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Barry Becomes a Named Tropical Storm, Targets New Orleans

Tropical Storm Barry's path, as predicted at 11am on July 11Tropical Storm Barry's path, as predicted at 11am on July 11

Tropical Storm Barry is officially a named storm now—and it’s headed to Louisiana.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded the system to a tropical storm in its 11 a.m. update. At present, Barry has sustained winds of 40mph and is moving westward at 5 mph. This is the first tropical event of the 2019 hurricane season.

At present, Barry is well below the wind speed required for a hurricane classification (that’s 74mph), but it’s expected to reach that status before it hits the Louisiana coasts Saturday morning. Forecasters predict the eye of the storm will arrive around 7am that morning.

The timing couldn’t be worse for the state. Louisiana is already suffering flooding conditions after between six and nine inches of rain have fallen in areas around New Orleans in recent days. Barry is expected to bring another 10 to 18 inches, as it’s a slow moving storm that could result in heavy rains for long periods. Making matters more worrisome, the Mississippi River near New Orleans is forecast to crest at its highest level since 1927 this weekend.

It’s too early to predict how strong a storm Barry will be, but forecasters say a Category 1 is likely and it could become a Category 2. A flash flooding warning has already been issued in New Orleans.

So far, the 2019 hurricane season has been a slow one, something long-term forecasters predicted. Forecasters at Colorado State University said in April they anticipated the Atlantic would have “slightly below normal activity.”

Experts say they expect to see 13 named storms this year, with only two major hurricanes. There’s a 48% chance a major storm, either a Category 3, 4 or 5, will hit the east coast (though that’s less than the 52% average of the last century). Last year, there were 15 named storms, including two major hurricanes.

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