Look out Gulf of Mexico, here comes Debby! Tropical Storm Debby's winds and rains have caused evacuations that have disrupted oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico this Saturday. Officials in the Florida panhandle and southern Louisiana are issuing warnings for strong winds and flooding.
Debby has already reached sustained winds of 50 mph. Currently she's blowing up a storm about 220 miles south of the mouth of Mississippi, but she's heading north at a rate of 6 mph. She's expected to linger over the northern Gulf for a few days without making landfall, but even offshore she's stirring up a bit of troubleÂ—nine production platforms and one drilling rig evacuated all staff.
This current disruption only accounts for 2% of the national supply as it stands. However, if the storm's strength increases, it may have a severe impact on gas and oil prices by causing more oil rig closures. Here's hoping Debby settles down before that happens. Gas prices are high enough without an increase caused by inclement weather.
There are tropical storm warnings in effect for some areas of the Louisiana coast. Forecasters expect Tropical Storm Debby to bring 6 to 10 inches of rain there, so residents should prepare for some rainy weather ahead. Although Tropical Storm Debby is no Hurricane Katrina, residents are still urged to prepare for the heavy winds and rains, especially in low-lying areas.
For the first time since hurricane tracking began in the 1850s, there have been four recorded tropical storms before July first, Debby included. Hopefully this isn't a sign of a fierce hurricane season to come, or a sign that severe weather overall is on the rise.