Tropical Storm Barry forms in the Gulf of Mexico; could become a hurricane as it threatens Louisiana


NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The Latest on a tropical weather system in the Gulf of Mexico (all times local):

1:55 p.m.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is telling people in the southern part of the state to be prepared for heavy rain from Tropical Storm Barry as it pushes northward through the Gulf of Mexico.

The agency says people in low-lying areas should have a plan to evacuate before waters rise.

Forecasters say the storm could become a hurricane and make landfall in Louisiana. Effects could be felt in Mississippi by early Friday.

MEMA says there’s the potential for storm surge greater than 3 feet (1 meter) on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the south and central parts of the state could have heavy rainfall and flooding.

1:30 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says authorities don’t expect the Mississippi River to overflow levees as Tropical Storm Barry moves toward the Gulf Coast.

At a Thursday news conference, the governor said high water forecasts for the river have gone down slightly but a change in the storm’s direction or intensity could renew the possibility of the levees being topped by a river already swollen by heavy rains and snow melt.

Forecasters say Barry could hit Louisiana as a weak hurricane over the weekend. Edwards said it would be the first time a hurricane made landfall in Louisiana when the Mississippi River was already at flood stage.

11:55 a.m.

The mayor of New Orleans says the city’s water pumps are “working at optimal capacity” as Tropical Storm Barry moves toward the state’s Gulf coast.

But speaking at a Thursday news conference, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell added that flooding is a threat because slow-moving, heavy rains are expected from the storm.

National Weather Service meteorologist says New Orleans could get 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimeters) of rain Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Some isolated areas could see 20 inches (50 centimeters).

Barry could hit Louisiana as a weak hurricane over the weekend.

10:05 a.m.

Tropical Storm Barry has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and forecasters say it could become a hurricane as it threatens Louisiana’s coast.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm’s maximum sustained winds Thursday morning are near 40 mph (64 kph) with additional strengthening expected during the next day or two.

A tropical storm warning is now in effect for the Louisiana coast from the mouth of the Pearl River to Morgan City.

9:40 a.m.

Plaquemines (PLAK-uh-minz) Parish spokeswoman Jade Duplessis says about 8,000 to 10,000 parish residents are under a mandatory evacuation order as a potential tropical storm brews in the Gulf of Mexico and half of them may need help.

All of the parish’s east bank and part of its west bank are under mandatory evacuation orders.

The parish government has set up pickup points on both sides of the Mississippi River. From there, school buses will take people to a registration point and then to evacuation centers.

Duplessis says cats and dogs will be taken in separate vehicles and if owners don’t have their own travel crates, the parish will provide them.

The evacuation order took effect at 6 a.m. Thursday. Duplessis says officials hope everyone is out by Friday afternoon.

The disturbance in the Gulf is expected to develop into a tropical storm late Thursday and could hit southern Louisiana as a weak hurricane this weekend.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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