By Greg Hilburn, USA Today Network
Louisiana isn't in Hurricane Harvey's crosshairs now, but Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state should prepare for heavy rains and possible flash floods beginning Sunday.
"Prepare and pray not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors in Texas," Edwards said during a press conference Thursday,
The governor has issued a statewide emergency declaration in preparation.
Corpus Christie, Texas, is expected to take a direct hit from what will likely strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane that could drop 20 inches or more of rain on the central Texas coast.
In the meantime, Edwards said southwestern Louisiana could be soaked by 7 or more inches of rain. "Southwestern Louisiana is our greatest concern," he said. "It's our focal point."
USA Today Network contributing meteorologist Don Wheeler agreed, saying Acadiana can expect 5 to 8 inches of rain, while northern Louisiana could see 3 to 6 inches.
"Harvey is going to stall out in Texas with copious amounts of rain there before moving toward Louisiana early next week," Wheeler said.
Edwards said there is a slight possibility Harvey could make landfall in Texas, bounce back into the Gulf and move toward Louisiana, which would place the state in greater peril.
"That's not something forecast now, but it's something the weather service is telling us is a possibility," he said.
That scenario would put New Orleans in harm's way with diminished pump capacity that created widespread flooding earlier this month.
"We recognize the vulnerabilities in New Orleans," Edwards said, saying pump capacity won't approach full strength until Sept. 4 or Sept. 5. "But nothing in the current forecast should cause additional concern in respect to New Orleans," he said.
The governor said various emergency preparedness agencies are staging sandbag centers and pre-positioning boats and high water vehicles to deploy if needed.
"We anticipate at some point over the next several days that there will be road closures," Edwards said. "I'm encouraging everyone not to drive through high water."
He said Louisianans can't let down their guard.
"Be diligent for an extended period of time," Edwards said. "It may not be until late Sunday, Monday or Tuesday before the maximum impact on Louisiana."