Tropical Storm Barry has strengthened into a hurricane and is set to make landfall as the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019. Barry's maximum sustained winds were recorded at 75 miles per hour as it came towards Louisiana passing through the northern Gulf of Mexico. 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 did not give instructions of evacuations but 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.
Amid such rising fears, a state of emergency was declared by US President Donald Trump for Louisiana.