Tropical Storm Barry continued to dump large amounts of rain as it made its way over Louisiana on Sunday, causing heavy flooding and knocking out power for thousands of people along the Gulf Coast. The storm largely steered clear of New Orleans, but rainfall elsewhere in the state could reach up to 20 inches in some areas.
Barry made landfall in Louisiana on Saturday and weakened to a tropical storm. It's expected to further weaken to a tropical depression later Sunday.
Hurricane Barry: Facts
- As of Sunday morning, Barry was 80 miles south-southeast of Shreveport, with winds of 45 mph.
- Barry could bring "dangerous, life-threatening flooding" with more than 20 inches of rainfall in Louisiana and Mississippi.
- 70,000 people without power: 67,000 in Louisiana and 3,000 in Mississippi.
- The U.S. Coast Guard rescued at least 12 people amid floodwaters in Louisiana.
Barry weakens to Tropical Depression
4:56 p.m.: The National Hurricane Center announced on Sunday afternoon that Tropical Storm Barry has officially weakened to a Tropical Depression over Northwestern Louisiana.
Even so, the National Hurricane Center said earlier on Sunday that there is a still "a high risk of flash flooding" from Barry.
Hundreds of thousands without power in Louisiana
1:52 p.m: Thousands in Louisiana and Mississippi are without power and the acting administrator of FEMA has urged area residents to stay inside. Poweroutage.us reports that over 118,000 people in Louisiana have lost power. Mississippi is currently experiencing over 5,000 power outages.
Peter Gaynor, Acting Administrator of FEMA, urged people to stay inside and said that 90 percent of tropical cyclone deaths come from people driving through floodwaters.
One story in particular emphasizes the threat and chaos caused by flood waters. According to The Associated Press, Louisiana authorities attempted to rescue a family from high water in the city of Franklin, but the family resisted, preferring instead to stay in their home.
The Associated Press reports Deputy Steve Dooley said that authorities drove through water that was almost impassible but eventually made it to the house where the family was.
He said: "We made it to the house and they just didn't want to come out."
Flash flood watches extend into four states
11:55 a.m.: According to the National Weather Service (NWS), "the remnants of Tropical Storm Barry will bring an extended period of moderate to occasionally heavy rainfall through Thursday."
The NWS said there is a tornado risk in the line from Jonesboro, Arkansas to Dyersburg, Tennessee and, by later in the upcoming week, heat indices may reach as high as 105 degrees.
Current flash flood watches extended from Louisiana up through Mississippi and into Arkansas and parts of Southwest Tennessee and Southeast Missouri.
Tornados possible on Sunday
11:23 a.m.: The NWS' Weather Prediction Center indicated there was the potential for 3 to 6 inches of rain over the course of Sunday morning. Areas by the Atchafalaya River faced the main threat.
Additionally, the NWS in New Orleans said there was still a threat of flash flooding and possible tornadoes.
-- Brian Pascus
Flights resume at New Orleans airport
9:45 a.m.: Flights are arriving and departing again from the New Orleans airport as 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.
-- The Associated Press
"Life-threatening" flooding "the primary threat"
7:46 a.m. Sunday: In its early-morning advisory, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said Barry continues to move westward over western Louisiana, with a turn toward the north expected Sunday.
The NHC said "life-threatening flooding rains" are the "primary threat" from the storm, which is expected to weaken to a tropical depression later in the day. As of 5 a.m. ET, it was located about 80 miles south-southeast of Shreveport with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.
A tropical storm warning is in effect along the Louisiana coast from Morgan City to Cameron, and a storm surge warning is in place from Intracoastal City to the mouth of the Atchafalaya River.
-- Stefan Becket
Hurricane warnings lifted in Louisiana
10:25 p.m. Saturday: According a Saturday update from the National Hurricane Center, the hurricane warning for Louisiana was lifted. A tropical storm warning was in effect for the following regions:
- Mouth of the Mississippi River to Sabine Pass
- Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas including metropolitan New Orleans
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for Intracoastal City to Biloxi, Mississippi, as well as Lake Pontchartrain. During a Saturday evening press conference, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents to continue preparing for potential life-threatening flash flooding and to not let their guard down.
"Every storm is different," Edwards said. "My concern is we have a lot of people going to bed tonight thinking the worst is behind them and that's not the case."
-- April Siese
Scientists worry about wildlife habitat
9:28 p.m.: Hurricane Barry could affect the environment of the Gulf coast and Lower Mississippi Valley in numerous ways, scientists say. But the extent of the damage is hard to predict because the region faces a rare combination: the storm's anticipated tidal surge and torrential downpour, combined with record-high water levels in the Mississippi River.
"We don't know how the system is going to respond to all this because it's so unusual," said Melissa Baustian, a coastal ecologist with the Water Institute of the Gulf in Baton Rouge.
Also vulnerable are Louisiana's coastal marshes, already hammered by development and flood control measures that prevent natural coastal shoreline replenishment.
"There are going to be short-term effects on the ecosystem," said David Muth of the National Wildlife Federation's Gulf Restoration Program. "But what's out of whack is that this amount of rainfall is linked to a longer-term trend because of climate change, and that's disturbing."
FEMA "confident" in its response
8:00 p.m.: During a Saturday press call, Jeff Byard told reporters he was confident in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's to the continued threat of Tropical Storm Barry. "We have adequate commodities if needed," Byard said.
Byard serves as the agency's Associate Administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery. Also on the call was Mark Wingate with the Army Corps. of Engineers, who said there was "no concerns of [the Mississippi river] overtopping the levees" in New Orleans.
Wingate said the Army Corps. was providing assistance in Plaquemines Parish, where back levees are being overtopped.
-- April Siese