the center. Earlier today, an oil rig located about 80 miles south of Mobile, Alabama measured a sustained wind of 58 mph and a gust of 64 mph at an elevation of 53 feet above sea level. A Weatherflow site at Ship Island, Mississippi reported a sustained wind of 45 mph and a gust of 59 mph.
The main issue with Cristobal will be flooding due to heavy rainfall, as well as storm surge that may reach 4 or 5 feet from Morgan City, Louisiana to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, especially if peak surge occurs during high tide. Citizens and public works officials have been getting ready for Cristobal for a few days, piling sandbags and clearing clogged storm drains in order to mitigate the flooding as much as possible. However, scattered power outages and roadblocks may occur due to downed tree limbs and utility lines.