Residents in New Orleans were breathing a sigh of relief Saturday as Hurricane Barry weakened to a tropical storm after it made landfall in Louisiana. The landfall came after Barry shifted a bit to the west in a move that looks likely to spare New Orleans from some of the massive flooding that forecasters were warning about earlier in the week. The key seems to have been that Barry stayed in the Gulf of Mexico longer than had been expected. That, of course, doesn’t mean the entire region is in the clear. Barry, which had become the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019, is still set to dump a whole lot of rain that could put lives and property at risk. At leat 101,000 cusomters in Louisiana were without power by early Saturday afternoon.
“Life-threatening, significant flash flooding and river flooding will become increasingly likely later today and tonight as Barry moves inland, especially across portions of south-central and southeast Louisiana and Mississippi,” Jack Beven, a senior hurricane specialist wrote in a forecast analysis. “The slow movement of Barry will result in a long duration heavy rainfall and flood threat from Sunday into next week.”
Barry made landfall close to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, which is around 150 miles west of New Orleans. Before that happened, the Coast Guard rescued people from the Isle de Jena Charles, where some residents took refuge on their roofs. Now experts are predicting as much as 25 inches of rain in some parts of southern Louisiana and Mississippi which could cause lots of flooding in certain areas. In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell warned residents against getting complacent because flooding is still a threat. “We are not out of the conditions that will cause heavy rainfall for the city of New Orleans,” Cantrell said. Despite the warnings, experts are estimated Barry could swell the Mississippi River to about 17 feet, which would still be the highest level since 1995 but almost three feet below previous forecasts.
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