Katia Powers Up; Lee Peters Out
UPDATE (7:55 p.m. PDT):
Hurricane Katia has become a category four hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center, with sustained winds of 135 miles per hour.
Hurricane Katia, the latest storm to make its way across the Atlantic Ocean, was upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane Monday afternoon by the U.S. National Hurricane Center due to its increasing size and wind speed.
Katia now has sustained wind speeds of 115 miles per hour, and could cause storm surges of 9 to 12 feet if landfall was made. The hurricane is predicted to intensify further as Katia moves west across the Atlantic.
Predictions show the storm missing the east coast and the Gulf Coast of the United States, which is already recovering from two storms over the last two weeks, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Hurricane experts say Katia's biggest threat to the eastern seaboard are larger swells created by ocean disturbances.
"Even though these storms may stay offshore, they still can be a deadly threat, especially to people going to the beach," National Hurrricane Center specialist Robbie Berg told Reuters. "It may be a beautiful nice day out and you may just not know that there are rip currents there that can pull you out to sea," he added.
In the Gulf Coast region, residents are still reeling from Tropical Storm Lee, which brought heavy rains and flooding to many areas. Citizens of Lousiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas were left without power and around 60% of all oil production in the Gulf has ground to a halt.
From The Wall Street Journal:
The U.S. government said that about 61.4% of the oil production and 46% of the natural-gas production in the region remained shut in as of Monday. That amounts to about 859,000 barrels of oil per day and 2.44 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. The amount of oil and gas output that remained shut-in Monday was slightly higher than Sunday, when the government said about 60.2% of the oil production and 44.3% of natural gas production remained offline.
Lee also left thousands of people without power in the region. About 6,265 customers in Louisiana, 990 in Mississippi, 1,292 in Texas and 383 in Arkansas were without power as of Sunday evening, according to major utility Entergy Corp. (ETR).
"In an ongoing battle with Tropical Storm Lee, Entergy crews continued restoration work as the storm's heavy squalls and winds slowly moved through Louisiana and Mississippi, and its effects were felt across the utility's four-state service territory," the company said in a press release.
Major Gulf producers such as Chevron Corp. (CVX), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA), Apache Corp. (APA) and BP PLC (BP) said Sunday that extreme weather was putting a break in their efforts to send workers back and restart production. BP said it expected to start sending workers back Tuesday morning to several platforms that have evacuated last week. The oil giant shut productions at Mad Dog, Holstein, Atlantis, Nakika, Thunderhorse, Pompano, Horn Mountain and Marlin.
Tropical Storm Lee has also started violent and deadly storms across Georgia and Mississippi. Tornadoes and lightning ripped through western Georgia killing at least one person and injuring at least one other.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported:
The system was sweeping through Alabama and pushing into Georgia, where the suspected tornadoes sent trees falling into homes and injured at least one person.
Lt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office northwest of Atlanta said he'd gotten scattered reports of homes damaged by falling trees, but couldn't say how many. One person was taken to the hospital after being hit by falling debris, but his injuries were not life-threatening.
In Woodstock, Mickey Swims and his wife hid in their home's basement during the storm.
"I heard it and saw the trees go around and around," Swims said. "I knew when I heard it that if it touched down, it was going to be bad."