Wednesday, 23 October, 2019

New Orleans Braces as Storm Barry Nears

Tropical Storm Barry slowly creeps toward Louisiana and a tropical wave arises in Atlantic Tropical Storm Barry gains little more wind speed, expected to strengthen into hurricane Friday
Elijah Vega | 13 July, 2019, 06:53

Barry is forecast to bring a coastal storm surge into the mouth of the Mississippi River that winds through the heart of New Orleans, pushing its crest to 19 feet (5.79m) on Saturday.

"We're going to have all three", Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday in a news conference.

The storm has been forming in the Gulf of Mexico, gathering strength as it prepares to make landfall sometime Friday or early this weekend.

Barry could strengthen to a hurricane, but it's not the high winds that have residents and officials anxious, says Benjamin Scott, with the National Weather Service. Also, the Mississippi River has been flooding.

However, officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the levees, insisted that no significant breaching of the 20-foot-tall levees in New Orleans was likely.

Parts of New Orleans already are underwater with the Mississippi River, which is usually at 6 to 8 feet in midsummer, now at 16 feet.

Authorities took unprecedented precautions: The governor said it was the first time all floodgates were sealed in the New Orleans-area Hurricane Risk Reduction System. It was expected to make landfall along the Louisiana coast - near Morgan City - on Friday night or early Saturday. Conditions along the coast will worsen starting Friday morning.

"The real increased threat from a warming climate is an atmosphere that's capable of producing higher intensity precipitation events", said Jill Trepanier, an expert in extreme climatic and weather events at Louisiana State University.

States of emergency have been declared in the Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and St. Charles parishes, with mandatory evacuations ordered in Jefferson and Plaquesmine parishes.

Many residents aren't eager to endure the expense and effort of leaving, compared with what could be a few uncomfortable hours or days without power. They are not anxious about the wind but rather keeping the water at bay. "I told my son it's better to be safe than sorry", she said. I know the dangers.

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The storm could give New Orleans its worst drenching in decades, possibly eclipsing the city's wettest day on record - 12.24 inches - on May 8, 1995, forecasters said. She still plans to go but stocked up on canned food and water in case her "hurrication" falls through and she has to ride out the storm, she said. He lived through Hurricane Katrina, and like so many residents, isn't taking any chances again.

Not all storms will be wetter as a result of climate change, but on average more of them will, scientists said. "Trauma stays in your body, and Katrina left a lot of trauma behind".

The biggest worry has been the flooding, officials said.

Green group Environment America said there were more than 100 Superfund environmental cleanup sites and 17 oil refineries in the path of the storm.

New Orleans' network of drainage pumps, underground pipes and canals were overwhelmed earlier this week by rain. This could be a major test for the levee system.

"So, I dunno what's gonna happen", says New Orleans business owner Sarah Corsiatto.

Flooding concerns are not limited to Louisiana.

"So here's the takeaway: unsafe situation", he said during an online presentation Thursday.

Tonight will be mainly clear and quiet due to light winds and a low of 76.Friday expect only isolated T-showers very light winds with variable sunshine and a baking hot high of 98.

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