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Tropical Storm Barry prompts evacuations in Louisiana, floodwaters overtop levees

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Tropical Storm Barry, which made landfall Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane near Intracoastal City, La., moved inland over the southern portion of the state in the afternoon.

Multiple reports emerged Saturday of levees overtopping in Terrebonne and Plaquemines parishes, leading to mandatory evacuations being ordered by Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove for all areas along Louisiana Highway 315.

Sheriff’s deputies were going door to door in St. Mary’s Parish to notify residents of mandatory evacuations for areas south of Highway 317. An Accuweather.com extreme meteorologist captured video of water overtopping a levee in the parish.

About 10 a.m. CDT Saturday, Barry became the first hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season and the fourth hurricane to ever make landfall on the Louisiana coast in the month of July. The storm’s landfall near Intracoastal City was about 160 miles west 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.

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

In its 7 p.m. CDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the eye of the storm was located 45 miles south-southwest of Alexandria and 55 miles northwest of Lafayatte. Maximum sustained winds were at 60 mph, 14 mph below the hurricane designation, and the storm was moving 8 mph north-northwest, with the general motion expected to continue into the night.

Barry was downgraded to a tropical storm from a Category 1 hurricane after making landfall earlier Saturday.

“Dangerous storm surge, heavy rains and wind conditions continuing across the north-central Gulf Coast,” the NWS said in the 7 p.m. report.

A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the mouth of the Mississippi River to Cameron, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, including metropolitan New Orleans. A Tropical Storm Warning west of Cameron, La., was discontinued.

A storm surge warning was in effect for Intracoastal City to Biloxi and the Lake Pontchartrain area.

The center of Barry is forecast to move into central Louisiana on Saturday night, and into northern Louisiana on Sunday, the NWS said.

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.

“Our greatest concern is for torrential rain that would result in life-threatening flooding,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said. “AccuWeather meteorologists expect a storm surge of 3-6 feet mostly along and just to the right of the storm’s path.”

Just east of where Barry made landfall, a tide gauge at Amerada Pass measured a storm surge of nearly 7 feet on Saturday afternoon.

Storm surge began to inundate the coast of Louisiana on Friday morning as Barry gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico. AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer reported from just outside of Chauvin, La., about an hour south of New Orleans.

Residents of Marsh Island, about 100 miles west of New Orleans, who weren’t put under voluntary or mandatory evacuation were told to shelter in place as of Friday night.

Louisiana declared a state of emergency in advance of Barry’s arrival as residents and crews work to brace the city for impact. Residents were told to shelter in place by 8 p.m. CDT Friday.

Every flood gate has been closed along Lake Pontchartrain due to the anticipated flooding. The city of New Orleans is not offering any sandbags, but businesses and residents have stepped up to provide sandbags for people in town. AccuWeather National Reporter Jonathan Petramala captured video of dozens of residents pitching in to fill up sandbags in preparation for Barry.

“Regardless of whether Barry reaches hurricane strength, the storm will produce life-threatening flooding, locally damaging winds and isolated tornadoes as it tracks inland,” Duff said.

Barry is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 20 inches over south-central and southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi, with isolated maximum amounts of 25 inches.

Impacts from Barry were felt along the Florida panhandle as well. 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.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned residents during a news conference Friday that Barry would be a significant weather event, telling residents not to take the storm lightly. Edwards said the state and levees in New Orleans were ready for impact and should withstand the floodwaters.

A levee in Myrtle Grove, La., has experienced some overtopping, but is not a Mississippi River levee.

“I do want to clear up a little bit of misinformation going around: The overtopping that has occurred in Plaquemines Parish is not the Mississippi levee,” Edwards said Saturday in a CNN report. “It is a back levee in the vicinity of Myrtle Grove and it points further south.”

Edwards said this overtopping was expected.

“No Mississippi River levee has been overtopped, and not a single levee in the state of Louisiana — as of right now — has failed or breached,” he said.

A mandatory evacuation notice for parts of Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana were issued Saturday afternoon in response to the overtopping of the Lower Dularge East Levee.

“Our greatest concern is for torrential rain that would result in life-threatening flooding,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said. “AccuWeather meteorologists expect a maximum storm surge of 3-6 feet mostly along and just to the right of the storm’s path.”

Dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

Storm surge began to inundate the coast of Louisiana on Friday morning as Barry gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico. AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer reported from just outside of Chauvin, La., about an hour south of New Orleans.

About 115,105 of 2,282,696 customers tracked across Louisiana were without power as of 8 p.m. local time Saturday, according to PowerOutages.US.

All inbound and outbound flights to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport have been canceled as as of 7 a.m. CDT.

This weekend’s Rolling Stones concert has been delayed. Mick Jagger and the rest of the Rolling Stones were set to perform in the Superdome on Sunday, but the concert has been moved to Monday due to Barry. The date of the concert could potentially change again due to the lingering impacts from Barry.

Additional reporting by AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer, National News Reporter Jonathan Petramala, and Staff Writers Chaffin Mitchell and Adriana Navaro





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