Rainfall threatens Louisiana as Tropical Storm Barry moves inland

Around the South

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Gov. John Bel Edwards is urging residents to stay “vigilant” as forecasters expect life-threatening flash floods to occur across parts of south Louisiana overnight.

During a news conference Saturday night, Edwards said that even though the Tropical Storm Barry’s winds may have weakened, the threat of rain is significant.

He says impacted areas could stretch from the New Orleans area to Lafayette, which is 120 miles (193 kilometers) to the west.

The Democratic governor says he spoke to President Donald Trump on the phone Saturday. He says Trump told him he was “pulling for” Louisiana and would ensure the state receives necessary aid.

7:20 p.m.

A National Weather Service forecaster says New Orleans may dodge the heaviest rainfall from Tropical Storm Barry.

Robert Ricks said Saturday evening that the city is now forecast to receive between 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain through Sunday, with some local areas getting a little more. Forecasters had earlier said New Orleans could get up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain, raising concerns that it would overwhelm the city’s antiquated pumping system for street drainage.

Ricks cautioned, however, that it was too early to say for certain that New Orleans was in the clear.

Ricks said forecasters were also downgrading their rainfall estimates for Baton Rouge to between 6 and 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) through Sunday, with up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) in some spots.

As of Saturday evening, the storm was about 55 miles (89 kilometers) northwest of Lafayette, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (97 kph).

5:25 p.m.

New Orleans’ mayor is urging city residents not to let their guard down as Tropical Storm Barry weakens and moves farther inland.

Forecasters had worried that flooding rains from the storm would start hitting the city as early as Friday night. But Saturday was largely calm in New Orleans. There were intermittent bands of rain and gusty winds, but no flooding as of Saturday evening.

Still, city officials say a flash flood watch has been extended until Sunday at 7 p.m. Mayor LaToya Cantrell says New Orleans residents “are not out of the woods with this system.”

Barry has caused numerous problems along Louisiana’s coast – including overtopping of levees that protect communities in Plaquemines, St. Mary and Terrebonne parishes.

4:50 p.m.

Tropical Storm Barry’s winds have weakened and the Louisiana coast is no longer under a hurricane warning.

The National Hurricane Center said Saturday afternoon that the storm’s maximum sustained winds have fallen to 65 mph (105 kph). Officials expect Barry to weaken and become a tropical depression Sunday as it moves inland, meaning its winds would fall below 39 mph (63 kph).

Still, the center continues to warn of dangerous storm surge, heavy rains and strong winds.

The hurricane warning that had been in effect from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle has been downgraded to a tropical storm warning. Also, the Louisiana coast east of the mouth of the Mississippi River is no longer under a tropical storm warning.

The storm’s center was located about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west-southwest of Lafayette.

4 p.m.

Officials in a rural coastal parish in Louisiana have ordered an evacuation due to water overtopping a levee.

Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove ordered the evacuation of areas south of the Falgout (FAL’-goo) Canal.

The Courier of Houma reports Dove estimated about 400 people would be affected. Evacuees with nowhere to go were directed to a shelter in Houma.

The Lower Dularge East Levee was overtopped as Hurricane Barry was moving ashore in south Louisiana. Barry was later downgraded to a tropical storm. The slow-moving system did not pose a threat to Mississippi River levees as once feared. But surge and heavy rains led to the overtopping of the levee in Terrebonne, and another levee in coastal Plaquemines Parish.

3:55 p.m.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says parts of the state can expect heavy rain from Tropical Storm Barry, including areas of the rural Delta that have been flooded for months.

As Barry moves northward through Louisiana, Bryant says its outer bands will affect Mississippi. At a Saturday news conference, Bryant noted that “there is a lot of water out there, and it is headed our way.”

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency stationed search-and-rescue teams at the Camp Shelby military base near Hattiesburg and in southwestern Mississippi’s Pike County, near the Louisiana line. The Mississippi National Guard has 3,200 soldiers on standby.

More than 540,000 acres (291,000 hectares) in the Delta, north of Vicksburg, have been flooded since February. Bryant says rains from Barry could worsen that problem.

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