Gustav to Hit as Cat 3 Storm by Midday
Hurricane-force winds to strike coastal regions tonight
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2008 6:45 PM CDT
Shelby Leblanc, 7, from Metairie, La., makes a sand castle on the beach in Biloxi, Miss., under the hurricane clouds of Gustav Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008, while Logan Carter plays in the water.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Hurricane Gustav roared through the Gulf of Mexico today and is expected to strike west of New Orleans tomorrow at around noon, Reuters reports. But forecasters expect it to simmer down to a category 3 storm with 125-mph winds and say hurricane-force winds will likely strike the coast tonight. "This is still a very dangerous storm," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said today. "It's not too late to evacuate."

An estimated 1.9 million people have left the state's coastal regions and only about 10,000 have stayed behind. Traffic continued to flow out of the nearly empty city of New Orleans today as traffic snarled freeways outside other coastal cities. About five states are expected to feel the force of Gustav—including Florida, which suffered the storm's first fatality today when strong waves knocked a man off of his boat.