BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is warning that the storm approaching the Louisiana coast shouldn’t be taken lightly.
A hurricane warning is in effect along the Louisiana coast. Tropical Storm Barry is expected to make landfall early Saturday morning in south-central Louisiana as a category 1 hurricane.
“The cone is very large,” Gov. Edwards said in a news conference early Friday afternoon following a morning of briefings on the state’s ongoing emergency preparedness efforts. While the storm will be a major wind event in and around Morgan City where landfall is expected, tropical storm-force winds are expected as far north as Alexandria, and Edwards warns that “this is going to be a major rain event for much of the state.”
Tropical Storm Barry’s wind and rain began hitting parts of Louisiana early Friday as New Orleans and coastal communities braced for a drenching from what’s expected to be the first hurricane of the season.
With the ground already saturated and the Mississippi already flooding, Edwards says all precautions are being taken to protect the New Orleans area. “For the first time in history, all floodgates within the Hurricane Risk Reduction System area are being sealed off.” The system was built after Hurricane Katrina, intended to provide a 100-year level of storm surge risk reduction.
The storm’s rains are expected to pose a severe test of New Orleans’ improved post-Katrina flood defenses. Barry is forecast to bring more than a foot and a half (0.5 meters) of rain to parts of the state as it moves slowly inland.
“There are three ways that Louisiana can flood: storm surge, high rivers and rain,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “We’re going to have all three.”
While Edwards said Friday morning he doesn’t expect any of the levees on the Mississippi to be topped, state and local emergency officials are taking the threat very seriously.
“We don’t expect the Mississippi River levees to be overtopped anywhere. But this is going to be a very, very significant rain event across most of Louisiana and the rain bands that are going to come in off the Gulf of Mexico are going to be wide. And so this is going to impact just a huge swath of our state. We’re taking it extremely seriously.”