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: 503322

Reported Deaths: 10057
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34400541
DeSoto32318411
Hinds32074631
Jackson24551386
Rankin22103391
Lee15657235
Madison14662281
Jones13894243
Forrest13506253
Lauderdale12037318
Lowndes11091192
Lamar10531138
Pearl River9557238
Lafayette8581140
Hancock7751130
Washington7458161
Oktibbeha7152133
Monroe6796178
Warren6752176
Pontotoc6736104
Neshoba6656206
Panola6572131
Marshall6494135
Bolivar6331150
Union607794
Pike5849154
Alcorn5691102
Lincoln5468135
George502979
Scott474198
Tippah472481
Prentiss471582
Leflore4676144
Itawamba4651105
Tate4632111
Adams4617120
Copiah450092
Simpson4458116
Yazoo445388
Wayne440772
Covington429894
Sunflower4246105
Marion4236108
Coahoma4178108
Leake409888
Newton383179
Grenada3731108
Tishomingo361592
Stone360664
Jasper336565
Attala335290
Winston315391
Clay309077
Chickasaw302367
Clarke295894
Calhoun279947
Holmes268788
Smith266550
Yalobusha237247
Tallahatchie228752
Greene220649
Walthall219364
Lawrence213640
Perry206456
Amite206056
Webster203446
Noxubee186940
Montgomery179757
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169639
Tunica160139
Benton149439
Kemper142141
Choctaw134627
Claiborne132838
Humphreys129738
Franklin120728
Quitman106828
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson95934
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 821255

Reported Deaths: 15424
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1149051930
Mobile726651340
Madison52400699
Shelby37685350
Baldwin37285552
Tuscaloosa35147613
Montgomery34130740
Lee23556246
Calhoun22255490
Morgan21037378
Etowah19844500
Marshall18390304
Houston17406412
St. Clair16091339
Cullman15493293
Limestone15402199
Elmore15292286
Lauderdale14366295
Talladega13870283
DeKalb12670261
Walker11255370
Blount10227176
Autauga10061148
Jackson9909185
Coffee9215191
Dale8912186
Colbert8907201
Tallapoosa7103198
Escambia6782134
Covington6724183
Chilton6658162
Russell637659
Franklin5992105
Chambers5615142
Marion5016127
Dallas5013202
Pike4799106
Clarke477284
Geneva4577127
Winston4538103
Lawrence4352117
Bibb425686
Barbour358376
Marengo338390
Monroe332064
Randolph330264
Butler328596
Pickens317384
Henry313166
Hale311988
Cherokee303260
Fayette294580
Washington251651
Cleburne247960
Clay245568
Crenshaw245475
Macon235563
Lamar225747
Conecuh186654
Coosa180940
Lowndes175764
Wilcox169139
Bullock151844
Perry139240
Sumter133338
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
Out of AL00
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Columbus
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Out the door we are seeing a mix of clear skies and clouds push through the area and temperatures are still right around average. Most will stay dry through the morning and early afternoon. Another cold front and some low pressure move back into our area. This will bring back into our area some good chances for some rain, along with some isolated thunderstorms.
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