Barry lashes Louisiana coast with heavy rain

Concrete bags in front of buildings

The Crescent City sealed all of its floodgates for the first time since 2005's Hurricane Katrina, but officials said they no longer believed water would top the levees built along the MS after that storm devastated the city. A number of other southern parishes were affected, including Jefferson Parish outside of New Orleans.

Since record-keeping began in 1851, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach, only Hurricanes Bob in 1979, Danny in 1997 and Cindy in 2005, have made landfall on the Louisiana coast in July.

Barry was moving so slowly that heavy rain was expected to continue all weekend. Barry was briefly classified as a hurricane when sustained winds hit 119 kph (74 mph).

Clouds are seen over the Central Business District at dawn as Tropical Storm Barry approaches in New Orleans Saturday, July 13, 2019.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham, in a storm update on Facebook Live, pointed to long stretches along the coast expecting a storm surge of 6 feet or higher, along with the torrential rain.

Life-threatening, significant flash flooding and river flooding will become increasingly likely later on Saturday and overnight, especially across portions of south-central and southeast Louisiana into MS, forecasters said.

"If you get a few sprinkles over time, the water has time to infiltrate and there's not much runoff", said Michalak, who studies effects of climate change on water quality. Due to the Hurricane Emergency Center declaring that the storm was "strengthening" and that "water is going to be a big issue", the governors of Louisiana and MS have declared a state of emergency. It quickly weakened to a tropical storm, however, with winds dropping to 70 miles per hour.

People should not focus on Barry's wind speed, but instead be wary of the rain it will unleash across the region, AccuWeather forecasters cautioned.

The center is still warning of risky, potentially life-threatening storm surges. The levees protecting the city range from about 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 metres) in height.

Though expected to be a weak hurricane, Barry threatened disastrous flooding across a swath of the Gulf Coast. "To put it in perspective, New Orleans gets about nearly six inches in the month of July".

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New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell thanked residents for staying off the streets and urged them to remain vigilant because the worst of the wind and rain was yet to arrive.

Governors declared emergencies in Louisiana and MS, and authorities took closed floodgates and raised water barriers around New Orleans.

Every flood gate has been closed along Lake Pontchartrain due to the anticipated flooding.

Residents in Louisiana and its largest city, New Orleans, hunkered down in preparation for rising waters brought by Barry.

Studies of those previous hurricanes, as well as other storms, have found that warm water and warm air both contribute to deadly flooding. The forecast is for 10 to 20 inches of rain, with some areas getting more.

The city of Houston is also gathering donations to be sent to those impacted by Barry. That could balloon to US$3.2 billion if floods overwhelm New Orleans, he said. That should keep the river below the tops of levees in the city, according to Cantrell.

John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency, as has President Donald Trump. "It is a back levee in the vicinity of Myrtle Grove and it points further south".

"We can say now that the rivers will certainly not overtop the levees anywhere on the Mississippi", Edwards said. Highs in the lower 90s return Saturday afternoon!

"The problem with slow-moving storms or even tropical storms around this area is that it's unpredictable", she said.

Elsewhere, more than 120,000 customers in Louisiana and another almost 6,000 customers in MS and Alabama were without power Saturday, according to poweroutage.us.

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