Rainfall from Barry Spreads Across Central Gulf Coast

July 13, 2019, 5:36 PM EDT

Above: Natural-color satellite image of Tropical Storm Barry as of 1905Z (3:05 pm EDT) Saturday, July 13, 2019. Image credit: tropicaltidbits.com.

Rainbands were expanding from southeast Texas to southern Alabama on Saturday evening as lumbering Tropical Storm Barry continued to edge north toward the heart of Louisiana. At 5 pm EDT, Barry was located about 10 miles west-southwest of Lafayette, with top sustained winds down to 65 mph. Barry was moving north-northwest at 7 mph, and that lackadaisical pace should continue into Sunday, with a gradual arc toward the north.

NHC reported that Barry made landfall at Marsh Island and Intracoastal City, Louisiana, between 11 am and 1 pm CDT Saturday, during the storm’s three-hour window at hurricane strength. "Barry made landfall as a hurricane. However, due to the poor center definition, the exact times and locations will be determined in post-analysis,” said forecaster Jack Beven.

All hurricane-related advisories had expired by late Saturday afternoon, although tropical storm warnings and storm surge warnings remained in effect. See the frequently updated weather.com story for the latest on watches and warnings.

Storm surge flooding

Figure 1. A levee in Myrtle Grove, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana being overtopped by the storm surge from Hurricane Barry on July 13, 2019. Image credit: LSM Brandon clement via weather.com.

Levees overtopped

Barry’s worst impacts thus far have been in far southeast Louisiana, where two levee overtopping events occurred. A mandatory evacuation was ordered for about 400 residents in Terrebonne Parish along Louisiana 315 and Brady Road south of the Salgout Canal Road, due to extended overtopping of a four-mile section of the Lower Dularge East Levee. Angela Hidalgo, Administrative Manager of the Terrebonne Levee District, told weather.com that the overtopped levee was around 7 feet high, while others in the area had been raised to at least 12 feet. "We did do a lot of work on the northern part of it and it fared very well," Hidalgo said. "We were just kind of hoping we could get something in the lower part done before we had a tropical event, but we didn't quite make it."

Another levee was overtopping in several places in Plaquemines Parish. It is one of two in the parish not reinforced in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, although funding was allocated for the levee. Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser told CNN “the water is coming over the levee pretty good," noting that the levee can withstand several hours of overtopping before a breach occurs. Should that happen, waters could flood a good portion of Plaquemines Parish, including the small town of Ironton.

High water also overtopped levees on the north side of Lake Ponchartrain, in the Mandeville area, resulting in some localized flooding. Water levels remained 3' to 4' above normal on the south and west sides of the lake on Saturday afternoon.

The highest surge levels, in the 6’ – 7’ range, were occurring along the Atachafalaya River from around Morgan City southward. Water levels along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts had dropped to 1’ – 2’ above average. As of 5 pm CDT Saturday, the Louisiana State University storm surge viewer for Barry showed that the highest surge from Barry was 7.0’ at LAWMA-Amerada Pass in south-central Louisiana.

Heavy rains and flooding still in the forecast

The east side of Barry’s circulation will continue pulling very moist Gulf air northward through the weekend, and the storm’s heaviest rainfall should remain near and east of its center. Intense rainbands on Barry’s eastern edge swept across coastal Mississippi and Alabama on Saturday afternoon, prompting several tornado warnings north of Mobile. The Mobile Downtown Airport picked up more than 4” of rain, and the NWS reported that more than 6” had fallen across parts of far south Mississippi. WU observers in coastal Alabama reported unofficial totals of 5.91” at Windward Cove and 7.86” at DeSoto Landing.

The NOAA/NWS Weather Prediction Center scaled back its rainfall forecast on Saturday afternoon. General 10+" amounts are now expected to be limited to a small area of south central Louisiana, perhaps extending to near Baton Rouge. A corridor of 5-10” rainfall is still predicted to spread up the Mississippi Delta as far as Memphis by Monday. This corridor could end up a bit further east or west depending on how Barry unfolds.

NHC cautioned in its 5 pm EDT update that isolated totals of 25” are still possible over south-central Louisiana and southwest Mississippi. WPC maintained high-risk areas for excessive flood-producing for Saturday night and Sunday.

Barry is the 61st hurricane to impact Louisiana since 1851

According to NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, Barry is the first hurricane to make landfall on the coast of Louisiana since Hurricane Isaac of 2012. Isaac killed five people in Louisiana and did at least $612 million in damage to the state, after making landfall as a Category 1 storm with 80 mph winds in the southeast part of the state. The most recent hurricane to impact Louisiana was Nate of October 2017. Nate was a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds when its center made landfall in Mississippi. Nate did $225 million in damage to the U.S., and killed two.

In addition, Barry is the 61st hurricane since 1851 to impact Louisiana. On average, Louisiana is impacted by a hurricane approximately every three years, and by a major hurricane once every nine years. Including Barry, only six hurricane impacts have occurred in the months of June of July. By category, the number of hurricane impacts/landfalls since 1851 in Louisiana are:

Category 1: 26
Category 2: 17
Category 3: 15
Category 4: 2
Category 5: 1

Jeff Masters co-wrote this post. Thanks to Joseph McCarthy and Jan Wesner Childs for details on the levee overtopping.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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Bob Henson

WU meteorologist Bob Henson, co-editor of Category 6, is the author of "Meteorology Today" and "The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change." Before joining WU, he was a longtime writer and editor at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO.



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