Tropical Storm Lee is predicted to make landfall on the southern coast of Louisiana on Saturday afternoon and could bring up to 20 inches of rain to the New Orleans area.

New Orleans could receive 15 to 20 inches of rain in the city and surrounding area, which has prompted officials to declare a state of emergency in advance of the storm’s arrival. Residents are being warned of heavy rain and possible flooding and some flood gates have been closed.

The National Weather Service has issued tropical storm warnings from Pascagoula, Miss. to Sabine Pass, Texas. Craig Taffaro, president of St. Bernard Parish on the Louisiana coast, said in a press statement that he was not expecting a major event.

“We’d like the public to use this as a drill. Hopefully that’s all it will be,” Taffaro said Thursday afternoon.

Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center, said the forecasting service is “calling for extensive flooding, rainfall amounts of two to three inches per hour. That’s a lot of rain.”

“This could be a very heavy, prolific rain-maker,” National Weather Service meteorologist Frank Revitte said. “Generally, we’re thinking 10 to 15 inches over the next three to five days. There could be some isolated amounts near 20 inches by the time it’s all over with.”

Over in the Atlantic, everyone on the East Coast is keeping a close eye on Hurrican Katia, which has strengthened to 75 mph winds. Katia is not expected to threaten land for at least five days. The National Hurricane Center believes Katia could reach Category 3 status by Wednesday.

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