Residents across Gulf Coast states on Thursday braced for a tropical storm — and potential hurricane — that’ll bring high winds and deadly, torrential rains.
Tropical Storm Barry was brewing in the Gulf of Mexico and could make landfall, somewhere between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle by Friday morning, forecasters said.
“Barry is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 15 inches near and inland of the central Gulf Coast through early next week, with isolated maximum rainfall amounts of 20 inches across portions of eastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi,” according to a National Hurricane Center bulletin issued at 10 a.m. CT (11 a.m. ET).
Barry has the potential of becoming a hurricane by late Friday or early Saturday, with rainfall that could be deadly.
“It’s the water that’s the most deadly part of these tropical systems — 90% of the fatalities in these tropical systems is the water,” National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham told WDSU, an NBC affiliate in New Orleans.
The town of Grand Isle, Louisiana, south of New Orleans, ordered a mandatory evacuation of residents at noon on Thursday.
Plaquemines Parish, just southwest of New Orleans, had already started evacuating residents on Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re erring on the side of caution,” Parish President Kirk Lepine said. “We want to make sure every resident is prepared and they’re to understand that this government will take care of everybody in his parish.”
And United Airlines announced Thursday that flights involving 13 Gulf Coast airports — including New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, and Panama City, Florida — between Thursday and Sunday, could be re-booked at no additional charge.