Pike County could see close to a foot of rain and winds of about 30 mph this weekend from Tropical Storm Barry, which became a named storm on Thursday as it gained strength over the Gulf of Mexico ahead of an anticipated tonight or Saturday morning landfall.
The National Weather Service in New Orleans confirmed the second named storm of the 2019 hurricane season formed at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Tropical Storm Barry is expected to make landfall over the central or southeastern Louisiana Gulf Coast by tonight or Saturday morning, possibly as a Category 1 hurricane.
Officials from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said residents in the southern part of the state need to be prepared for heavy rain, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast may see storm surges greater than three feet.
At 4 p.m. Thursday, Barry was located about 180 miles south-southeast of New Orleans, or about 90 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 180 miles south of Gulfport, moving west at 5 mph with wind speeds of 40 mph.
Pike County Civil Defense Director Richard Coghlan said the area can expect rain showers all throughout the day today and more severe weather as Barry approaches landfall.
“By Friday night things will start deteriorating,” he said Thursday.
Coghlan said Pike County could receive strong winds of 30 mph or greater all throughout Saturday and close to a foot of rain.
“We are expecting 6-10 inches of rain to fall on Pike County on Friday and Saturday with three inches added Sunday,” he said.
Forecasts show that the storm is expected to continue to track west through the end of Friday before turning northwest early Saturday morning. This plots the path of Barry’s eye over central Louisiana and due west of New Orleans, McComb and Jackson.
A National Weather Service storm model showed southern and central Louisiana could receive most of the damage.
The system is predicted to reach hurricane strength before hitting the central Louisiana coastline, then lose energy after making landfall.
At 5 a.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service expanded a flash flood watch to areas of southern Mississippi including Pike, Amite, Walthall, Wilkinson and Pearl River counties through Sunday morning. Louisiana parishes under a flash flood watch included East Feliciana, Tangipahoa, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, Washington and West Feliciana.
Residents in these areas can expect between 7 and 15 inches of precipitation through the end of the weekend with isolated showers dumping up to 20 inches. Friday will most likely bring rain showers, thunderstorms and gusts of wind as strong as 50 mph. Tornadoes could form across southern Louisiana and Mississippi.
Potential impacts to southern Mississippi include the severe flooding of rivers, tributaries and other bodies of water due to extreme rainfall.
Barry’s arrival adds complications to New Orleans, which remained flooded on Thursday morning after heavy rainfall and was warily watching a swollen Mississippi River, which was above 16 feet. The Mississippi is expected to surge to 19 feet when Barry hits, according to the National Weather Service. Levees along the city are 20 feet high and lower in some places. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said that authorities do not anticipate that the river will overtop the levees, however.
While Bary may only reach the intensity of a Category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall, it has already hit the Louisiana Gulf Coast particularly hard.
Louisiana officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for the east bank of Plaquemines Parish at 6 a.m. Thursday. Other areas are already under a mandatory evacuation order, including parts of the west bank between the Oakville floodgate and Venice to the south.
Edwards said 28 parishes throughout Louisiana have issued emergency declarations as of Thursday morning and that 14 more are in the process of completing theirs. He expects more parishes to follow suit in the coming days, he said.
Edwards declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on Wednesday afternoon before requesting a federal emergency declaration.
Nearly half of the oil and gas production capacity in and around the Gulf of Mexico has been shut down due to Tropical Storm Barry, according to a release from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement of the Department of the Interior.