Hurricane Barry has made landfall and is hurtling its way through Louisiana, bringing torrential downpours and powerful winds which have caused widespread flooding and flight cancellations with experts branding the weather event ‘life threatening.’
The Category 1 Hurricane, which is the first of the year, first made its presence felt in Morgan City, west of New Orleans, with a storm surge warning in effect along coastal cities and the possible risk of tornadoes in parts of Mississippi.
As all flights in and out of Louis Armstrong International Airport were cancelled, with winds reaching 76 mph and becoming stronger throughout the day.
Hurricane-force winds were measured some 45 miles to the east of the storm’s center, which was located 40 miles south of Lafayette, Louisiana. Though expected to be a weak hurricane, Barry threatened to bring disastrous flooding across a swath of the Gulf Coast.
A man walks out to a flooded road near Lake Pontchartrain as Hurricane Barry approaches in Mandeville, Louisiana. The National Hurricane Center warned the storm is a ‘life-threatening situation’ with flooding expected to cause the most damage
A car drives through a flooded road near Lake Pontchartrain as Tropical Storm Barry approaches in Mandeville, Louisiana. Hurricane Barry is predicted to make landfall on the Louisiana coast soon
A tidal surge pushed water into the residential area of lower Lafitte in Jefferson Parish with more flooding expected later
Landfall predictions were pushed back from sunrise to late morning or early afternoon, as the hurricane crawled across the Gulf Coast at about 5mph, forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said Saturday.
‘This is a life-threatening situation,’ the National Hurricane Center said, noting that storm surge could bring 3 to 6 feet of water inland to an area from the mouth of the Atchafalaya River, some 60 miles south of Baton Rouge, to Shell Beach 20 miles southeast of New Orleans.
National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham said Barry is gathering ‘a big slough of moisture’ just off the central Louisiana coast and is taking its time to come ashore Saturday morning, meaning “a lot of rain is on the way.”
Graham delivered a storm update using Facebook Live from the hurricane center, where he pointed to a computer screen showing a big swirling mass of airborne water. ‘That is just an amazing amount of moisture. That is off the chart.’
He said the eye of the hurricane is moving so slowly that heavy rain will likely continue throughout the weekend across Louisiana. As of 10 am, Barry was just under 50 miles from the coast, with landfall expected late this morning or early this afternoon in Vermillion Bay.
He said there is a high tornado threat is on the east side of the storm, along the Mississippi coast, and Mobile Bay. And the Mississippi River isn’t the only waterway to worry about as other rivers and creeks will be overflowing across several states.
Barry is currently bringing heavy rains, a potential storm surge and flooding that pose a threat reminiscent of 2005’s deadly Hurricane Katrina. A satellite image above shows Barry on its approach towards the cost at 11 am
Hurricane-force winds were measured some 45 miles to the east of the storm’s center, which was located 40 miles south of Lafayette. An image captured strong waves on Lake Pontchartrain where residents and visitors were urged to stay indoors
Benches and walkways are flooded by water along the Berwick River in Morgan City, Louisiana, as rainfall hits the area
Chris Ladner walks through a flooded area near Lake Pontchartrain as hurricane Barry approaches in Mandeville, Louisiana
Aimee Cutter, the owner of Beach House restaurant, walks through water surge from Lake Pontchartrain on Lakeshore Drive
Graham reminded viewers that ’83 percent of fatalities from these systems have been from inland rain. So let’s stay off the roads. Let’s prevent these preventable fatalities.’
Authorities claimed water is flowing over the tops of a few levees in areas south of New Orleans as Tropical Storm Barry nears the coast. Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser told WVUE-TV anyone who remains south of Myrtle Grove should evacuate from the finger of low-lying, flood prone land that follows the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.
A testing day began with on and off rain, power outages and people using cellphones to see in the dark and opening doors and windows to let the warm, sticky tropical air circulate.
Barry is currently bringing heavy rains, a potential storm surge and flooding that pose a threat reminiscent of 2005’s deadly Hurricane Katrina, which is testing weather defense infrastructure installed by authorities at the time.
Authorities told at least 10,000 people in exposed, low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast to leave, but no evacuations were ordered in New Orleans, where officials urged residents to ‘shelter in place.’
United States Army vehicles are prepared with supplies outside the Ernest N. Mortal Convention Center in New Orleans ahead of Hurricane Barry
Six truck trailers are loaded with water and ready to eat meals, which are ready for distribution to residents who cannot leave their homes early on Saturday afternoon
Residents and business owners were laying down sandbags and boarding up windows while city officials set up shelters
In Morgan City, the streets were empty as heavy rain fell. The Atchafalaya River had flooded its banks, and trees were already blown over in residential areas.
The storm was only moving at five miles an hour, meaning landfall could be a while off.
‘It’s painstakingly slow,’ government meteorologist Ben Schott told CNN, noting that residents should not be lulled into complacency about facing the storm.
‘If you don’t have to go anywhere, stay home. Monitor what’s going on. Do not put yourself at risk.’
In New Orleans, residents and business owners were laying down sandbags and boarding up windows while city officials set up shelters for residents.
But local revelers and tourists drank ‘hurricane’ cocktails and sang arm in arm as they walked down Bourbon Street late Friday, ignoring warnings from Mayor LaToya Cantrell to stay indoors.
The weather event was upgraded to hurricane status at 11 am, with flooding from rain expected to bring the biggest threat
The usually bustling stalls of the The French Market in French Quarter stands empty ahead of Hurricane Barry on Saturday
No evacuations were ordered in New Orleans, but officials urged residents to ‘shelter in place’ and businesses remain closed
The thoroughfare of Canal Street in Downtown Near Orleans lies empty on Saturday morning as Barry approached land
Decatur Street in New Orlean’s French Quarter was a ghost town as people stayed indoors and businesses closed Saturday
On Saturday, Cantrell again urged caution, saying: ‘A lot of the rain won’t happen until after landfall.’
Rain bands were already hitting the coast before sunrise, and more than 56,000 homes and businesses in Louisiana were without power, according to tracking site PowerOutage.us.
The edges of the storm lashed Louisiana and coastal Mississippi and Alabama with rain, leaving some roads underwater overnight.
Louisiana is facing an extraordinarily dangerous confluence of conditions, experts according to experts.
The level of the Mississippi River, already swollen from historic rains and flooding upstream, was at nearly 17 feet in New Orleans — just below flood stage.
U.S. Coast Guard rescues 12 people trapped by flooding on a Louisiana island
The U.S. Coast Guard is rescuing 12 people that were stranded on Isle de Jean Charles on Saturday morning.
Initial reports came in around 4.30 am of 12 people in distress along Island Road, the only way in and out of Isle de Jean Charles, a Coast Guard spokesperson said.
Four elderly people were rescued by helicopter, and the remaining eight are in the process of being rescued by boat.
Isle de Jean Charles is a narrow stretch of land near the southern coast of Terrebonne Parish about 45 minutes from Houma, Louisiana.
Terrebonne Parrish placed the island under a voluntary evacuation and the only two-lane road to it was cut off by floodwaters.
The island is the home of the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe and is part of the southern Louisiana bayous threatened by rising sea levels.
Officials claimed that after the rescues are conducted, the Coast Guard will take people to the Houma-Terrebonne Airport, where they will be evaluated for injuries.
The narrow strip of land was once 12 miles long and five miles wide. But due to rising sea levels, the island is now less than two miles long and just a quarter-mile wide.
River levels are expected to peak at just over 17 feet, according to Saturday’s forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
US Senator Bill Cassidy said officials with the Army Corps of Engineers told him they were “confident” that the 20-foot-high levee system protecting New Orleans, a city of 400,000, would hold.
‘There’s still going to be two to three feet between the top of the levee and the top of the floodwaters,’ Cassidy told Fox News.
The National Weather Service said Saturday morning: ‘Regardless of whether Barry remains a tropical storm or becomes a hurricane, water is the main hazard from this storm.
‘Life-threatening storm surge and inland freshwater flooding is expected. Please take this seriously.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard said it was in the process of rescuing more than a dozen people stranded on a remote Louisiana island by flooding from Tropical Storm Barry.
Petty Officer Lexie Preston said some of the people were on rooftops Saturday on the Isle de Jean Charles, about 45 miles south of New Orleans.
Preston told reporters that the rescue is ongoing and four people and a cat have been taken from the island on a helicopter. She said a boat is also heading to the area to help get the rest of the people off the island.
Preston says she does not know the condition of the people rescued. Terrebonne Parrish placed the island under a voluntary evacuation and the only two-lane road to it was cut off by floodwaters.
The island is the home of the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe and is part of the southern Louisiana bayous threatened by rising sea levels.
The storm is expected to inflict the most damage on Louisiana and parts of Mississippi, with wind and rain affecting more than 3 million people.
Late Friday night, residents received good news from forecasters, as the Mississippi River is expected to crest in New Orleans at about 17.1 feet on Monday, not 19 feet as had been earlier predicted. The levees protecting the city range from about 20 to 25 feet in height.
On-again, off again tropical showers hit New Orleans overnight. As day broke, the streets in the famous French Quarter tourist district were barely damp.
Barry can be seen barreling towards the coast of New Orleans on Saturday morning as the city battened down the hatches
A National Hurricane center map shows Storm Barry developing just after 4am on Saturday morning off the Louisiana Coast
It was breezy, but flags on balconies overhanging the empty streets still occasionally fell limp, with a couple of motorists braving the hazardous weather conditions by driving on the roads.
Forecasters warned most of the storm’s rain remained over the Gulf of Mexico and would likely move into Louisiana and Mississippi later on Saturday.
There were predictions of 10 to 20 inches of rain through Sunday across a swath of Louisiana that includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge with some parts of the state possible getting 25 inches.
‘It’s powerful. It’s strengthening. And water is going to be a big issue,’ National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned.
Governors declared emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi, and authorities took unprecedented precautions in closing floodgates and raising the barriers around New Orleans.
The Mississippi Port Authority at Gulfport was feeling the effects of the storm surge as its docks were submerged in water
Menacing clouds are seen over the sky over Lake Pontchartrain on Lakeshore Drive as some flooding was reported in the city
Parts of the road along Louisiana Highway 1 were flooded with some cars submerged in water. This footage was taken by the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office on Saturday morning
There were no cars on Crescent City Connection bridge in New Orleans on Saturday morning as motorists were advised to avoid non-essential travel
Governor John Bel Edwards said it was the first time all floodgates were sealed in the New Orleans-area Hurricane Risk Reduction System since Katrina. He said he didn’t expect the Mississippi River to spill over the levees despite water levels already running high from spring rains and melting snow upstream.
‘No one should take this storm lightly, and I urge everyone to remain informed,’ Edwards said on Twitter.
If the storm becomes a hurricane, it would be the first of the Atlantic season, which runs from June to November. ‘My concerns are just hoping it’s not going to be another Katrina,’ said Donald Wells, a restaurant cook in New Orleans.
Scores of people packed stores to stock up on bottled water, food and other essentials as people were evacuated some areas.
Lifelong New Orleans resident Terrence Williams grabbed supplies at a Costco, saying he has a few simple rules for big storms.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it was in the process of rescuing more than a dozen people stranded on a remote Louisiana island by flooding from Hurricane Barry. Pictured above is a helicopter as it rescues people on the Isle de Jean Charles
Terrebonne Parrish placed the island under a voluntary evacuation and the only two-lane road to it was cut off by floodwaters
The storm is expected to inflict the most damage on Louisiana and Mississippi, with wind and rain affecting 3 million people
‘Stock up on water. Stock up food. Get ready for the storm – ride it out,’ he said.
At least one couple scrapped their carefully planned Saturday wedding in favor of moving up the ceremony .
‘We realized we had a marriage license, two rings … and we didn’t really want to wait any longer,’ Associated Press photographer Gerald Herbert said before marrying Lucy Sikes on Friday, before the storm hit.
Workers also shored up and raised the levee system in places with beams, sheet metal and other barriers.
Rescue crews and about 3,000 National Guard troops were posted around Louisiana with boats, high-water vehicles and helicopters. President Donald Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, authorizing federal agencies to coordinate relief efforts.
Clouds are seen over the Central Business District at dawn as Tropical Storm Barry approaches in New Orleans Saturday as residents were advised by authorities to stay indoors and evacuate homes and businesses in low-lying areas
The Interstate 10 in New Orleans was nearly empty ans the eye of Tropical Storm Barry bared down on the Louisiana Coast
Tropical showers hit New Orleans overnight. The streets in the famous French Quarter tourist district were damp and empty
The National Weather Service said at 8 am Saturday that the bulk of rainfall expected appeared to still be offshore, with the worst of the weather making its presence felt at landfall
The impending hurricane also triggered a legal spat between neighboring parishes. East Baton Rouge Parish won a temporary restraining order against the AquaDams that Iberville Parish planned to deploy along Bayou Manchac.
A federal judge ruled Friday night that the water-filled flood control barriers could cause substantial property damage and loss of life in East Baton Rouge.
Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent storms and flooding, but without extensive study, they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.
Tracking forecasts showed the storm moving toward Chicago, swelling the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.
Before the worst of the storm, Kaci Douglas and her 15-year-old son, Juan Causey, were among dozens filling sandbags at a fire station in Baton Rouge. She planned to use them to shore up the door of her townhouse.
Heavy rains and gusty winds knocked out power on the Gulf Coast as a strengthening Tropical Storm Barry churned a path to shore on Saturday morning. The latest satellite image, (above), shows Barry barreling towards Louisiana
By early Saturday the storm was packing winds of 70 miles per hour, just shy of hurricane strength, and around 120 miles southwest of New Orleans, according to the National Hurricane Center
As dawn approached Saturday, more than 45,000 people in southern Louisiana had lost power. In New Orleans, thousands packed up and left their homes as flood waters hit low-lying areas like Plaquemines Parish
‘I told my son, it’s better to be safe than sorry,’ she said.
In New Orleans, a group of neighbors cleaned out the storm drains on their street. Working together to lift off the heavy metal covers, they discovered that most of the drains were full of dirt, leaves and garbage.
All over town, people parked their cars on the city’s medians – referred to by locals as “neutral grounds” – in hopes their vehicles would be safe on the slightly elevated strips.
After Katrina was blamed for more than 1,800 deaths, by some estimates, the Army Corps of Engineers began a multibillion-dollar hurricane-protection system that isn’t complete. The work included repairs and improvements to some 350 miles of levees and more than 70 pumping stations.
It was estimated on Saturday that the total damage and economic loss caused by Tropical Storm Barry could reach $8 to $10 billion. This is based on an analysis of damages expected from flooding caused by heavy rainfall over several states and a storm surge.
Though expected to be a weak hurricane – just barely over the 74 mph wind speed threshold – it threatened disastrous flooding across a swath of the Gulf Coast as water levels and wave strengths rose along coastal towns and cities
With Barry threatening massive rainfall across several southern states, federal emergency declarations were issued to help free up resources to address the storm
Rescue crews and about 3,000 National Guard troops were posted around Louisiana with boats and high-water vehicles
According to estimates by AccuWeather, the cost includes damage to homes and businesses, as well as their contents and cars, farm and crop losses, contamination of drinking water wells and infrastructure damage.
Mike Yenni, president of Jefferson Parish near New Orleans, said the community had taken the “unprecedented” step of closing hundreds of flood gates, largely due to the high levels of the Mississippi.
In St. John’s Parish next to New Orleans, some communities were under two or more feet of water, local television footage showed.
Grand Isle, one of the inhabited barrier islands east of the storm’s likely path, suffered a full power outage Friday which brought crucial pumping stations to a halt, authorities said.
Residents and business owners in New Orleans were laying down sand bags and boarding up windows while city officials set up shelters for residents.
In 2005, Katrina — the costliest and deadliest hurricane in US history — submerged about 80 percent of New Orleans, causing some 1,800 deaths and more than $150 billion in damage.
The city’s main sports arena, the Superdome, was turned into an emergency shelter during Katrina. The facility was due to host a concert by the Rolling Stones on Sunday, but it was postponed by a day due to Barry.
‘We’re here with you — we’ll get through this together,’ the band said in a statement.