UPDATE: Sunday, 11:40 a.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Tropical Storm Barry’s winds weakened slightly to 40 mph (65 kph), but the risks associated with the storm – including flooding and tornadoes – were sparking new concerns. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 11 a.m. Sunday advisory that the storm’s center was located about 50 miles (85 kilometers) south-southeast of Shreveport, Louisiana. A flash flood warning was in effect for Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, and Vermilion parishes until 1:15 p.m. CDT.
UPDATE: Sunday, 10:20 a.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Flights are arriving and departing again from the New Orleans airport as Tropical Storm Barry heads north.
The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport said in a statement Sunday morning that most airlines are returning to normal operations. The airport is advising passengers to arrive at least two hours early as they could encounter long lines.
Delta Air Lines spokesman Drake Castañeda said Sunday that the Atlanta-based company resumed normal operations in New Orleans Saturday night. Castañeda said Delta flights from Atlanta and New York landed in New Orleans shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday.
UPDATE: Saturday, 6:20 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – 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.
UPDATE: Saturday, 4:20 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Tropical Storm Barry’s outer bands dumped heavy rain on some areas of coastal Alabama, closing roads and snarling traffic.
John Kilcullen of the Mobile County Emergency Management Agency said Saturday some roads were closed in low-lying coastal areas.
He said motorists were urged to be cautious after the downpours – along with standing water – contributed to a number of accidents in the county. The National Weather Service on Saturday issued a flash flood warning for Alabama’s two coastal counties.
Kilcullen said the heavy rain is the primary concern from the storm.
Double red flags at the Alabama beaches in Baldwin County, Alabama warned tourists that waters were closed for swimming.
UPDATE: Saturday, 2:20 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says none of the main levees on the Mississippi River in the state has failed or been breached so far because of Tropical Storm Barry.
But he warned at a news conference on Saturday that the storm is just beginning and the state faces significant threats in the days ahead.
Authorities have previously said water was flowing over the tops of a few levees in areas south of New Orleans. But those are not the main levees protecting the Mississippi River.
The storm threatening the Louisiana coast weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm as it made landfall.
UPDATE: Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
INTRACOASTAL CITY, LA (WBTW) – Hurricane Barry has made landfall near Intracoastal City, Louisiana and has weakened to a tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.
UPDATE: Saturday, 12:10 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The heaviest rains on land from lopsided Hurricane Barry have hit coastal Alabama and Mississippi the hardest.
Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said Saturday that parts of his barrier island in Alabama are flooded from both the driving rain early Saturday and surging water from the Gulf of Mexico.
Collier was driving around in a Humvee to survey the damage. He said the island still has power and wind damage was minimal.
The Category 1 hurricane was nearing shore some 200 miles (320 kilometers) from Dauphin Island, but Collier says the island often sees impacts from storms far away.
UPDATE: Saturday, 11 a.m.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The storm threatening the Louisiana coast has strengthened to a hurricane.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. Saturday advisory that Barry had reached maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), with higher gusts.
Hurricane-force winds were measured some 45 miles (75 km) to the east of the storm’s center, which was located 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Lafayette, Louisiana. It was moving northwest at 6 mph (9 kph).
Weather forecasters said a hurricane warning is in effect for Intracoastal City to Grand Isle. Such a warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Heavy rains and gusty winds began knocking out power on the Gulf Coast as a strengthening Tropical Storm Barry churned a path to shore, threatening millions and testing flood-prevention efforts implemented after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 14 years ago.
Officials predicted Barry would make landfall as this year’s first hurricane Saturday morning near Morgan City, where a curfew has been set until 6 a.m. The edges of the storm were already lashing Louisiana and coastal Mississippi and Alabama with rain, leaving some roads underwater overnight. As dawn approached Saturday, more than 45,000 people in southern Louisiana had lost power.
Though expected to be a weak hurricane — just barely over the 74 mph (119 kph) wind speed threshold — it threatened disastrous flooding across a swath of the Gulf Coast. The storm was expected to inflict the most damage on Louisiana and parts of Mississippi, with wind and rain affecting more than 3 million people.
Late Friday night, residents received good news from forecasters: the Mississippi River is expected to crest in New Orleans at about 17.1 feet (5.2 meters) on Monday, not 19 feet (5.8 meters) as had been earlier predicted. The levees protecting the city range from about 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters) in height.
But forecasters warned most of the storm’s rain remained over the Gulf of Mexico and would likely move into Louisiana and Mississippi later Saturday. The southern part of Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans had been pushed 3 feet (1 meter) above its typical level hours before the storm was to make landfall.
Governors declared emergencies in both states, and authorities took unprecedented precautions in closing floodgates and raising the barriers around New Orleans.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said it was the first time all floodgates were sealed in the New Orleans-area Hurricane Risk Reduction System since Katrina. Still, he said he didn’t expect the Mississippi River to spill over the levees despite water levels already running abnormally high from heavy spring rains and melting snow upstream.
“My concerns are just hoping it’s not going to be another Katrina,” said Donald Wells, a restaurant cook in New Orleans.
Authorities told at least 10,000 people in exposed, low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast to leave, but no evacuations were ordered in New Orleans , where officials urged residents to “shelter in place.”
Before they did, people packed stores to stock up on bottled water, food and other essentials.
Lifelong New Orleans resident Terrence Williams grabbed supplies at a Costco, saying he has a few simple rules for big storms.
“Stock up on water. Stock up food. Get ready for the storm — ride it out,” he said.
Scott Daley, 55, maneuvered two shopping carts filled with bottled water, gallons of milk and frozen meat at a Walmart in Lake Charles, in southwestern Louisiana.
“I’ve got five small children at the house. So we’re just hunkering down,” he said.
At least one couple scrapped their carefully planned Saturday wedding in favor of moving up the ceremony .
“We realized we had a marriage license, two rings … and we didn’t really want to wait any longer,” Associated Press photographer Gerald Herbert said before marrying Lucy Sikes on Friday, before the storm hit.
Forecasters said slow-moving Barry could unload 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters) of rain through Sunday across a swath of Louisiana that includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge, as well as southwestern Mississippi, with pockets in Louisiana getting 25 inches (63 centimeters).
“It’s powerful. It’s strengthening. And water is going to be a big issue,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned.
Workers also shored up and raised the levee system in places with beams, sheet metal and other barriers.
Rescue crews and about 3,000 National Guard troops were posted around Louisiana with boats, high-water vehicles and helicopters. President Donald Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, authorizing federal agencies to coordinate relief efforts.
The impending storm also triggered a legal spat between neighboring parishes. East Baton Rouge Parish won a temporary restraining order against the AquaDams that Iberville Parish planned to deploy along Bayou Manchac. A federal judge ruled Friday night that the water-filled flood control barriers could cause substantial property damage and loss of life in East Baton Rouge.
Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent storms and flooding, but without extensive study, they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.
Before the worst of the storm, Kaci Douglas and her 15-year-old son, Juan Causey, were among dozens filling sandbags at a fire station in Baton Rouge. She planned to use them to shore up the door of her townhouse.
“I told my son, it’s better to be safe than sorry,” she said.
In New Orleans, a group of neighbors cleaned out the storm drains on their street. Working together to lift off the heavy metal covers, they discovered that most of the drains were full of dirt, leaves and garbage.
All over town, people parked their cars on the city’s medians — referred to by locals as “neutral grounds” — in hopes their vehicles would be safe on the slightly elevated strips.
After Katrina was blamed for more than 1,800 deaths, by some estimates, 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 (560 kilometers) of levees and more than 70 pumping stations.