Barry strengthens into hurricane as it nears Louisiana coast

Barry strengthens into hurricane as it nears Louisiana coast
© NOAA

Tropical Storm Barry was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane late Saturday morning as it neared the Louisiana coast, threatening to bring large amounts of rain and storm surge. 

The storm, which the National Hurricane Center says brings maximum sustained wind speeds of 75 miles per hour, has already flooded parts of New Orleans ahead of its landfall.

The hurricane is currently moving at 14 miles per hour and is expected to hit the Louisiana coast in full force midday Saturday. Officials have warned residents to expect severe flooding that could impact the entire state.

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The National Hurricane Center said Saturday that “life-threatening storm surge inundation is ongoing” along parts of the Louisiana coast and that “life-threatening, significant flash flooding and river flooding will become increasingly likely later today.”

“This is going to be a Louisiana event with coastal flooding and widespread, heavy rainfall potentially impacting every part of the state,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said in a statement this week.

Tens of thousands of residents have reportedly already lost power, and Entergy Louisiana tweeted that it has “more than 2,900 workers staged across the state, prepared to restore power as quickly as is safely possible.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE on Friday declared an emergency in Louisiana as Barry approaches the state, ordering federal assistance to supplement state and local efforts ahead of the impending storm.

The storm is expected to test New Orleans's levee system, which was rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and other towns hit by Hurricane Michael last year are in the storm's path. The storm has also raised worries about possible pollution and disruption to energy sources.

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement estimated that crude oil output in the U.S.-regulated areas of the Gulf of Mexico has been cut by almost 59 percent, or 1.1 million barrels per day, and that natural gas production was reduced by about 49 percent, or about 1.4 million cubic feet per day.

Barry is expected to weaken as it moves through Louisiana before reaching Arkansas and some areas of Tennessee and Mississippi early next week.