Hurricane watch issued for part of Gulf Coast

Hurricane Barry expected to strike Louisiana this weekend

By Bryan Norcross - Hurricane Specialist

Afternoon Tropical Update: July 10, 2019

THE TROPICAL SYSTEM WE HAVE BEEN WATCHING IN THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO IS STILL NOT ORGANIZED, BUT IT IS FORECAST TO STRENGTHEN AND THEN MAKE LANDFALL IN LOUISIANA AT OR NEAR HURRICANE STRENGTH OVER THE WEEKEND.  OTHERWISE THE TROPICS ARE QUIET.

A tropical depression is expected to form tonight or tomorrow in the Gulf of Mexico well south of the Pensacola.  The steering winds will take it toward the west, away from Florida, into a moderately favorable atmospheric environment for strengthening.  

Over the very warm Gulf waters, the system is expect to become Tropical Storm Barry and possibly Hurricane Barry before landfall.

It is important to remember that forecasts for poorly organized, developing systems are, on average, significantly less accurate than those for well-defined tropical storms or hurricanes.  With that in mind, current indications are that Barry will make landfall in or very near Louisiana on Saturday.  

Rainfall is expected be a significant threat near and to the right of where the storm makes landfall.  Obviously, if Barry dramatically intensifies, wind and storm surge will bring additional significant risks.  

Louisiana is especially vulnerable to heavy rain.  The Mississippi River is already near flood stage because of heavy spring rain farther north.  Strong winds from Barry blowing upriver would aggravate that problem by slowing the river’s flow, not to mention the major threat of flooding due to torrential rain. 

Significant flooding has already occurred in New Orleans today due to heavy thunderstorms one the fringe of this developing system.  The National Weather Service is forecasting 10-15 inches of rain for southeastern Louisiana related to the storm, although that is highly dependent on the final track of the storm, which is uncertain.

By tomorrow, hopefully we will see exactly where the organized circulation has develop.  Then we can have more confidence in the forecasts.

The National Hurricane Center has issued Tropical Storm, Hurricane, and Storm Surge Watches for the parts of southeastern Louisiana.

Elsewhere, the Atlantic and the Caribbean are expected to be free of tropical development through the weekend, at least.

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