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Tropical Storm Barry develops in the Gulf, threatening more epic flooding in Louisiana

The National Hurricane Center issued hurricane watches for parts of coastal Louisiana, as the first tropical system to slam the US this year is expected to make landfall as a hurricane.

Posted: Jul 11, 2019 11:58 AM


A dangerous cyclone spinning toward the Gulf Coast intensified Thursday to become Tropical Storm Barry.

It's the first tropical storm to threaten the US this year. But before Barry makes landfall -- possibly Saturday in Louisiana -- it'll likely be a full-blown hurricane, meaning winds will top 74 mph.

But it's not the wind that makes this storm so treacherous. It's the colossal rainfall and massive storm surges.

Streets in New Orleans have already turned into lakes after the storm's outer bands pummeled the city with up to 9 inches of rain.

And it'll only get worse.

As of 11 a.m. ET, Barry was hurling sustained winds of 40 mph in the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said.

But because Barry is a slow-moving storm -- crawling across the Gulf at just 5 mph -- the system will hover over the same places for a long time, dropping relentless rain and adding to the widespread flooding.

In Grand Isle, Louisiana, the mayor and town council ordered everyone to evacuate Thursday.

"We are expecting a rain fall total that can range from 6" to 10"," they said in a statement. "We will be experiencing unusual high tides that will range more than 3 feet above ground."

Torrential rain and flooding are the biggest threats

Southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle are under the gun for extreme rainfall Thursday, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said.

And storm surge on the coast could be "life-threatening," the National Hurricane Center said.

The rain and storm surge will cause the Mississippi River to swell to dangerous levels. The Mississippi River could crest at 20 feet in New Orleans, or 1.3 feet below the record. The city is only protected to a height of 20 feet.

In preparation for the onslaught, Louisiana officials have started closing flood gates. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority has about 250 flood gates, spokesman Antwan Harris said.

More than 200 flood gates in New Orleans and St. Bernard parishes are expected to be closed by Friday, local media reported.

New Orleans suffered the wrath of the storm's outer bands Wednesday, when up to 9 inches of rain submerged entire neighborhoods under water.

Resident Dannie P. Davis said she's seen enough and is ready to go. She just doesn't know where yet.

"I am evacuating. The water levels ... were too high for my comfort, and my car nearly flooded," Davis told CNN on Thursday.

"I haven't seen this much rain and flooding before a hurricane in a while. While the evacuation isn't mandatory, I am leaving as a precaution. Who knows what's to come, how and whether the city will able to handle it."

Governors say get ready now

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned "no one should take this storm lightly," as 10 to 15 inches of rain could fall within 24 hours between Friday and Saturday.

He declared a state of emergency and urged residents to have a contingency plan for family and pets.

"This is going to be a Louisiana event with coastal flooding and heavy rainfall potentially impacting every part of the state," Edwards said.

And just because the storm might max out as a Category 1 hurricane doesn't mean it won't be destructive. Hurricane categories only denote maximum sustained wind speeds, not rainfall or other factors.

"As we know all too well in Louisiana, low intensity does not necessarily mean low impact," the governor said.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott told residents to make plans now.

"Begin preparing your property, your supplies, your lines of communication to your family members," Abbott said. "Begin preparing to know exactly where you need to go if you need to evacuate."

This storm could affect gas prices

Even if you live far from the coast, you could still get hit by the storm in terms of gas prices.

The tropical system is swirling near many of the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Offshore oil and gas operations in the Gulf are evacuating their facilities, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.

The companies have evacuated employees from 15 production platforms and four rigs so far. Three of the 20 rigs operating in the Gulf have also moved out of the path of the storm, it said.

Follow the storm here

Unlike drilling rigs, which typically move from location to location, production facilities stay in the same spot throughout a project's duration.

And even days before landfall. US oil rose above $60 a barrel on Wednesday amid worries that the storm system could derail crude production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314509

Reported Deaths: 7247
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21626259
Hinds20359415
Harrison17934309
Rankin13634278
Jackson13447246
Madison10099217
Lee9980174
Jones8381163
Forrest7683152
Lauderdale7191241
Lowndes6401147
Lamar623086
Lafayette6200118
Washington5339134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462798
Panola4588107
Pearl River4512146
Marshall4443103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420772
Monroe4113133
Union411076
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3968110
Hancock379386
Leflore3497125
Sunflower336090
Tate334084
Pike3325105
Scott315973
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311669
Itawamba300477
Copiah297065
Coahoma295479
Simpson295288
Tippah288768
Adams286882
Prentiss279760
Marion269280
Leake268373
Wayne262641
Grenada261487
Covington259681
George248048
Newton246861
Winston227281
Tishomingo226967
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw207857
Holmes189173
Clay185454
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178841
Clarke178080
Calhoun170832
Yalobusha164338
Smith162434
Walthall133945
Greene130633
Lawrence128624
Montgomery126942
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83823
Quitman80916
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67331
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 532895

Reported Deaths: 11001
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson771431528
Mobile41089808
Madison34837505
Tuscaloosa25810454
Montgomery24355588
Shelby23730249
Baldwin21191309
Lee15892171
Calhoun14522316
Morgan14324279
Etowah13861353
Marshall12250223
Houston10581281
Elmore10060205
Limestone9986151
Cullman9705194
St. Clair9702243
Lauderdale9441242
DeKalb8846187
Talladega8255176
Walker7246277
Autauga6938108
Jackson6815112
Blount6694137
Colbert6310134
Coffee5524119
Dale4850111
Russell443238
Chilton4308112
Franklin426282
Covington4136118
Tallapoosa4039152
Escambia393977
Chambers3578123
Dallas3557152
Clarke351161
Marion3130101
Pike311377
Lawrence300798
Winston275673
Bibb261564
Geneva251477
Marengo249664
Pickens234761
Barbour231756
Hale223277
Butler216469
Fayette212562
Henry189044
Cherokee184745
Randolph181742
Monroe178040
Washington167639
Macon159950
Clay156857
Crenshaw152757
Cleburne149141
Lamar142935
Lowndes139053
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110629
Coosa107928
Perry107826
Sumter104832
Greene92534
Choctaw61124
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Skies remain clear as we wrap up the work week, which will lead us into an excellent weekend in terms of weather. Low humidity will keep temperatures cool or chilly in the mornings and much warmer each afternoon. Humidity gradually returns later in the weekend and early next week.
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