Tropical Storm Barry has officially formed in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening to turn into a hurricane as it lingers outside the coast of Louisiana. The National Hurricane Center announced Thursday that Barry skipped right over the tropical depression phase to earn its Tropical Storm name.
BREAKING: Tropical Storm Barry forms in the Gulf of Mexico; could become a hurricane as it threatens Louisiana.— The Associated Press (@AP) July 11, 2019
The service also adjusted the storm's path to the east, issued tropical storm and surge warnings and extended tropical storm watches right up to the Alabama border.
The hurricane center still expects Barry to strengthen and become a minimal hurricane before making landfall on Saturday in central Louisiana. It's projected to bring intense rain to parts of the South throughout the weekend — up to 20 inches, in some cases.
At 11 a.m. ET, Tropical Storm Barry was located about 95 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and was moving west at 5 miles per hour. Its winds have increased to 40 miles per hour, which is the bare minimum for a tropical storm.
Barry could possibly strengthen to a minimal hurricane by late Friday or early Saturday, with top winds of possibly 75 miles per hour, the hurricane center said.
However, the real concern as of now is the surge and rain, as a storm surge of three to six feet will be possible in parts of low-lying Louisiana, which are already flooding with rain water. Forecasters says 10-15 inches of more rain are possible with the storm, with isolated areas at risk of up to 20 inches. The New Orleans metro area got up to six inches on Wednesday from storms associated with Barry.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending more personnel to Louisiana and Texas as the coast prepares for the potential hurricane. The agency said it's also staging supplies, including "moving meals, water and other shelter items" to the area, a spokeswoman told CNN.
FEMA said in a statement that it's "monitoring any potential effects to areas hit by hurricanes Harvey and Michael, where joint recovery efforts continue" and stressed the importance of being prepared and taking the storm seriously.
"Gulf Coast residents should prepare now for heavy rains, flooding and high wind impacts regardless of this storm’s category. The potential response on top of recovery means that even smaller and less severe storms could have significant impacts on potentially affected areas," the statement said.