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.

Confirmed Cases: 28770

Reported Deaths: 1092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds224739
DeSoto144216
Madison124234
Jones109149
Neshoba97070
Lauderdale89479
Rankin86012
Forrest82942
Harrison79410
Scott75715
Copiah58016
Leake56519
Jackson55716
Holmes53641
Wayne52212
Lee51816
Oktibbeha51625
Washington5129
Yazoo4786
Leflore47449
Warren46317
Lowndes45912
Lincoln43734
Lamar4317
Grenada3965
Pike39312
Monroe37529
Lafayette3684
Attala35523
Newton3329
Sunflower3216
Covington3175
Bolivar29813
Panola2956
Adams28018
Simpson2713
Chickasaw26418
Tate2648
Marion26311
Pontotoc2616
Jasper2516
Noxubee2478
Pearl River24532
Clay24410
Winston2446
Claiborne23910
Marshall2123
Smith21111
Clarke20424
Coahoma1906
Union1819
Walthall1794
Kemper17614
Yalobusha1667
Lawrence1621
Carroll16111
Humphreys1309
Itawamba1308
Tippah12711
Webster12610
Calhoun1244
Montgomery1242
Hancock12313
Tallahatchie1153
Jefferson Davis1074
Prentiss1003
Greene968
Jefferson963
Wilkinson929
Tunica903
Amite842
George753
Tishomingo731
Choctaw724
Quitman690
Perry634
Alcorn601
Stone541
Franklin392
Benton270
Sharkey270
Issaquena81
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 39604

Reported Deaths: 961
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4532143
Montgomery3875102
Mobile3797134
Tuscaloosa210739
Marshall162210
Lee124537
Shelby110923
Madison11047
Morgan10203
Walker87123
Franklin86314
Dallas8419
Elmore83614
Baldwin7359
Etowah64413
DeKalb6415
Butler60727
Chambers60027
Tallapoosa57269
Autauga55312
Unassigned50724
Russell5030
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4576
Houston4464
Limestone4290
Cullman4114
Pike4075
Colbert3775
Bullock3649
Coffee3592
Barbour3331
Covington3327
St. Clair3192
Marengo29911
Hale29621
Escambia2936
Wilcox2848
Talladega2827
Calhoun2805
Sumter27912
Clarke2686
Dale2620
Jackson2522
Winston2373
Blount2181
Pickens2176
Chilton2152
Marion20613
Monroe2052
Choctaw19212
Randolph1889
Conecuh1866
Greene1788
Macon1778
Bibb1761
Perry1541
Henry1303
Crenshaw1243
Washington1027
Lawrence1000
Cherokee797
Lamar711
Geneva700
Fayette671
Clay612
Coosa571
Cleburne301
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