New Orleans appears to have been spared the biblical deluge that forecasters thought it might get. The city’s total through Sunday night is now expected to top out at 6 inches or so; at one point there were forecasts that as much as 20 inches might fall. Tropical storm warnings and storm surge warnings for New Orleans have been canceled.
Drenching rains still a menace from Tropical Storm Barry
The center of Tropical Storm Barry was about 80 miles southeast of Shreveport, Louisiana, early Sunday and not going anywhere in a hurry. All of southeast Louisiana remains under a flash flood watch until 7 p.m. Sunday because of how slowly Barry is moving.
The heaviest rainfall is now expected in northeastern Louisiana and western Mississippi, the National Weather Service said, where 4 to 8 more inches of rain are forecast. A flash flood warning is also in effect for Mississippi’s capital, Jackson.
Danielle Manning, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said the bulk of those potential rains will fall over the next 24 hours. Though some areas could still see very heavy rain, she said, “I would say that the probability of widespread significant flooding is lower than what we initially anticipated.”
About 145,000 households and businesses had no power Sunday morning, according to the tracking site PowerOutage.US.
There was only scattered light rain Sunday morning in St. Mary Parish, which includes Morgan City, a small town about 20 miles from the southern coast of Louisiana where officials had been braced for a direct hit from the storm.
Officials there continued to express hope that the parish would be spared the worst, as it has been during several other recent Gulf storms.
“I think we’re in better shape than we were yesterday,” said David Naquin, the homeland security director for the parish. “If we just dodge the rain, we’ll be all right. We’ve got some rain coming today. We just don’t know how much we’re going to get.”
There had been no injuries or substantial structural damage in the parish by early Sunday, officials said. Even so, authorities said they were forced to evacuate a small community outside Franklin, a town of about 9,000, because of what Naquin called “water issues.”
Barry never quite became the classic swirling figure seen with strong hurricanes, Christopher Bannon, a local National Weather Service meteorologist, said Sunday.
The storm system was battered by dry air as it made landfall below Lafayette on the south-central Louisiana coast, Bannon said, which tamped down its rain bands, keeping them mostly confined to the Gulf of Mexico.
As the storm rotated, dry air over Alabama and Georgia was swept into the system, mixing with the moist tropical air in the Gulf, he said. A pair of competing high-pressure areas to the east and to the north created a phenomenon called wind shear — winds at different levels of the atmosphere moving in very different directions — and that slowed the storm to a crawl.
“When you have dry air and shear, a lot of the rain impacts are displaced from the center” of the storm, Bannon said. And that makes them hard to predict, he said: “Some of the computer models really struggle with weaker systems and their outer bands.”
Even so, he said, Barry’s outer storm bands could become “reinvigorated and take off” Sunday if the area warms up. Flash flooding was still a risk, and a strong storm line was also moving toward Baton Rouge from Lafayette. A tornado warning was issued for Denham Springs, on the eastern edge of Baton Rouge, at 8 a.m.
“Still not out of the woods yet,” Bannon said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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