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Tropical Storm Barry Moves Toward Louisiana’s Already-Flooded Coast

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The Mississippi River laps at the stairs on a protective levee in New Orleans as Tropical Storm Barry approaches on July 11th, 2019.

Gulf storm Barry was upgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning as it moved closer to the Louisiana coastline, prompting mandatory evacuations for nearly 10,000 people in low-lying areas along the Mississippi River. The storm could be relabeled a Category 1 hurricane before it’s predicted to make landfall over the weekend.

The storm has already brought more than eight inches of rain to New Orleans, causing flash flooding, and is expected to bring another 10 to 15 inches of rain in the coming days along with a three- to five-foot storm surge.

A Category 1 storm on its own isn’t normally enough to threaten the levee system that protects New Orleans, but Barry’s timing is terrible. The Mississippi River is currently experiencing one of its highest flood tides in history after the United States experienced its wettest 12-month period on record. Parts of the lower Mississippi River have been at flood stage for most of the year.

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