Residents along the coast of Louisiana are bracing for a significant storm as Tropical Storm Barry stews in the Gulf of Mexico, gaining strength as it slowly churns towards land. Barry is moving at just five miles-per-hour and is not expected to make landfall until Friday night or Saturday. Forecasters are predicting it will be a Category One storm with wind speeds over 75 miles-per-hour when it hits the coast.
The big issue isn't the winds, it is the torrential rains the slow-moving storm is expected to bring. The National Hurricane Center says that some areas could receive as much as 20 inches of rain. In New Orleans, residents can expect to see between ten to 15 inches of rain through Sunday.
"The slow movement of this system will result in a long duration heavy rainfall threat along the central Gulf Coast and inland through the lower Mississippi Valley through the weekend and potentially into next week," the National Hurricane Center warned.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for parts of Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes, and people were ordered to leave Grand Isle, one of the barrier islands that is just south of New Orleans.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell also declared a state of emergency but does not plan to order evacuations. She advised residents to remain at home and have at least three days worth of supplies on hand.
Some streets in New Orleans have already begun to flood as the storm dumped nearly eight inches of rain in just three hours. Officials say that new pumps that were installed after Hurricane Katrina are good to go, but cautioned they may not be able to keep up with the heavy rainfall.
"We cannot pump our way out of the water levels ... that are expected to hit the city of New Orleans," Cantrell said.
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