Tropical Storm Barry is poised to make landfall as the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019 in the US state of Louisiana.
It’s as most New Orleans residents huddled at home, or in bars, bracing for the threat of severe flooding.
Authorities urged citizens to secure property, stock up provisions and shelter in place. However, some nervous residents opted to flee the city, and tourism officials reported an abrupt exodus of out-of-town visitors on Friday.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered in outlying coastal areas beyond the protection of levees in neighboring Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes south of the city.
The storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour (100 kph), was on track to reach hurricane strength shortly before crossing the Louisiana coastline southwest of New Orleans on Saturday, the National Weather Service said.
Landfall was expected around sunrise.
Meteorologists warned that torrential rain – as much as 2 feet (60 cm) in some places – could unleash severe flooding as the storm moves inland from the Gulf of Mexico, where oil and gas operations have already cut production by nearly 60 percent.
U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for Louisiana on Friday, freeing up federal disaster assistance if needed.
The impending storm could test beefed-up flood defenses put in place since the 2005 calamity of Hurricane Katrina, which left much of New Orleans underwater and killed about 1,800 people.
Published: 13/07/2019 by Radio NewsHub