Tropical Storm Barry tracks northward; What that means for the Arklatex

Clay Curtis
July 14, 2019

Barry strengthened into a category 1 hurricane on Saturday as it neared the Louisiana coast, U.S. meteorologists said - prompting millions of residents of the southern USA state to hunker down for expected major flooding.

The Coast Guard rescued more than a dozen people from the flooded remote island of Isle de Jean Charles, south of New Orleans, where water had risen so high that some residents were clinging to rooftops. As day broke, streets in the normally raucous French Quarter tourist district were largely empty and barely damp.

More than 100,000 households in Louisiana are already without power, according to tracking tool poweroutage.us.

Tropical Storm Barry is growing in strength as it continues to approach the Louisiana coast at 14 miles per hour.

Barry was forecast to continue moving inland through Saturday night, the hurricane center said, and it was expected to weaken further into a tropical depression on Sunday.

The NHC stopped from issuing a tropical storm warning for the area including metropolitan New Orleans, although the warning is still in effect from Morgan City to Cameron.

Barry is expected to cross the coastline southwest of New Orleans on Saturday morning. People used cellphones to see in the dark, and opened doors and windows to let the warm, sticky tropical air circulate.

Though expected to be a weak hurricane, just barely over the 74 miles per hour (119 kph) wind speed threshold, it threatened disastrous flooding across a swath of the Gulf Coast.

NHC Director Ken Graham posted a live video on Facebook early Saturday morning, in which he discussed potential threats from the lumbering storm. "This is just the beginning", he said at a Saturday news conference. "That is off the chart".

Weather experts said this Saturday morning, the storm was upgraded to a hurricane, and residents are now sheltering in place.

Port Fourchon, a seaport on the Gulf of Mexico serving more than 90 per cent of the region's deepwater oil production and acting as a land base for Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), is under a mandatory evacuation order.

Taliban storm hotel building in west Afghanistan
Four members of the Afghan security forces were killed and 20 people wounded, including civilians, the ministry said. Taliban claimed responsibility of the attack and said their attackers are fighting the security forces.

Based on its current track, the storm will likely cause about $800 million to $900 million in damage, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia. And the Mississippi River, which drains most of the water that falls in a vast section of the United States and even parts of Canada, is held in check by tall levees.

"I do want to clear up a little bit of misinformation going around: The overtopping that has occurred in Plaquemines Parish is not the MS levee", Edwards said Saturday in a CNN report. But a levee in Terrebonne Parish was overtopped by water, officials said.

Thousands have packed up and left their homes as floodwaters hit low-lying areas like Plaquemines Parish, where road closures left some communities isolated.

The agency says Barry is still carrying "life-threatening flooding rains" as it moves over Louisiana.

As much as 25 inches (64 centimeters) of rain could fall in some areas, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 1 p.m.in NY. But forecasts showed the storm on a path toward Chicago that would swell the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.

Governors declared emergencies in Louisiana and MS, and authorities closed floodgates and raised water barriers around New Orleans. Heavy rainfall from the storm would be concentrated overnight in a wide area centred around Lafayette, he said. Still, he said he didn't expect the Mississippi River to spill over the levees despite water levels already running abnormally high from heavy spring rains and melting snow upstream. The levees protecting the city range from about 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 metres) in height.

Governor John Bel Edwards said New Orleans was well prepared to withstand the storm, but urged vigilance by residents across the state, as authorities called on people to stay off the streets.

Residents of Mandeville, just north of New Orleans, were also impacted.

"It's moving really slowly", said New Orleans Councilwoman Helena Moreno.

In some places, residents continued to build defenses.

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