LOUISIANA—July 15, 2019—Hurricane Barry, the first of the Atlantic season, made landfall Saturday afternoon near Intracoastal City, LA then quickly weakened to a tropical storm as it pushed inland. The slow-moving storm was briefly at Category 1 strength when it struck the coast west of New Orleans, but the biggest threat to residents was heavy rain and flooding, according to the Associated Press and other sources.
Residents across Louisiana spent the weekend making preparations on high alert as forecasters predicted life-threatening flooding and storm surge that would test the system of pumps and levees that was overhauled after the 2005 devastation of Hurricane Katrina. City officials closed all the floodgates in New Orleans, but no evacuations were ordered in the city, according to the AP.
As Barry marched through the state, most of the forecasters’ worst predictions did not materialize. Though roads and highways flooded, none of the main levees on the Mississippi River failed. South of New Orleans, two levees were briefly overtopped by water in Terrebonne Parish and Plaquemines Parish, according to the AP. In Terrebonne Parish, the Coast Guard rescued 12 people stranded by flooding as water filled their homes. Throughout Louisiana, more than 153,000 residents had lost power as of Sunday morning, according to CNN.
CNN reported that Lafourche, Jefferson, and St. Mary parishes also experienced flooding, and at least 16 roads and 24 bridges were closed over the weekend across Louisiana. Strong winds destroyed some buildings in Iberia Parish, and floodwaters closed road access to Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana, leaving residents stranded there as of Sunday.
As Barry pushes north, forecasters predict it will drop 3 to 6 inches of rain across portions of Arkansas, west Tennessee, and northwest Mississippi, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy, bringing storm totals in some areas up to 15 inches by the time Barry’s slow-moving remnants reach the Ohio Valley midweek. With the Mississippi River still running high from the widespread spring flooding in the Midwest, Barry’s rainfall as it moves upriver continues to pose a flood risk in these areas.