Tropical Storm Barry is continuing to strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico as it moves slowly toward land. Barry is expected to develop into a hurricane and directly hit the Gulf Coast by tomorrow (July 13). More than two million people live in areas where advisories and warnings are in effect. Far more people will experience rain as Barry moves inland.
According to NOAA, the storm system currently has winds reaching 65 mph. But the truly dangerous element of this storm is the amount of rain it’s going to dump over the southern states.
Parts of Louisiana and Mississippi are expected to get between 10 and 20 inches of rain, with some areas at risk of getting as much as 25 inches, according to NOAA. Forecasters say Barry is moving slowly, meaning that the rain will just keep on coming for long stretches of time. You can track Barry’s real-time progress here.
Here’s what you need to know.
Morgan City, Louisiana & Approximately 11,000 Residents Are Anticipating a Direct Hit
The National Weather Service is expecting Barry to have strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane by the time it reaches land. The first community bracing for a direct hit is Morgan City, Louisiana.
Morgan City is located about 80 miles southwest of New Orleans. According to 2018 census data, the city has about 11,000 residents.
The city’s mayor, Frank Grizzaffi, told the New York Times on Thursday that community members were busy stocking up on supplies, making sure generators are working and filling sandbags as they waited for Barry to hit. “We’ve been dodging the bullet for the last 10 years. Every time a hurricane comes up, it’s somewhere near Morgan City. This time, I think we’re finally going to get it.” The city was spared major damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and again in 2008 when Gustav and Ike hit the state.
Despite the threat of a direct hit, Morgan City residents have not been told to evacuate. Mayor Grizzaffi told local New Orleans radio station WWL on Friday that he feels confident the city and its residents will be able to safely ride out the storm. “Morgan City is pretty blessed to have one of the best flood protected areas on the coast, and we’re protected on one side by the federal levee system, which is good for 23 feet. We just close the gates and we’re good to go.”
More Than Two Million People Are In Areas Under Watches or Advisories
The National Weather Service is warning that the slow movement of the storm is the biggest threat from Tropical Storm Barry. The Service posted on Twitter on Friday afternoon that heavy rainfall is expected “along the central Gulf Coast and well inland through the weekend and into early next week. Flooding will become increasingly likely, some of which may be significant.”
Storm surge warnings and watches, Hurricane watches, and Tropical Storm watches and warnings are in effect across the south, according to NOAA. Approximately 2 million people are living in areas already under these warnings, as reported by USA Today.
But judging by the projected path of the storm, far more people than that will feel the impact of Tropical Storm Barry. The National Weather Service shared the above map, which shows that Barry is expected to travel over the entire state of Louisiana and Arkansas through Monday. The storm is expected to pass over parts of Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana on Tuesday and Wednesday.
NOAA has also warned that the effects of the storm will be felt far outside the center of the storm. Communities in the Florida Panhandle, Upper Texas Coast and southern Alabama have been encouraged to keep a close eye on the storm’s progress.