LAKE CHARLES, La. — Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall Thursday in southwestern Louisiana, bringing heavy rain and powerful winds to the already soaked US Gulf Coast.
The center of the storm hit just south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, the National Weather Center’s Hurricane Center said.
Heavy downpours are expected Thursday in East Texas, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. More than 6 million people remain under tornado watches, which cover New Orleans and points north into central Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
As the storm moves northwest, the Gulf Coast will continue to experience potentially dangerous flooding and winds of 40 to 50 mph, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.
Cindy is expected to produce 3 to 6 inches of rain, with as much as 12 inches in some places, through Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.
Cindy is expected to weaken Thursday into a tropical depression.
“The storm is expected to move up into Louisiana Thursday where it will be absorbed by an approaching cold front moving in from the Plains,” Guy said.
Over the coming days, the cold front will push the remnants of the storm east and will help dump more rain over the Tennessee and Mississippi Valley.
Boy killed along Alabama coast
The storm has put millions of residents under high alert of “life-threatening flash flooding” since Tuesday and already has claimed at least one life.
A 10-year-old boy from Missouri died Wednesday after he was struck by a log outside a beachfront condo in Fort Morgan, Alabama, the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office said.
“The boy’s father was outside but several feet away attending other children and noticed a huge wave was coming ashore heading toward the log and his son,” said Captain S.K. Arthur in a news release. “The wave hit the log knocking the log into and over his son.”
Parts of southern Alabama, southern Mississippi, southeastern Louisiana and western portions of the Florida Panhandle already have seen streets covered in up to 3 feet of water.
Cindy is the second tropical storm to form during the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1. It’s the third storm of the season, which got an early start with Tropical Storm Arlene in April.
State offices in five regions of Louisiana remained closed Thursday. Parts of the state saw severe flooding Wednesday, when water rose to 3 feet high in some neighborhoods, covering some mailboxes, CNN affiliate WDSU reported.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency to “guarantee state resources are on standby and are ready to assist impacted communities if necessary.”
“There’s been a lot of rain in the area over the last three to four weeks, so the ground is pretty saturated,” said Glen Brannan of Alabama’s Mobile County Emergency Management Agency.
In Mississippi, the city of Biloxi declared a state of emergency because of the flood risk. Residents in nearby counties were offered sandbags.
“It’s kind of like a slow-motion disaster for us now,” said Greg Flynn with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. “It’s not wind, it’s rain we’re concerned about.”