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

14 July, 2019, 06:21 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Concrete bags in front of buildings

The storm, which has now strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane, is expected to make landfall in southern Louisiana on Saturday.

Despite the downgrade to tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned people of unsafe storm surges, heavy wind and rains. Barry was expected to continue weakening and become a tropical depression on Sunday.

A coastal storm surge into the mouth of the MS is expected to push its crest to 19ft in New Orleans, the highest level since 1950 and dangerously close to the top of the city's levees.

"Rainfall remains the primary hazard, we are still looking at 10 to 15 inches of rain with the possibility of higher, isolated amounts", Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told a news conference. The small town had an overnight curfew that expired Saturday morning, after on-and-off rain and power outages.

Late Friday night, residents received good news from forecasters: The Mississippi River is expected to crest in New Orleans at about 17.1 feet (5.2 metres) on Monday, not 19 feet (5.8 metres) as had been earlier predicted.

Streets and businesses were flooded along Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, just north of New Orleans, according to a Reuters witness.

He said: "This is going to be a Louisiana event with coastal flooding and heavy rainfall potentially impacting every part of the state". That could balloon to US$3.2 billion if floods overwhelm New Orleans, he said.

Barry is the first hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, and only the fourth hurricane to ever to make landfall on the Louisiana coast in the month of July.

President Donald Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, including federal agencies in the coordination of relief efforts.

New Orleans residents were bracing for a rise in water of up to 5 feet. However, some nervous residents opted to flee the city, and tourism officials reported an abrupt exodus of out-of-town visitors on Friday.

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Yuda and Cecilia Lilo, from Bolivia, were among the tourists who stayed. "We took a chance and we're making the best of it".

Barry is the first hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in 2019 during the Atlantic hurricane season.

At least 1 hurricane has hit the U.S. for 4 consecutive years and the MS river has reached the highest point it has ever been during a storm of this size, as reported by ABC.

Resident Jessica Awad, 36, said she wasn't anxious.

New Orleans was already saturated after thunderstorms drenched the city with a foot of rain on Wednesday.

The impending storm was widely seen as a key test of the fortified flood defences put in place following Katrina, which inundated much of the city and killed about 1,800 people.

The storm could still bring unsafe rainfall flooding and storm surge to coastal regions southwest of New Orleans and to Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Rainwater is pumped out through a century-old system of canals, drainage pipes and pumps - all suffering from decades of neglect, laid bare during a particularly bad August 2017 deluge that dropped as much as 9 inches (23 centimeters) in three hours.

"On the forecast track, the centre of Barry will move through southern Louisiana this afternoon, into central Louisiana tonight, and into northern Louisiana on Sunday".

Across the city, motorists parked cars on the raised median strips of roadways, hoping the extra elevation would protect them from flood damage. "Stock up food. Get ready for the storm - ride it out", he said.

The sheriff's office said dozens of jail inmates held on minor charges were released to make room for almost 70 inmates transferred from a temporary lockup to the main detention facility, which was built to withstand a major hurricane. "I paid the consequences".

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