Tropical Storm Barry forms in Gulf; track includes New Orleans

Fig. 5 WPC’s 7-day precipitation forecast

The National Hurricane Center predicts that a tropical storm is expected to form in the Gulf of Mexico by Thursday and strengthen to a hurricane by the weekend.

Disappointing U.S. crude inventories and the looming storm in the Gulf of Mexico which may disrupt oil production, among others, contributed to the upswing, experts noted. The system is projected to make landfall late Friday or early Saturday, and here's Weather Nation's current satellite image.

At 1000 AM CDT (1500 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Barry was located near latitude 27.8 North, longitude 88.7 West. Barry is moving toward the west near 5 miles per hour (7 km/h) and this motion is expected to continue today.

"This is going to be a slow storm", Gulliver-Garcia told the AP.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who declared an emergency earlier in the week as the storm brewed in the Gulf of Mexico, warned that the storm's blow could form a unsafe combination with the already-high Mississippi River, which has been swelled by heavy rain and snowmelt upriver this spring.

KPRC2 reporters Jonathan Martinez and Brandon Walker are in Louisiana covering Tropical Storm Barry.

"The HWRF and HMON forecast Barry to move generally northward across southeastern Louisiana, while the UKMET and the UKMET ensemble mean take the cyclone to the upper Texas coast", the hurricane center said in its 4 p.m. discussion.

In Plaquemines Parish, Justice of the Peace David McGaha waited with his mother, his wife and their 15-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter for a ferry so they could evacuate to his mother's house in Alabama.

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The Mississippi River has already been swollen for months and now could see an additional 18 inches of rain by Monday, forecasters said.

Water pumps already were working at capacity after heavy rains, she said.

"It's really the river that has us anxious", said Betsey Hazard, saying she feared it could top the nearby levee. Forecasters hiked up rain projections on Thursday afternoon, saying 10-20 inch amounts will be possible, and isolated areas could get up to 25 inches. "I'm proud of our dedicated City crews who are leaving their families and heading into the storm on the Louisiana delta to aid our fellow Americans", Mayor John Dailey said.

Even before becoming Barry, the disturbance unexpectedly dropped enough rain on New Orleans that residents were kayaking down city streets.

However, the city did not plan to order evacuations because Barry was so close and because it was not expected to grow into a major hurricane.

In 2005, Katrina - the costliest and deadliest hurricane in United States history - submerged some 80 percent of New Orleans as its flood defenses gave way.

In its aftermath, the Army Corps of Engineers began a multibillion-dollar hurricane-protection system that isn't complete. The work included repairs and improvements to some 350 miles (563.24 kilometers) of levees and more than 70 pump stations that are used to remove floodwaters.

The lower MS is forecast to peak at 19 feet (5.9 m) on Saturday, the highest it has been since 1950 when it nearly reached 20 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

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