Thousands lose power as Tropical Storm Barry nears Louisiana
14 July, 2019, 17:44
And video showed water getting over a second levee in Plaquemines Parish, where fingers of land extend deep into the Gulf of Mexico.
Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the levees, have insisted that no significant breaching of the six-metre-high levees in New Orleans was likely.
As of late Saturday night, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (80 kph) and was centered 35 miles (56 kilometers) southwest of Alexandria. It is expected to weaken again and become a tropical depression on Sunday.
While the storm has - and may continue to - cause problems for the Gulf Coast, New Orleans is not at risk for some of the dangers officials predicted before the storm hit.
Its heaviest rain on Saturday and Saturday night focused in southern MS and Alabama where up to three to seven inches fell. People used cellphones to see in the dark, and opened doors and windows to let the warm, sticky tropical air circulate.
Barry rolled into the Louisiana coast, flooding highways, forcing people to scramble to rooftops and dumping heavy rain that could test the levees and pumps that were bolstered after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.
During a storm update through Facebook Live, Graham pointed to a computer screen showing a huge, swirling mess of airborne water.
"This is just the beginning", said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. "That is off the chart".
Despite the flooding concern, however, New Orleans experienced only light rain and winds on Saturday, and no flooding.
Weather experts said this Saturday morning, the storm was upgraded to a hurricane, and residents are now sheltering in place. It's also disrupted ship traffic on the Mississippi River, where water levels are rising.
Parts of Dauphin Island, a barrier island in Alabama 322 kilometres from where Barry was headed, were flooded both by rain and surging water from the Gulf, said Mayor Jeff Collier, who was driving around in a Humvee to survey damage.
More than 3.6 million people along the Louisiana coast are under some sort of tropical or hurricane watch or warning as of Saturday, while more than 3,000 Louisiana National Guardsman stand ready to assist.
"I do want to clear up a little bit of misinformation going around: The overtopping that has occurred in Plaquemines Parish is not the MS levee", Edwards said Saturday in a CNN report.
Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) plans to run its 502,500 barrel-per-day (bpd) Baton Rouge, Louisiana, refinery through Barry's expected slow move across the state this weekend, said sources familiar with plant operations.
In Mississippi, up to 3 inches (7.6 centimetres) of rain had already fallen in the Jackson area before dawn Sunday - and more was on the way.
Due to the Hurricane Emergency Center declaring that the storm was "strengthening" and that "water is going to be a big issue", the governors of Louisiana and MS have declared a state of emergency.
Flash flood watches cover all but the northwest portion of Louisiana, the entirety of MS and much of eastern Arkansas where widespread rainfall totals of at least 2 to 4 inches are predicted while small pockets over 10 inches are possible.
The Mississippi River crested on Friday night in New Orleans at just under 17 feet (5.18 metres), the National Weather Service said, much lower than a prediction earlier this week of 20 feet (6.1 metres), near the height of the city's levees. The system is built to hold out storm surge of about 30 feet (9 meters) where the city's boundaries meet the swamps and lakes near the Gulf of Mexico.
While New Orleans authorities refrained from ordering evacuations and advised residents to shelter in place instead, tourism officials reported an exodus of hotel guests checking out early on Friday.
Residents of Mandeville, just north of New Orleans, were also impacted.
New Orleans was already saturated after thunderstorms drenched the city with a foot of rain on Wednesday.
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