Sprawling storm Barry intensifies into a hurricane

Sprawling storm Barry intensifies into a hurricaneUPDATE: July 13, 2019, 3:17 p.m. EDT: The National Hurricane Center advised that after making landfall in Louisiana, Barry weakened to a tropical storm. This doesn't change projections for pummeling rain and the likelihood of extreme flooding.  * * *The lopsided storm Barry is now a hurricane. The National Weather Service expects Hurricane Barry, packing 75 mph winds, to pummel portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, other nearby regions with extreme rain and flooding on Saturday and Sunday. Barry might not be a major hurricane, but it has capitalized on exceptionally warm ocean waters to load itself with moisture -- which will soon douse the region."It's going to rain hard," Jeff Weber, a meteorologist with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), told Mashable as Barry picked up steam over the Gulf of Mexico."Rainfall is one of the most impactful effects of a tropical storm," National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) hurricane scientist Rosimar Rios-Berrios emphasized Friday evening, as Barry crept toward Louisiana."The rainfall does not depend on how strong the storm is," she added. Indeed, Hurricane Harvey -- the largest rain event in U.S. history -- did its most destruction when it was no longer a hurricane. "...the upgrade to a hurricane means little in terms of the overall impacts from Barry," the National Hurricane Center noted Saturday morning. > Barry is now a hurricane \- the first of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. On average, the first Atlantic hurricane forms on August 10. pic.twitter.com/rQ8gxIle74> > -- Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) July 13, 2019Portions of Louisiana and Mississippi are forecast to receive between 10 and 20 inches of rain. Some models show 18.5 inches in flood-prone Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  "A foot of rain in that area can create quite a problem," noted UCAR's Weber.Though rainfall would be imminent regardless, as of Friday afternoon it was still unclear if Barry would develop into a storm with hurricane force winds. The lopsided, unorganized storm system was getting hit by winds, known as wind shear, that made organizing into a more potent storm difficult, noted Rios-Berrios.But Barry overcame those challenges, and as a hurricane will bring surges of ocean water into coastal areas, threaten to overtop levees in the region, and almost certainly bring damaging or catastrophic flooding to certain areas over the next two days. > GOESEast watches as HurricaneBarry, now a Cat. 1 storm, creeps toward southern Louisiana. Dangerous storm surge, heavy rains and high winds are already impacting the north-central Gulf Coast. Latest updates: https://t.co/1L8q1zg4eW pic.twitter.com/wqI2lr8c83> > -- NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) July 13, 2019> VIDEO: Per Plaquemines Parish officials, water has overtopped the back levee at Myrtle Grove and Pointe Celeste. > > One homeowner nearby shared this 10AM view of the rising waters ahead of TropicalStormBarry. NBCNews pic.twitter.com/jNkzMXJrEV> > -- Morgan Chesky (@BreakingChesky) July 13, 2019In much improved news for New Orleans, however, the National Weather Service projects that -- even with Barry's wind-powered storm surge -- the already-swollen Mississippi will reach 17 feet above sea level -- as opposed to 20 feet expected a few days ago. Many of the city's levees protect the vibrant, historic city from up to 20 feet of flooding along the mighty river -- so New Orleans may avoid a worst-case scenario this weekend. Still, coastal flooding and the overtopping of other levees has already begun, and the brunt of rain has yet to come. WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?

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