Tropical Storm Lee: Spinoff Tornadoes Reported

PHOTO: Ernie Adams paddles his pirogue to his house after visiting his neighbors house in floodwaters from Bayou Barataria, in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Lee in the town of Jean Lafitte, La., just outside New Orleans, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011.
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Tropical Storm Lee made landfall today, bringing with it heavy winds, rains, and even spinoff tornadoes.

The large, slow-moving storm is drifting over wide swaths south-central Louisiana, according to National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen, soaking the South and creating twisters that could cause damage.

"When a tropical storm makes landfall, it's common for it to form spinoff tornadoes. In this case, the threat of twisters is from Louisiana to Mississippi, Georgia and Florida, adding insult to injury," Feltgen said.

The storm has also generated mandated evacuations in Louisiana bayou towns, and caused thousands of customers to lose power in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Lee has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, with even stronger gusts. Feltgen says total rain accumulation through Monday night will likely be 10 – 15 inches, with up to 20 inches in some places.

"Because the storm is so slow moving and isn't expected to weaken to a tropical depression for another 24 hours," Feltgen said, "the biggest danger is flash flooding caused by heavy rainfall."

The potential for damaging floods grows as the storm moves north toward the Appalachian Mountains, where rainfall is expected to be between 4 and 8 inches, with some areas seeing up to ten inches by Tuesday.

"The threat of flooding will likely be more serious once the storm reaches the mountains," Feltgen said, noting that heavy rainfall in the mountains can result in flash floods as the water rushes down into valleys.

Low lying coastal areas were victim to flooding, making some roads so difficult, that the only way to navigate them is by paddling.

Jean Lafitte, La. resident Mike Lavelle's home has been turned into an island, surrounded by water.

"I knew this was going to happen sooner or later. I was hoping it didn't happen but it has happened," Lavelle said.

For Lavelle and so many who weathered Hurricane Katrina just six years ago, all of this, is all too familiar.

Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner is hoping sandbag barriers will save his small town in southeast Louisiana.

Tropical Storm Lee may come and go, but Kerner's not going anywhere.

"If they made everybody leave, I'd buy a house boat and stay here," Kerner said. "I mean I love this area and it's worth fighting for. We're down right now, but this community's not giving up."

Down the street, Jean Lafitte resident Laura Melancon is paddling her way home.

"We're like stuck with our cars and we can't really move around a lot," Melancon said.

With the center now on shore, West End resident Phillip Boudreaux said he isn't optimistic that the bad weather will stop anytime soon.

"I don't think it's over yet. I think it's going to get worse before it gets better," Boudreaux said.

Throughout the region, people spent the holiday weekend working overtime to protect their homes.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told residents to remain vigilant.

"We're not out of the woods. Don't go to sleep on this storm," Landrieu said, the Associated Press reported.

Tropical Storm Lee's heavy rains still pose the threat of more extensive flooding or flash flooding to the Gulf Coast.

"Some chance that the rain will persist today and tomorrow and add to the totals which have already fallen and then the storm is expected to lose tropical characteristics and become post tropical," said Kimberlin.

ABC News Radio and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

"We're not out of the woods. Don't go to sleep on this storm," Landrieu said, the Associated Press reported.

Tropical Storm Lee's heavy rains still pose the threat of more extensive flooding or flash flooding to the Gulf Coast.

"Some chance that the rain will persist today and tomorrow and add to the totals which have already fallen and then the storm is expected to lose tropical characteristics and become post tropical," said Kimberlin.

ABC News Radio and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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