Left Menu
Development News Edition

UPDATE 6-'Life-threatening' Tropical Storm Barry grinds toward Louisiana

Reuters | Louisiana | Updated: 13-07-2019 04:53 IST | Created: 13-07-2019 04:51 IST
UPDATE 6-'Life-threatening' Tropical Storm Barry grinds toward Louisiana
Image Credit: twitter (@NHC_Atlantic)

City officials warned New Orleans residents on Friday to secure their homes, stock up on supplies and prepare to huddle indoors with Tropical Storm Barry poised to make landfall as the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019. Barry's maximum sustained winds were clocked at 65 miles per hour (100 kph) as it churned through the northern Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana. Meteorologists warned that torrential rains - as much as 2 feet (60 cm) in some places - are likely to unleash severe flooding.

While New Orleans authorities refrained from ordering evacuations and advised residents to shelter in place instead, tourism officials reported an exodus of hotel guests checking out early on Friday. Some airlines, including British Airways, have canceled outbound flights from the city through Saturday. Mandatory evacuations were imposed in flood-prone coastal areas of two neighboring parishes south of the city.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for Louisiana, and the region's oil production was scaled back by nearly 60 percent as energy companies evacuated offshore drilling facilities. A performance scheduled for Sunday by the Rolling Stones at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which served as an emergency shelter during the Hurricane Katrina flood catastrophe of 2005, was postponed until Monday.

The impending storm was widely seen as a key test of the fortified flood defenses put in place following Katrina, which inundated much of the city and killed some 1,800 people. Barry is expected to cross the coastline southwest of New Orleans on Saturday morning. It is forecast to reach Category-1 hurricane strength by then, with winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph), the National Weather Service said.

DANGEROUS AND LIFE-THREATENING

The storm's flood potential, rather than its high winds, posed the greatest danger to the low-lying metropolitan landscape of New Orleans, a city virtually surrounded on all sides by rising waters.

"Tropical Storm Barry is a dangerous and life-threatening storm," Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott said at a news conference. "Major to ... record flooding will be possible." Authorities were keeping a particularly watchful eye on the levee system built to contain the lower Mississippi River, which winds through the heart of New Orleans and was already well above flood stage from months of heavy upstream rainfall over the Midwest.

A coastal storm surge into the mouth of the Mississippi is expected to push its crest to 19 feet (5.79 m) in New Orleans on Saturday, the highest level since 1950 and dangerously close to the top of the city's levees. The brunt of Barry was expected to skirt the western edge of New Orleans, avoiding a direct hit. But Mayor LaToya Cantrell said 48 hours of heavy downpours could overwhelm pumps designed to purge streets and storm drains of excess water.

"There is no system in the world that can handle that amount of rainfall in such a short period," Cantrell said on Twitter. New Orleans was already saturated after thunderstorms drenched the city with a foot of rain on Wednesday.

"If it's worse than the other day, it'd be the worst week since Katrina," said musician Robert Harris, 61, polishing his trombone while sitting in a folding chair on a sidewalk.

FLOODGATES AND LEVEES

While street flooding seemed probable, officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers insisted that significant breaching of the 20-foot-tall levees in New Orleans was unlikely. All levee floodgates were being closed, along with a giant surge barrier erected after Katrina.

The chance of overtopping levees seemed greater farther downstream, where the levee walls are lower. The level of Lake Pontchartrain, an estuary on the city's northern flank, rose by 3 feet on Friday, triggering the closure of a flood gate on a canal that breached during Katrina, said Derrick Boese, chief administrator for the local flood control agency.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for areas of Plaquemines Parish beyond the levees southeast of the city and for low-lying communities in Jefferson Parish, to the southwest. New Orleans residents planning to ride out the storm flocked to supermarkets for bottled water, ice, snacks and beer, thronging grocery stores in such numbers that some ran out of shopping carts. Throughout the city, motorists left cars parked on the raised median strips of roadways hoping the extra elevation would protect them from flood damage.

City residents were asked to remain indoors after 8 p.m. on Friday. Larry Gumpert, the 74-year-old owner of a pest-control company, said he planned to hunker down at home, cooking and catching up on household chores.

"If all the predictions come true, we're going to see major street flooding," Gumpert said. "The Army Corps has spent time, money and energy trying to fortify the city. This is a good test of what they have accomplished since Katrina. We'll see."

Also Read: UPDATE 3-Tropical Storm Barry gains strength as it heads towards New Orleans


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

3D printing and the future of manufacturing post COVID-19

The on-demand, customizable, and localized manufacturing of product components facilitated by 3D printing has the potential to redefine manufacturing but there are certain technical, mechanical, and legal limitations that, unless ...

How UK’s 'best prepared' healthcare system failed to gauge COVID-19

The UK is proud of their public health system and its unlike any other country as around 90 percent of British public supports the founding principles of National Health Service. But without accurate data being available to stakeholders in ...

Poor on IHR capacity progress in 2019, WHO says Cambodia tops COVID-19 response

Despite being in proximity to Hubei, the original epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic, Cambodia has reported just 226 confirmed cases and zero deaths. After seeing the data, WHO appreciated Cambodias healthcare information system but experts dou...

Loopholes in Healthcare Information System may have failed Singapore COVID-19 model

In the initial days of the COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore was in the limelight for its effective healthcare system and pandemic response plan. However, Singapore has now joined the list of the worst-hit nations and the situation is even worse...

Videos

Latest News

Arthritis drug can shorten hospital stay for severe COVID-19 patients: Study

The drug tocilizumab, which is used in the treatment of various forms of arthritis, can greatly shorten the time on ventilation and hospital stays for patients with severe COVID-19, according to a Swedish study. The study, published in The ...

Airtel collaborates with Amazon to boost cloud offerings

Bharti Airtel on Wednesday announced a multi-year strategic collaboration agreement with Amazon Web Services AWS to deliver a comprehensive set of innovative cloud solutions to large enterprise and small and medium enterprise SME customers ...

WHO says N.Korea's COVID-19 test results for first suspected case 'inconclusive'

North Koreas test results for a man suspected of being the countrys first coronavirus case were inconclusive, though authorities have quarantined over 3,635 primary and secondary contacts, a World Health Organization official told Reuters.O...

Hindus celebrate Raksha Bandhan in Pakistan’s Peshawar

Members of the minority Hindu community in Pakistans Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have celebrated the festival of Raksha Bandhan with simplicity amidst restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A small group of people attended a programme h...

Give Feedback