Mon, 20 Jan 2020

Barry Gains Hurricane Strength as It Nears Louisiana Coast

Voice of America
14 Jul 2019, 04:05 GMT+10

Updated July 13, 2019, 11:45 a.m.

Meteorologists say Tropical Storm Barry has achieved hurricane status as it continues to move onto the Louisiana coast.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warns that Barry, now a category one hurricane, is likely to bring dangerous storm surges, plus strong wind and heavy rain that could cause "life threatening flooding" in parts of the Gulf Coast and the Lower Mississippi Valley.

Barry, the first Atlantic hurricane of the season, is packing maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour as it moves toward the coastline at nine kilometers per hour.

Forecasters expect Barry to continue to weaken below hurricane strength later Saturday and further weaken to a tropical depression on Sunday.

Residents in New Orleans are fortifying their homes and stocking up on supplies as Barry begins to roll in from the Gulf of Mexico.

City officials have advised residents to shelter in their homes, with the exception of two coastal parishes south of the city, where mandatory evacuations have been ordered.

Tourists had largely left the city Friday. Some airlines canceled outbound flights on Saturday.

New Orleans Residents Shelter in Homes as Tropical Storm Rolls In Storm could trigger more flooding in and around New Orleans

The main threat from the storm is expected to be its flood potential rather than its high winds. The storm is widely seen as a test of the city's weather defenses put in place following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which left about 1,800 people dead.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared a State of Emergency in Louisiana Thursday night, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate federal funds and resources to help the state cope with the storm and its aftermath.

New Orleans, which is already dealing with floods from Wednesday's fierce rainstorms, is likely to see more flash flooding. The city of Baton Rouge is also facing threats of flash flooding.

As of Friday evening, Barry was on a path toward Morgan City, which is surrounded by water and nearly 140 kilometers southwest of New Orleans.

Forecasters predict the city can expect as much as 51 centimeters of additional rain from Barry, pushing the Mississippi River's crest close to the top of the 6-meter-high levees protecting New Orleans.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards already has declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for about 10,000 people living near the stretch of the Mississippi closest to the Gulf. A storm surge warning is in effect for southern and southeastern Louisiana.

Along with heavy rain and strong winds, Barry could bring tornadoes before it moves inland and weakens.

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