Tropical Storm Barry Bears Down on the Gulf Coast

July 12, 2019by Jenny Jarvie and Bettina Boxall
An image of the potential tropical storm taken at 10 a.m. on July 10. [Provided by NOAA]

NEW ORLEANS — This low-lying Louisiana city — built on a crescent-shaped sliver of land surrounded by the mouth of the Mississippi River, Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico — has long battled water.

But Tropical Storm Barry presents a somewhat unusual threat.

While tropical storms and hurricanes are a risk along the Gulf Coast throughout the summer and fall, Barry comes at a time when the Mississippi River is already swollen from unprecedented late-season flooding.

Normally, flooding on the lower Mississippi River subsides in May. But the wettest 12-month period on record in the contiguous U.S. has drenched the Midwest, so that the Mississippi River has been above flood stage in southern Louisiana for 187 days, beating a 1927 record by nearly two months.

The Mississippi is already more than 16 feet above sea level in New Orleans, according to the National Weather Service in the city. The levees that protect New Orleans from the river are between 20 and 25 feet high.

“Nowhere along the Mississippi River will the levee be overtopped, but this could be a very significant rain event,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a briefing Thursday in New Orleans. “And whether the water is flooding you, whether it comes from the sky or from the river, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter — it presents the same threat.”

While forecasters expect a storm surge of 3 to 6 feet across southeast Louisiana, in New Orleans it is expected to be about 3 feet, which means the river would probably peak at 19 feet on Saturday, keeping it from overtopping the levees.

Still, Edwards stressed that much of southern Louisiana was still at risk of major flooding. Two low-lying coastal areas south of New Orleans — Plaquemines Parish and Grand Isle — are already under mandatory evacuations.

Poised to become the first tropical system to strike the United States this 2019 hurricane season, Barry could strengthen into a hurricane late Friday before hitting the Louisiana coast early Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

It is also forecast to move slowly, dumping as much as 10 to 20 inches over southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi, with higher amounts in some areas.

“It has the potential to be a huge rainmaker,” said Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric research scientist at Colorado State University. “That is the biggest concern.”

On Thursday afternoon, the storm was about 90 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River, moving west with maximum sustained wind of 40 mph.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for a 150-mile stretch of the Louisiana coast, from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle.

New Orleans got an inkling of what was ahead early Wednesday when heavy thunderstorms flooded streets across the metro area.

The city’s leaders have yet to call for voluntary or mandatory evacuations, but they urged residents Thursday to prepare for the coming deluge by gathering emergency supplies: perishable food to last three days, three gallons of water per person, as well as a week’s supply of prescription medications, first aid kits, flashlights, batteries, matches, lighters and a radio.

On Thursday afternoon, the Louisiana National Guard had begun to activate some of the extra 3,000 soldiers and airmen Edwards had authorized ahead of the storm. It had also staged high-water vehicles and boats in more than 20 communities across the state and positioned helicopters to support search and rescue, evacuation and recon missions as needed.

———

Jarvie reported from New Orleans and Boxall from Los Angeles. Times staff writer Molly Hennessey- Fiske in Houston contributed to this report.

———

©2019 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

In The News

Pentagon Warns That Number of Military Bases With Contaminated Water Likely to Rise Health
Pentagon Warns That Number of Military Bases With Contaminated Water Likely to Rise

WASHINGTON — The number of known military installations with water sources contaminated by cancer-linked firefighting foam is likely to rise, Pentagon officials said Wednesday. In 2018, the Pentagon reported that 401 sites — including wells, on-base drinking sources and groundwater — at its military bases and... Read More

Democratic Debate Ends With Clashes Over Race and Political Leadership 2020 Elections
Democratic Debate Ends With Clashes Over Race and Political Leadership

ATLANTA — Democratic presidential hopefuls clashed on the debate stage Wednesday night over issues of race and political leadership as front-runners were challenged on their ability to rebuild the diverse coalition that elected President Barack Obama. As the race for the nomination has grown increasingly unsettled,... Read More

House to Meet for 113 Days in 2020, Schedule Maximizes District Time With Constituents U.S. House
House to Meet for 113 Days in 2020, Schedule Maximizes District Time With Constituents
November 21, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The House will convene for its second session on January 7, 2020, and meet for 113 days, according to a legislative calendar released Thursday by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The Maryland Democrat said the calendar has been arranged to ensure members "get their... Read More

Trump Debuts Aggressive Impeachment Response With New Hires Impeachment
Trump Debuts Aggressive Impeachment Response With New Hires

WASHINGTON — The White House is engaging in a more aggressive and organized response to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry after hiring two new aides, though his congressional allies say the effort remains handicapped by President Donald Trump’s own unpredictable reactions. Trump recently hired Tony Sayegh, formerly the... Read More

Lots of No-Shows for Impeachment Inquiry Depositions In The News
Lots of No-Shows for Impeachment Inquiry Depositions

WASHINGTON — Only a fifth of the 104 members on the three House panels that conducted the impeachment inquiry depositions attended and participated in a majority of the proceedings, according to a CQ Roll Call analysis of the available deposition transcripts. The House Intelligence Committee has... Read More

Google, Facebook at Center of Escalating Political-Ad Tension Social Media
Google, Facebook at Center of Escalating Political-Ad Tension

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook Inc. and Google were drawn into an escalating battle of wills Wednesday over the use of political advertising on social media. Trump campaign officials pressured Facebook to maintain its permissive political advertising rules, while Alphabet Inc.’s Google announced an overhaul of how... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top