Tropical Storm Barry threat increases

Dry air and wind shear kept Tropical Storm Barry from becoming better organized throughout the day and night on Thursday.  However, authorities tracking the storm say conditions will favor strengthening of the storm through the day Friday and that it does have the potential to make landfall near Morgan City as a minimal strength hurricane with heavy rains and 75 m.p.h. winds on Saturday. 

National Hurricane Center’s map of the expected effects of high winds from Tropical Storm Barry. (N.O.A.A.)

Authorities say the biggest threat from the storm is still from the heavy rains and flash flooding that may be generated by the showers and thundershowers  as the system moves slowly across the area at 5 m.p.h. The Greater New Orleans metropolitan area is under a Tropical Storm Warning, while areas further westward are under a Hurricane Warning.

Rainfall amounts of 10-15 inches are expected for the Greater New Orleans area, while areas in Morgan City, Houma and Baton Rouge should see as much as 15-20 inches. Sustained winds will increase during the day today and tomorrow from 25- 45 m.p.h. with gusts as high as 65 m.p.h. 

In addition, a storm surge of 3-5 feet could be pushed into metropolitan areas and the Mississippi River, already at historic high levels, could see a spike to 19 feet, one foot below what is considered flood level.

Power outages across the region are to be expected. All but essential city services  except for those involved with essential and emergency services will be suspended during the passage of the storm.

States of emergencies have been declared by Mayor LaToya Cantrell for the City of New Orleans, Jefferson Parish president Mike Yenni and Louisiana Governor John Bel Williams on Wednesday in advance of the storm. President Trump approved the emergency declaration on Thursday night, freeing up federal funds and resources including FEMA to be put into place before the storm makes landfall.

Jefferson Parish officials also called for a mandatory evacuation for Grand Isle, Crown Point, Barataria and lower Lafitte at noon on Thursday. Earlier, Plaquemines Parish officials also imposed a mandatory evacuation for its residents, while Lafourche Parish officials asked their residents to voluntarily evacuate in advance while conditions were good and roads were still open.

Sewerage and Water Board executive director Ghassan Korban indicated they will be ready with 118 out of 120 pumps to deal with moving the expected floodwaters out of the city. Yenni announced that with the exception of one pump, 343 out of 344 total are online and ready.

Both Jewish Community Centers, including the Goldring-Woldenberg campus in Metairie that houses the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans will remain closed through the weekend while the storm moves inland.

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