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Hurricane Danny skims Louisiana tip, moves northeast

Scenes from the hurricaner

Storm churns along Gulf Coast

July 18, 1997
Web posted at: 2:11 p.m. EDT (1811 GMT)

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CENTRAL GULF COAST (CNN) -- Tropical Storm Danny strengthened to a hurricane early Friday as it swept across Louisiana's southeastern tip and moved slowly to the northeast, threatening to bring high winds and heavy downpours to Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

A hurricane warning was posted from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Destin, Florida.

Danny was a minimal hurricane, reaching top sustained winds of 75 mph as of 3 a.m. EDT. But the storm could bring 10 to 20 inches of rain to the Gulf Coast, CNN Senior Meteorologist Valerie Voss reported.

Frankie Douggan, the civil defense director in Biloxi, Mississippi, said his coastal city was told to expect 4- to 5-foot seas accompanied by winds of 40 to 50 miles an hour with gusts blowing even harder.

"If we manage that, we'll be in pretty good shape," he told CNN in a live interview Friday morning. But Douggan said the slow movement of the hurricane could pose a greater danger. "It's hard to tell what course it will take or how much strength it may build before it moves ashore."

Hurricane Danny
Time2 p.m. EDT
Location90 mi. SW of Mobile, AL.
Lat./Lon.29.6 N latitude,
89.1 W longitude
Windsnear 75 mph (120 kph)
Speedstationary 0 mph (.0 kph)
Current radar image                 Current satellite image

Grand Isle, La., evacuates

The storm, traveling northeast at about 6 mph, sloshed through the sparsely populated Louisiana marshlands and moved back into the Gulf of Mexico early Friday morning.

Hurricane Danny
Progress of Hurricane Danny, 3 A.M. to 7:30 A.M. EDT


Danny had sustained winds of 60 mph when it moved ashore late Thursday after languishing most of the day off the Louisiana coast, meteorologists said.

There were no reports of damage, although there was moderate flooding in some areas.

At Grand Isle, 60 miles south of New Orleans, long lines of cars formed on Louisiana Highway 1 as the area's 1,500 residents evacuated ahead of Danny.

Officials said the highway -- the only way off the island -- would be flooded by a 5-foot storm surge.

"The main reason I ordered everybody out is because we got plenty tourists on the island and I don't want nobody stuck here," said Grand Isle Mayor Arthur Bellanger.

'Big Easy' breathes easy

Evacuations were also ordered in parts of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes (counties) southwest of New Orleans, but people in some areas began returning to their homes Thursday night as the storm went east.

In low-lying St. Bernard Parish, southeast of New Orleans, officials handed out sandbags to seal off flood-prone roads and recommended that residents leave.

CNN's Charles Zewe talks with Frankie Douggan, civil defense director for Biloxi, Mississippi, about the storm.
icon (12 sec./128K AIFF or WAV sound)

"If we get an east or northeast wind, it could really push some water into parts of the parish outside of the hurricane protection levees," said Mike Sanders, spokesman for the St. Bernard Parish sheriff's department.

In New Orleans, late-night revelers on Bourbon Street barely broke stride as light rains and intermittent gusts swept the historic French Quarter.

Even though officials had feared flooding in the city, which is below sea level, Danny hit the Big Easy with a weak punch.

Mayor Marc Morial said city offices would open Friday, as usual.

Senior Meteorologist Valerie Voss, Correspondent Charles Zewe and Reuters contributed to this report.

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