New Orleans braces as Tropical Storm Barry forms; Storm expected to hit Louisiana as a hurricane Saturday

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Louisiana is under a hurricane watch as a tropical storm near the Gulf Coast gains strength. The New Orleans area has already experienced heavy rain.

Tropical Storm Barry, the second named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, formed Thursday morning in the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s expected to hit the Gulf Coast as a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said.

A tropical storm warning was put in effect Thursday for the Louisiana coast from the mouth of the Pearl River to Morgan City.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency, warning that the “entire coast of Louisiana is at play in this storm.” 

People cope with the aftermath of severe weather in the Broadmoor neighborhood in New Orleans, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. x
People cope with the aftermath of severe weather in the Broadmoor neighborhood in New Orleans, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. x (Photo: Nick Reimann, The Advocate via AP)

He said National Guard troops and high-water vehicles would be positioned all over the state.

Mandatory evacuations for some 10,000 people were ordered Thursday for portions of the east bank of Plaquemines Parish, which encompasses the last 70 miles of the Mississippi River before it reaches the Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters said that Louisiana – the bull’s-eye of the emerging storm – could see up to 12 inches of rain by Monday, with some isolated areas receiving up to 18 inches.

“The slow movement of this system will result in a long duration heavy rainfall threat along the central Gulf Coast and inland through the lower Mississippi Valley through the weekend and potentially into next week,” the weather service said.

In addition to the heavy rain, “there is a danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation along the coast of southern and southeastern Louisiana,” the hurricane center warned.

As of 11 a.m. ET Thursday, the hurricane center said that Barry had sustained winds of 40 mph and was crawling to the west at 5 mph. The center of the storm was located about 200 miles southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana. 

A satellite image shows Tropical Storm Barry spinning in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday morning.
A satellite image shows Tropical Storm Barry spinning in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday morning. 

The warning emerged on the same day that a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration report warned Americans of a “floodier” future, with some streets in Louisiana’s largest city, including in the famed French Quarter, looking more like rivers.

In New Orleans, an early line of thunderstorms dumped as much as seven inches of rain within a three-hour period Wednesday morning, leaving up to four feet of water in some streets.

City officials asked residents to have at least three days of supplies on hand and to keep their neighborhood storm drains clear so water can move quickly.

That heavy rain could push the swollen Mississippi River dangerously close to the top of the city’s levees, officials cautioned.

Ricky Boyett, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans said the agency was not expecting widespread overtopping of the levees, but there are concerns for areas south of the city.

“We’re confident the levees themselves are in good shape,” he said. “The big focus is height.”

The river was expected to rise to 19 feet by late Friday at a key gauge in New Orleans. The area is protected by levees 20 to 25 feet high, he said.

After Wednesday’s onslaught of heavy rain, Valerie R. Burton said her neighborhood looked like a lake outside her door.

“There was about three to four feet of water in the street, pouring onto the sidewalks and at my door,” Burton said. “I went to my neighbors to alert them and tell them to move their cars.”

The rapidly rising waters brought memories of a 2017 flash flood that exposed major problems – and led to major personnel changes – at the Sewerage and Water Board, which oversees street drainage.

City officials said the pumping system that drains streets was at full capacity. But the immense amount of rain in three hours would overwhelm any system, said Sewerage and Water Board director Ghassan Korban.

Eric Ehlenberger, a physician and neon artist, goes through his damaged home in New Orleans on July 10, 2019, following a storm that swamped the city and paralyzed traffic. Ehlenberger said his wife was able to crawl out safely.
Eric Ehlenberger, a physician and neon artist, goes through his damaged home in New Orleans on July 10, 2019, following a storm that swamped the city and paralyzed traffic. Ehlenberger said his wife was able to crawl out safely. Matthew Hinton, AP
Rain obscures the bridge across the Mississippi River into New Orleans on Wednesday, July 10, 2019.
Rain obscures the bridge across the Mississippi River into New Orleans on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Janet McConnaughey, AP
David Fox makes a call from his business on Poydras Street in New Orleans after flooding in New Orleans Wednesday, July 10, 2019. A storm swamped New Orleans streets and paralyzed rush-hour traffic Wednesday as concerns grew that even worse weather was on the way.
David Fox makes a call from his business on Poydras Street in New Orleans after flooding in New Orleans Wednesday, July 10, 2019. A storm swamped New Orleans streets and paralyzed rush-hour traffic Wednesday as concerns grew that even worse weather was on the way. Matthew Hinton, AP
Frank Conforto Jr. walks in the parking lot of the University Medical Center with the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the background on Glavez Street in New Orleans after flooding from a storm Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of tropical weather that could dump as much as 15 inches of rain in the state over the coming days.
Frank Conforto Jr. walks in the parking lot of the University Medical Center with the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the background on Glavez Street in New Orleans after flooding from a storm Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of tropical weather that could dump as much as 15 inches of rain in the state over the coming days. Matthew Hinton, AP
A truck passes by the University Medical Center  with the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the background on Glavez Street in New Orleans after flooding from a storm Wednesday, July 10, 2019.
A truck passes by the University Medical Center with the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the background on Glavez Street in New Orleans after flooding from a storm Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Matthew Hinton, AP
Flooding comes up the wheels of a parked car on Belfast Street near Eagle Street in New Orleans Wednesday, July 10, 2019 after flooding from a 100-year storm from a tropical wave system in the Gulf Mexico dumped lots of rain. The wave system may form into a hurricane called Barry later in the week.
Flooding comes up the wheels of a parked car on Belfast Street near Eagle Street in New Orleans Wednesday, July 10, 2019 after flooding from a 100-year storm from a tropical wave system in the Gulf Mexico dumped lots of rain. The wave system may form into a hurricane called Barry later in the week. Matthew Hinton, AP
Jalana Furlough carries her son Drew Furlough as Terrian Jones carries Chance Furlough on Belfast Street near Eagle Street in New Orleans after flooding from a tropical wave system in the Gulf Mexico that dumped lots of rain in Wednesday, July 10, 2019.
Jalana Furlough carries her son Drew Furlough as Terrian Jones carries Chance Furlough on Belfast Street near Eagle Street in New Orleans after flooding from a tropical wave system in the Gulf Mexico that dumped lots of rain in Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Matthew Hinton, AP
A car is under water as the intersection of Franklin Ave. and 610 floods after a severe thunderstorm Wednesday, July 10, 2019. A storm swamped streets in New Orleans and prompted a tornado warning near the city Wednesday as concerns grew that even worse weather is on the way to Louisiana and other states along the Gulf of Mexico.
A car is under water as the intersection of Franklin Ave. and 610 floods after a severe thunderstorm Wednesday, July 10, 2019. A storm swamped streets in New Orleans and prompted a tornado warning near the city Wednesday as concerns grew that even worse weather is on the way to Louisiana and other states along the Gulf of Mexico. Max Becherer, The Advocate via AP
Motorists react as the intersection at Franklin Ave. and 610 in New Orleans floods after a severe thunderstorm Wednesday, July 10, 2019.
Motorists react as the intersection at Franklin Ave. and 610 in New Orleans floods after a severe thunderstorm Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Max Becherer, The Advocate via AP
Vehicles are stuck in floodwaters along S. Galvez Street as heavy rain falls, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in New Orleans.
Vehicles are stuck in floodwaters along S. Galvez Street as heavy rain falls, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in New Orleans. David Grunfeld, The Advocate via AP
Traffic backs up as rain comes down at Airline Drive and S. Carrollton Ave. in New Orleans, as severe thunderstorms cause street flooding Wednesday, July 10, 2019.
Traffic backs up as rain comes down at Airline Drive and S. Carrollton Ave. in New Orleans, as severe thunderstorms cause street flooding Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Max Becherer, The Advocate via AP

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