WFLA (TAMPA) – Tropical Storm Barry has strengthened further this morning with sustained winds at 65 mph as of the 11 am advisory. Further strengthening is possible before it makes landfall in Louisiana sometime tonight or Saturday. The center of Barry is located about 100 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 115 miles south southeast of Morgan City moving only WNW at 5 mph.
Barry will continue to slowly strengthen before making landfall early Saturday morning in Louisiana. Winds are still forecast to reach 75 mph, category 1 hurricane strength, briefly before it moves ashore. Thereafter, gradual weakening will occur. Barry will slowly move north through the lower Mississippi River Valley.
The biggest hazard with Barry continues to be the water threat. Storm Surge Warnings are in place from Intracoastal City to Shell Beach. The highest water rise is expected from the mouth of the Atchafalaya River to Shell Beach with 3 to 6 ft of water could rise above the tide. 2 to 4 ft of water could rise from Shell Beach to the Mississippi/Alabama Border and in Lake Pontchartrain. 3 to 5 ft is forecast from Intracoastal City to the mouth of the Atchafalaya.
As Barry moves inland over the lower Mississippi River Valley, winds will weaken quickly but the slow forward movement of the storm will increase the flooding threat from rainfall. Flash flooding and river flooding are extremely likely through early next week according to the National Hurricane Center. The forecast is calling for potentially upwards of 20 inches or more of rain to fall through Monday. The exact location of this rainfall will depend on landfall. Highest amounts will accumulate along and to the east of Barry’s center.
Tropical storm conditions will be felt later today along the central Gulf Coast with hurricane force winds beginning later tonight or early tomorrow morning. Storm Team 8 and the National Hurricane Center will also be watching for weak but quick spin up tornadoes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama as rain bands move ashore.