Published: Sun, July 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Tropical Storm Barry Floods Block Road to Coastal Louisiana Towns

Tropical Storm Barry Floods Block Road to Coastal Louisiana Towns

Despite weakening, Barry will continue to slowly spread a widespread swath of flooding and torrential rain from Louisiana and western MS to eastern Arkansas, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

More than 45,000 people in southern Louisiana had lost power, and some roads were underwater as the edges of the storm lashed Louisiana and coastal MS and Alabama with rain.

In other parts of Louisiana on Saturday, Barry flooded highways, forced people to scramble to rooftops and dumped heavy rain, as it made landfall near Intracoastal City, about 160 miles (257 kilometres) west of New Orleans.

A coastal storm surge into the mouth of the MS was expected to push its crest to 19 feet (5.79 m) in New Orleans on Saturday, the highest level since 1950 and dangerously close to the top of the city's levees.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned that the storm's impact, coupled with the already-high Mississippi River -which has been swelled by heavy rain and snowmelt upriver this spring - could be a risky combination. The storm has been fueled by climate change, which is also exacerbating potential flooding.

Others hunkered down to ride out the squall, despite mandatory evacuation orders and the risk of unsafe storm surges.

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. And even with the heavy rain ahead, the NWS is now only predicting up to 17.1 feet, with the next crest expected to happen on Monday.

But the extent of the damage - and whether it will be at least partially offset by benefits such as disruption of the notorious Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" - is hard to predict, they say. "This means that New Orleans residents are not out of the woods with this system".

An earlier version of this story had an incorrect last name for one New Orleans resident. He said crews were working to contain the water. The low-lying coastal area of the state is particularly prone to flooding and much of it has already been lost through erosion.

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


New Orleans was already saturated after thunderstorms drenched the city with a foot of rain on Wednesday. AccuWeather National Reporter Jonathan Petramala captured video of dozens of residents pitching in to fill up sandbags in preparation for Barry.

We concentrate on New Orleans because of the dense population and the vulnerability of the city, but the corridor of heavy rain is forecast to develop across and good part of southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi and possibly Alabama. On Friday, a law enforcement officer was treated for facial cuts after a powerful wave churned up by Barry broke the windshield of a boat near Destin, Florida, about 50 miles east of Pensacola, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office Twitter page.

"This storm still has a long way to go before it leaves this state", Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Saturday night.

US Senator Bill Cassidy said officials with the Army Corps of Engineers told him they were "confident" that the 20-foot-high levee system protecting New Orleans, a city of 400,000, would hold.

Levee floodgates normally left open to allow passage of traffic were being closed, along with a giant ocean surge barrier erected after Katrina.

Water was flowing over a "back levee" in Point Celeste in Plaquemines Parish, officials said in an automated telephone recording distributed to residents. "AccuWeather meteorologists expect a maximum storm surge of 3-6 feet mostly along and just to the right of the storm's path".

Barry has another thing in common with recent storms: it's moving extremely slowly.

More than 70,000 customers were without power Saturday morning, including 66,830 in Louisiana and 3,140 in MS, according to poweroutage.us. Some airlines, including British Airways, have cancelled outbound flights from the city through Saturday.

This weekend's Rolling Stones concert has been delayed.

"The slow pace pushed the timing of expected impacts further into today, tonight and Sunday".

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