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Louisiana on alert for storm now hitting Florida

NEW ORLEANS - Emergency officials in Louisiana were on guard Wednesday as a weather system dumping heavy rain on Florida and with the potential to become a tropical storm appeared to be heading toward the state.

As a precaution, Shell Oil Co. said it planned to evacuate about 700 staff deemed not essential to drilling and production in the Gulf of Mexico by the end of the day Wednesday.

The National Weather Service said the low-pressure area could affect southeast Louisiana and south Mississippi Friday night or Saturday and that it would have the potential to become a subtropical or tropical storm. Higher-than-normal tides and coastal flooding were possible Friday into Saturday, the weather service said.

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