NEW ORLEANS -- Forecasters issued tropical storm warnings for a 380-mile stretch of the Gulf Coast Friday morning.
By mid-morning, a subtropical depression was 45 miles southwest of Apalachicola, Fla., but the National Hurricane Center put warnings in effect from Apalachiola to the mouth of the Mississippi River -- including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.
Coastal storm surge flooding of 1 to 2 feet above normal tide levels can be expected in areas of onshore flow.
According to the NHC's advisory, "maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph ... with higher gusts. Some strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours, and the depression could become a subtropical or tropical storm" later Friday.
The depression is moving toward the northwest near 8 mph. A turn to the west-northwest is expected during the next 24 hours.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco declared a precautionary state of emergency, advising parishes to call for the evacuation of residents in low-lying areas and those living in trailers. The governor has school buses, ambulance support, National Guard transportation assets and shelter staff on standby, according to a statement from her office.
Plaquemines Parish President Bill Nungesser said school would be in session Friday for the entire parish. No decisions have been made about evacuations, as the system has yet to organize or strengthen, he said.
"We have deployed flood fighting equipment to those flood-prone areas of our parish, and feel that we are as prepared as possible in the event that this weather system threatens," Nungesser said in a statement.
He and other parish leaders planned to meet again Friday morning.
Emergency managers in St. Bernard Parish said they'll follow the lead of New Orleans when it comes to evacuations.
Residents in Jefferson Parish are being asked to clean out the storm drains, and emergency crews are preparing to open shelters for people living in FEMA trailers. Parish pump stations are working and fully staffed.
If a tropical storm or tornado watch is declared, Kenner has planned two shelters for its residents: One at Woodlake Gym, 121 W. Esplanade Ave., in north Kenner, and another at the Buddy Lawson Gym, 1800 Short St., in south Kenner. No food or refreshments will be provided by the gyms, and alcoholic beverages aren't allowed.
In St. Tammany Parish, officials said they're keeping a close eye on the weather as it develops.