Tropical Storm Lee's outer bands pelt Gulf Coast

September 3, 2011
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A hotel is reflected in puddles of rain from approaching Tropical Storm Lee at a streetcar track, as a streetcar passes through Lee Circle, in New Orleans, Friday, Sept. 2, 2011. Lee formed in the waters off Louisiana on Friday, threatening a drenching along much of the Gulf coast over the Labor Day weekend with up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain in some spots. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tropical Storm Lee has strengthened as it begins dumping rain in southern Louisiana and pelting the northern Gulf coast.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say that Lee's maximum sustained winds had increased to 60 miles per hour (95 kph) Saturday morning.

The storm's center is located about 45 miles southwest of New Iberia and was moving north-northwest at 7 mph (11 kph).

The storm is expected to make landfall on the central Louisiana coast late Saturday and turn east toward New Orleans. It could provide the biggest test of rebuilt levees since Hurricane Gustav struck on Labor Day 2008.