The hurricane is moving quickly toward a possible landfall late Saturday or early Sunday east of New Orleans.
With 80 miles per hour winds and moving at 22 mph, the Category 1 hurricane is 345 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, in the Southern Gulf of Mexico, according to the latest advisory.
"A hurricane warning is in effect for portions of the northern Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama, and preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion in these areas," the hurricane center said. "Life-threatening storm surge flooding is likely along portions of the northern Gulf Coast."
According to CNN meteorologist Jennifer Varian, the storm is expected to reach land around 1 a.m. with winds at 90 miles per hour.
"Once it hits land it looks like its going to be very quick to move out of the area and then weaken," she said.
Three to 6 inches of rain are likely, with 10 inches possible in some areas, from the central Gulf Coast north through the Deep South, the eastern Tennessee valley and the southern Appalachians into Monday. Flash flooding is possible.
After widespread devastation 12 years ago by Hurricane Katrina, first responders and residents are preparing for flooding in New Orleans, which is expected to be hit by early Sunday.
The city's mayor has ordered a mandatory evacuation for parts of the city after declaring a state of emergency Thursday. A mandatory curfew will also go into effect Saturday at 6 p.m.
Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Louisiana, mobilizing National Guard troops before the storm.
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