Louisiana's Water-Logged Gulf Coast Braces for Potential Hurricane
An already saturated southern Louisiana is bracing for the arrival of a potential hurricane this weekend.
The weather disturbance that has already flooded parts of New Orleans is expected to strengthen into Hurricane Barry by Friday night, which experts fear could cause the historically high waters of the Mississippi River to top its levees.
Current predictions from the National Hurricane Center have Tropical Storm Barry making landfall just east of Vermilion Bay as a minimal category 1 hurricane on Saturday afternoon.
"This system has the potential to become a dangerous hurricane," the National Weather Service Lake Charles wrote on Facebook Wednesday night. "The threat for damaging winds and deadly storm surge is increasing."
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a statewide emergency Wednesday and said National Guard troops and high-water vehicles will be positioned all over the state.
"The entire coast of Louisiana is at play in this storm," he told the Associated Press.
Forecasters warn that the biggest danger from the slow-moving storm will come not from high winds but heavy rain as it makes its way up the swollen Mississippi River Valley. Mandatory evacuations have already been ordered in Plaquemines Parish, at Louisiana's southeastern tip.
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The National Weather Service expects the river to rise to 20 feet by Saturday morning in the New Orleans area, which is protected by levees 20 to 25 feet high.
"We're confident the levees themselves are in good shape," Ricky Boyett, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans, told the AP. "The big focus is height."
This story is still developing.