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Tropical Storm Barry: New Orleans flooded as the city braces for likely hurricane

Tropical Storm Barry is shown in the Gulf of Mexico approaching the coast of Louisiana, U.S. in this July 11, 2019. Photo Credit: NASA/Handout via REUTERS

Tropical Storm Barry: New Orleans flooded as the city braces for likely hurricane

Tropical Storm Barry is forming into a likely hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, and is set to hit the already-flooded US city of New Orleans.

Tropical Storm Barry: New Orleans flooded as the city braces for likely hurricane

Hurricane warnings have been issued, a state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana and the National Guard activated, and mandatory evacuations have been ordered in some places along the Louisiana coast as Tropical Storm Barry formed over the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday morning. 

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 its winds will top 74 mph.

“There is a fairly high chance that Tropical Storm Barry will become a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale before making landfall,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

But it’s not the wind that makes this storm so treacherous. It’s the colossal rainfall and massive storm surges. The tropical storm has already brought thunderstorms to the city, triggering flash floods.

The storm is forecast to produce up to 20 inches of rain in eastern Louisiana, a storm surge of several feet along the coast and areas of damaging wind. This is a “dangerous” set of conditions, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The Mississippi river could come dangerously close to overtopping levees shielding the city, officials warn.

It could rise as high as 20ft (6m) above sea level, they say, potentially exceeding the 20-25ft levees.

“We’re confident the levees themselves are in good shape. The big focus is height,” Ricky Boyett, a spokesman for the US Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the fortifications, told the AP.

Louisiana’s governor 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.

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