Tropical Storm Barry develops in Gulf of Mexico

By Bryan Norcross - Hurricane Specialist

MIAMI - Tropical Storm Barry has finally formed in the northern Gulf. It is drifting to the west well offshore of the Mississippi coast. The forecast is for it to continue its slow movement, and be at or near hurricane strength when it makes landfall, most likely in Louisiana. Otherwise, there is nothing of immediate concern in the tropics.

Tropical Storm Barry is still a messy system, but it is organized enough to be upgraded. Hurricane Hunters found winds at 40-45 mph well south of the center, but that was enough for the National Hurricane Center to call it a tropical storm.

The official forecast shows the system continuing west for a bit and then turning toward land. While it does that, it is expected to drag a tremendous amount of moisture into southern Louisiana. A major flood threat will continue into next week. Flooding from heavy rain and overtopping of some levees are real possibilities.

Barry is still forecast to be at or near hurricane strength when it makes landfall late tomorrow night or on Saturday, mostly likely in Louisiana.

The track forecast is quite uncertain. The various models show possible landfall points from one side of Louisiana to the other, so the entire coast, including the New Orleans area is on alert, especially for the likelihood of extreme rainfall. More heavy rain from a slow-moving tropical storm or hurricane over saturated ground and rivers already running very high will likely be the greatest threat.

In South Florida, a weak tropical wave is bringing some rain Thursday, but it will move out quickly and drier air will move in.

Elsewhere in the tropics, there is a strong tropical wave in the far eastern Atlantic – not far from Africa. It is plowing into dry air at this point, however, so it is not able to develop immediately. Even if it does in a few days, the atmosphere ahead of it is quite unfavorable. No tropical development of concern is expected for at least the next five days.

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