Officials urged common sense and preparedness ahead of a potential tropical storm that could bring between 3 inches and 12 inches of rain to the New Orleans area Wednesday and Thursday.

The storm is expected to strike western Louisiana or eastern Texas Wednesday or Thursday but even though New Orleans is not in its direct path, officials said rain and possible storm surge could cause problems and street flooding in the city.

“This event is deceptive because we’re outside the cone, but it could still have a significant impact,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a press conference with other officials Tuesday morning.

The city is staffing its Emergency Operations Center and preparing to staff it round-the-clock in the coming day. Sewerage and Water Board is staffing its pump stations, which can move 1 inch of water in the first hour of a storm and a half-inch every hour after that.

But the severity of the rain predicted may exceed those capacities, leading to street flooding. And coastal flooding is expected in some areas outside the levee system such as Lake Catherine and Venetian Isles.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison urged residents not to drive through standing water, which can often be deeper and more dangerous than it appears, and to stay off the roads during the storm because of low visibility.

NOPD will also ticket motorists driving more than 5 mph on roads with standing water. Driving fast in those conditions can push water off the road and potentially into yards and homes.

Ken Graham, with the National Weather Service, said its important that residents not be lulled into complacency just because New Orleans is not within the cone where forecasters predict the storm will strike. Even on its current track, the storm will bring significant rain to the area and even slight shifts in its path can lead to dramatic changes in conditions in the city, Graham said.

Several city officials urged common sense, including watching or listening to reports about the storm’s progress and preparing a kit with basic supplies.

“If we do what we all know how to do, we’ll be ok,” Councilman James Gray said.

Because of the storm, Landrieu is calling off his State of the City Address, which was scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.​