ORLANDO, Fla. — A hurricane warning is now in effect for coastal Louisiana as Tropical Storm Barry continued to churn west at about 5 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. EDT advisory Thursday.
Forecasters say Barry could cause a “dangerous storm surge” of up to 6 feet. It was about 90 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 175 miles southeast of Morgan City, La., with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. It’s expected to dump as much as 25 inches of rain over southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi.
“Barry is going to produce a tremendous amount of rain. So, there’s a lot of concern about flooding in New Orleans,” said WOFL-TV meteorologist Jayme King. “The French Quarter is notorious for having awful drainage. The city is already saturated, and the Mississippi River is already high … We’re hoping they get through this OK.”
A tropical storm warning was in effect for Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas including metropolitan New Orleans, as well as the Louisiana coast west of Intracoastal City to Cameron. A hurricane warning was issued for Intracoastal City to Grand Isle, an area which forecasters expect will experience hurricane conditions by Friday night or Saturday morning.
“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the hurricane center said.
Tornadoes could also be seen in southeast Louisiana, southern Mississippi and the Alabama coast, the center added.
A number of environmental conditions have presented themselves as favorable to Barry’s ongoing development including a lack of wind shear in the atmosphere that would otherwise disrupt the storm’s structure.
The system’s slow speed is expected to increase Barry’s strength as it remains over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico which have a temperature in the upper 80s, King said.
“I think those conditions are why this thing just skipped a depression status and went straight into a tropical storm,” King said. “Barry could be a Category 1 hurricane by 7 a.m. Saturday before making landfall on Louisiana.”
The Hurricane Center forecasts long-duration of heavy rainfall along the central Gulf Coast and inland through the lower Mississippi Valley through the weekend and potentially into early next week, due to Barry’s slow speed.
“Flash flooding and river flooding will become increasingly likely, some of which may be significant, especially along and east of the track of the system,” NHC said.
“Interests elsewhere along the U.S. Gulf Coast from the Upper Texas Coast to the Florida Panhandle should monitor the progress of this system,” meteorologists said.
Barry would follow Subtropical Storm Andrea as named storms this hurricane season, which began June 1.
While eyes remain on the Gulf, a second disturbance was detected in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa, NHC said.
A tropical wave several hundred miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands is producing shower activity. There is a 10% chance of development over the next five days.
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