New Orleans braces as Hurricane Barry hits land nearby

14 Juillet, 2019, 06:21 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • The storm was packing winds of 100km an hour just shy of hurricane strength

A hurricane remains in effect for Intracoastal City to Grand Isle but a hurricane watch has been discontinued for the Louisiana coast west of Intracoastal City.

For a few hours, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), just above the 74 mph (120 kph) threshold to be a hurricane.

As the storm began with overnight showers and significant winds, some motorists still managed to fearless the weather in spite of warnings of 20 inches (50 centimetres) of rain.

The rain from Barry is falling onto a Lower Mississippi River region that is already saturated with water from the wettest 12-month period on record. Frontier, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines have also canceled all Saturday flights to and from the airport.

In Morgan City, the streets were deserted. If the highway floods, residents will not be able to utilize the River Levee to evacuate south of Phillips 66.

Clouds from Tropical Storm Barry spin over downtown New Orleans on Saturday.

Louisiana's governor, John Bel Edwards, has urged residents not to become complacent. But Mayor LaToya Cantrell said 48 hours of heavy downpours could overwhelm pumps created to purge streets and storm drains of excess water.

NHC Director Ken Graham warned of the potential for inland flooding: "It's not just a coastal event".

The storm called Barry formed over hotter-than-usual water in the Gulf of Mexico, and that helped it gain strength and pick up moisture. "If that doesn't force people to react to this and listen to their local officials [when they tell them to evacuate] then I don't know what else we can tell them". It is not, however, the first tropical storm of year, as Tropical Storm Andrea hit the Atlantic in May.

So three issues are adding together: The extremely high Mississippi River, the storm surge slowing the river flow pushing the water higher in the southern end of the river and the extreme rainfall. "So we're just hunkering down", he said.

At a news conference on Friday, Edwards vowed the state was ready for impact and levees in New Orleans should withstand the floodwaters.

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But local revelers and tourists drank "hurricane" cocktails and sang arm in arm as they walked down Bourbon Street late Friday.

New Orleans residents were bracing for a rise in water of up to 5 feet.

Louisiana is facing an extraordinarily risky confluence of conditions, experts say. Forecasters say Hurricane Barry could drop 10 to 20 inches of rain by tomorrow through Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and southwestern MS, and hit some parts of Louisiana with 25 inches.

The weather service said the heaviest rain from Barry could come from late Sunday into early Monday if rain bands from the storm move into the Tennessee Valley.

"There's still going to be two to three feet between the top of the levee and the top of the floodwaters", Cassidy told Fox News.

New Orleans received up to 10 inches of rain in a three-hour span earlier this week, and the levees in town are already at flood stage.

While the Army Corps of Engineers said that levees should protect New Orleans from flood waters, there were images already of some levees being inundated with water south of the city.

Many businesses were also shut down or closed early in Baton Rouge, and winds were strong enough to rock large pickup trucks.

Ahead of the storm, New Orleans residents flocked to supermarkets for bottled water, ice, snacks and beer, thronging grocery stores in such numbers that some ran out of shopping carts.

The impending storm could test beefed-up flood defenses put in place since the 2005 calamity of Hurricane Katrina, which left much of New Orleans underwater and killed about 1,800 people.

The city's main sports arena, the Superdome, was turned into an emergency shelter during Katrina.

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