By ALAN SMASON
Hurricane Barry made landfall as expected near Intracoastal City, LA early Saturday morning, July 13, the first hurricane to hit Louisiana since Issac in 2012 and the first July hurricane since Cindy in 2005. The slow-moving storm jogged towards the west, sparing the New Orleans metropolitan area much of what was initially feared in terms of flooding and power outages.
Nevertheless, Barry dumped several inches of rain on the south central Louisiana coastline, triggering dangerous floods and an elevated storm surge that over topped levee structures.
The storm, which had sustained winds of 75 m.p.h. at landfall, lost much of its punch as it moved inward, but after nearly 24 hours of battering the state, it still registered sustained winds of 45 m.p.h. with several hours more to go before the threat to New Orleans from potential flash flooding was slated to subside.
Barry triggered several tornado warnings Saturday night on both the north and south shores of Lake Pontchartrain and into Mississippi, but most of the affected areas were remote and no noteworthy damage was reported.
Despite earlier predictions of as much as 6-12 inches of rain, the metropolitan area was spared of much of the downpours that hit neighboring coastal cities to the east in Mississippi and Alabama all day Saturday. Areas closer to the storm’s center, like Houma, also took a battering with many power lines downed due to falling trees and high winds. Entergy and CLECO officials estimate that 150,000 customers are without power early Sunday morning.
City officials asked citizens to hunker down in place at their homes as the storm is expected to take at least until Sunday afternoon to clear the city’s borders. Barry continues moving northward at 8 m.p.h.
Officials at Louis Armstrong International Airport shut down their facility yesterday, although several flights did land late Saturday night. The airport is expected to return with limited service this morning.