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Tropical Storm Barry develops in the Gulf, threatening more epic flooding in Louisiana

The National Hurricane Center issued hurricane watches for parts of coastal Louisiana, as the first tropical system to slam the US this year is expected to make landfall as a hurricane.

Posted: Jul 11, 2019 9:58 AM


A dangerous cyclone spinning toward the Gulf Coast intensified Thursday to become Tropical Storm Barry.

It's the first tropical storm to threaten the US this year. But before Barry makes landfall -- possibly Saturday in Louisiana -- it'll likely be a full-blown hurricane, meaning winds will top 74 mph.

But it's not the wind that makes this storm so treacherous. It's the colossal rainfall and massive storm surges.

Streets in New Orleans have already turned into lakes after the storm's outer bands pummeled the city with up to 9 inches of rain.

And it'll only get worse.

As of 11 a.m. ET, Barry was hurling sustained winds of 40 mph in the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said.

But because Barry is a slow-moving storm -- crawling across the Gulf at just 5 mph -- the system will hover over the same places for a long time, dropping relentless rain and adding to the widespread flooding.

In Grand Isle, Louisiana, the mayor and town council ordered everyone to evacuate Thursday.

"We are expecting a rain fall total that can range from 6" to 10"," they said in a statement. "We will be experiencing unusual high tides that will range more than 3 feet above ground."

Torrential rain and flooding are the biggest threats

Southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle are under the gun for extreme rainfall Thursday, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said.

And storm surge on the coast could be "life-threatening," the National Hurricane Center said.

The rain and storm surge will cause the Mississippi River to swell to dangerous levels. The Mississippi River could crest at 20 feet in New Orleans, or 1.3 feet below the record. The city is only protected to a height of 20 feet.

In preparation for the onslaught, Louisiana officials have started closing flood gates. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority has about 250 flood gates, spokesman Antwan Harris said.

More than 200 flood gates in New Orleans and St. Bernard parishes are expected to be closed by Friday, local media reported.

New Orleans suffered the wrath of the storm's outer bands Wednesday, when up to 9 inches of rain submerged entire neighborhoods under water.

Resident Dannie P. Davis said she's seen enough and is ready to go. She just doesn't know where yet.

"I am evacuating. The water levels ... were too high for my comfort, and my car nearly flooded," Davis told CNN on Thursday.

"I haven't seen this much rain and flooding before a hurricane in a while. While the evacuation isn't mandatory, I am leaving as a precaution. Who knows what's to come, how and whether the city will able to handle it."

Governors say get ready now

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned "no one should take this storm lightly," as 10 to 15 inches of rain could fall within 24 hours between Friday and Saturday.

He declared a state of emergency and urged residents to have a contingency plan for family and pets.

"This is going to be a Louisiana event with coastal flooding and heavy rainfall potentially impacting every part of the state," Edwards said.

And just because the storm might max out as a Category 1 hurricane doesn't mean it won't be destructive. Hurricane categories only denote maximum sustained wind speeds, not rainfall or other factors.

"As we know all too well in Louisiana, low intensity does not necessarily mean low impact," the governor said.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott told residents to make plans now.

"Begin preparing your property, your supplies, your lines of communication to your family members," Abbott said. "Begin preparing to know exactly where you need to go if you need to evacuate."

This storm could affect gas prices

Even if you live far from the coast, you could still get hit by the storm in terms of gas prices.

The tropical system is swirling near many of the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Offshore oil and gas operations in the Gulf are evacuating their facilities, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.

The companies have evacuated employees from 15 production platforms and four rigs so far. Three of the 20 rigs operating in the Gulf have also moved out of the path of the storm, it said.

Follow the storm here

Unlike drilling rigs, which typically move from location to location, production facilities stay in the same spot throughout a project's duration.

And even days before landfall. US oil rose above $60 a barrel on Wednesday amid worries that the storm system could derail crude production in the Gulf of Mexico.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 793065

Reported Deaths: 15189
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2621336401
Riverside574821172
San Bernardino52873908
Orange523821150
San Diego45147765
Kern31572354
Fresno27843362
Sacramento21628383
Alameda20748390
Santa Clara20587299
San Joaquin20019421
Stanislaus16398339
Contra Costa16056201
Tulare15687256
Ventura12477146
Imperial11606314
San Francisco1086599
San Mateo9625144
Monterey956869
Santa Barbara8930110
Merced8820137
Kings753477
Sonoma7160120
Marin6613113
Solano619457
Madera442465
Placer350742
San Luis Obispo343827
Butte276940
Yolo276554
Santa Cruz22768
Sutter167910
Napa164113
San Benito131211
Yuba11307
El Dorado10744
Mendocino87518
Lassen7350
Shasta72414
Glenn5633
Nevada5246
Colusa5196
Tehama5134
Lake51211
Humboldt4896
Calaveras31114
Amador28616
Tuolumne2264
Inyo18714
Mono1652
Siskiyou1630
Del Norte1381
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc250
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 81°
Oroville
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 81°
Paradise
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 81°
Chester
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 64°
Red Bluff
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 79°
Willows
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 81°
Wednesday has been similar to Tuesday around northern California with comfortable temperatures, but unhealthy levels of smoke in the air. A cold front is approaching the West Coast, and that will move over the region on Thursday.
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