Nation

Dave Epstein

Gulf Coast gets ready for a big hit from Tropical Storm Barry

People walk past Brennan's restaurant in the French Quarter with sandbags on the front door as bands of rain from Tropical Storm Barry from the Gulf of Mexico move into New Orleans, La., Friday, July 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
Matthew Hinton/Associated Press
People walked past Brennan's restaurant in the French Quarter with sandbags on the front door as bands of rain from Tropical Storm Barry from the Gulf of Mexico move into New Orleans, La., Friday.

Tropical Storm Barry is forecast to make landfall late Friday night or early Saturday across the Gulf Coast. It’s not the wind that is the main concern; once again, we have one of those very slow-moving tropical entities which will produce massive amounts of rainfall over a long duration.

There’s an outside chance that some areas could see more than two feet of rain. This would be devastating.

More than a foot of rain is expected in much of Mississippi and Lousianna over the weekend.
NOAA
More than a foot of rain is expected in much of Mississippi and Lousianna over the weekend.

We seen this before across portions of the Gulf Coast. A storm can be categorized as merely a tropical storm or a minimal hurricane, but can leave behind extensive damage and disrupt lives across a wide swath.

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While we have had a relatively tranquil spring and summer, water levels across the Mississippi River are at very high levels for the time of year. Typically the Mississippi around the New Orleans area is between 6 and 8 feet; presently, it’s a whopping 16 feet. That’s why officials are so concerned.

Hurricane warnings are posted for parts of the Gulf Coast.
National Hurricane Center
Hurricane warnings are posted for parts of the Gulf Coast.
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The map below shows an example of just how large of an area is forecast to receive significant flooding. Some areas around New Orleans are protected by levees, but if there’s enough water the levees can be breached, as they were during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Many areas around Lousianna are at risk for a foot or more of water as Barry moves ashore.
NOAA
Much of the Gulf Coast region is at risk for a foot or more of water as Barry moves ashore.

The rain may reach New England, but even if not we could still feel an impact as oil production is affected across the Gulf of Mexico. It looks as if the moisture from the system will end up in the middle of the country early next week. Whether or not a system coming down from Canada can capture this moisture and bring it into New England remains questionable. If we are going to see the moisture it would be late next week or early next weekend.

Projections made Thursday say Barry will make landfall early Saturday morning.
National Hurricane Center
Projections made Thursday say Barry will make landfall early Saturday morning.

We are only six weeks into hurricane season, and there is still plenty of time left for systems to form, and of course New England always might be affected.

Follow Dave Epstein on Twitter @growingwisdom.