A hurricane alert from the National Weather Service is in effect for Southwest Mississippi, along with other areas of south Mississippi and southeast Louisiana.

A strong low-pressure system over the northern Gulf of Mexico was expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall in south-central Louisiana on Friday, according to Pike County Civil Defense Director Richard Coghlan.

At 10:51 a.m. Wednesday, the system was located about 250 miles east-southeast of New Orleans or about 210 miles southeast of Gulfport with wind speeds of 30 mph moving west-southwest at 8 mph.

If this system’s wind speeds reach 39 mph, which is likely to happen today, it will become Tropical Storm Barry, the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Forecast maps show a potential impact for southwest Mississippi counties as well as counties along the Gulf Coast, with the system swooping up the middle of Louisiana. That puts the storm west of southwest Mississippi, which means the area would be on the most intense side of the system.

Storm surge watches have been issued to many southern Louisiana parishes and municipalities, including New Orleans, where streets flooded amid heavy rains Wednesday morning and the flooded Mississippi River was at 19 feet, leaving just a foot of levee to spare in some areas.

Coghlan said residents should take precautions as the area can expect tropical storm-force winds late Friday night and into the early morning hours on Saturday.

National Weather Service meteorologists warned of heavy rainfall and increased potential for flooding from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the Florida Panhandle through the end of the weekend.

The National Weather Service said severe thunderstorms across the southern and central United States will accompany the system through the weekend as well.

According to the National Weather Service, potential impacts include moderate rainfall and the flooding of rivers and tributaries. Additionally, the area could see dangerous high winds and storm surges.

The weather service was sending a plane into the storm, said Coghlan.

Pike County is far enough from the Gulf of Mexico to avoid potentially devastating storm surge, however, the area around McComb will definitely get wet, Coghlan said.

“This area will probably receive 6-10 inches of rain from this storm,” he said.

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