Barry Becomes a Hurricane, Barrels Toward Louisiana Coast

Concrete bags in front of buildings

Concrete bags in front of buildings

Tropical Storm Barry continues its slow path toward the coast of South Louisiana late Friday afternoon, and it is expected to make landfall either late Friday night or early Saturday.

Parts of Dauphin Island, a barrier island in Alabama 322 kilometres from where Barry was headed, were flooded both by rain and surging water from the Gulf, said Mayor Jeff Collier, who was driving around in a Humvee to survey damage. The storm, expected to cause close to US$1 billion in damage, was bearing down on Louisiana's central coast. 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. Top winds are estimated to be 75 miles per hour in a small area at the Louisiana coast.

After briefly becoming a Category 1 hurricane, the system weakened to a tropical storm as it made landfall near Intracoastal City, about 257km west of New Orleans, with its winds falling to 112km, the National Hurricane Center said. "To put it in perspective, New Orleans gets about nearly six inches in the month of July". Follow WBRZ Weather on Facebook and Twitter for even more weather updates while you are on the go.

Additionally, Barry has already curbed about half the production of energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico, helping lift oil prices.

The downpours were also lashing coastal Alabama and Mississippi.

After it comes ashore, it will quickly break up as it rains itself out. By next week, it will be bring about 1 inch of rain across southern IL and IN, which could benefit farmers there, said Ryan Truchelut, president of Weather Tiger LLC IN Tallahassee, Florida. Barry probably won't be remembered for its winds.

The biggest worry has been the flooding, officials said. There were predictions of 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimetres) of rain through Sunday across a swath of Louisiana that includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge, with some parts of the state possibly getting 25 inches (63 centimetres). Barry was expected to continue weakening and become a tropical depression on Sunday.

Wind speeds are estimated at over 75 miles per hour, and heavy rainfall is expected to lead to massive flooding and storm surges. That should keep the river below the tops of levees in the city, according to Cantrell. The rain forecast is still significant and a reduction in flooding issues is not the same as no flooding issues.

Authorities were keeping a particularly watchful eye on the levee system built to contain the lower Mississippi River, which winds through the heart of New Orleans and was already well above flood stage from months of heavy upstream rainfall over the Midwest.

A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers doesn't believe levees will be topped by flood waters.

Sea levels have also increased as a result of global heating, so if winds are blowing towards shore, this makes flooding much more likely during high tides.

USA benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude traded above $60 a barrel on Friday, while natural gas futures are headed for a third straight weekly gain.

Barry's maximum sustained winds were clocked at 65mph as it churned through the northern Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana. The biggest immediate threat is the storm surge - Gulf water pushed over the land in southeastern Louisiana.

Louisiana declared a state of emergency in advance of Barry's arrival as residents and crews work to brace the city for impact.

Barry developed as a disturbance in the Gulf that stunned New Orleans during the Wednesday morning rush with a sudden deluge that flooded streets, homes and businesses.

"If we anticipate that this could happen with more frequency going forward, then it has to inform a lot of things we do in the state of Louisiana to prepare for disasters in the future", the governor continued.

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.

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