(NEW YORK) — Tropical Storm Barry has formed in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday morning as the dangerous storm nears the coast, threatening to bring heavy rain, flash flooding, storm surge and hurricane conditions.
The storm will likely reach hurricane strength on Friday or Saturday before it makes landfall early Saturday along the Gulf Coast.
Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish and Grand Isle are already under mandatory evacuations.
“Plaquemines Parish Government has taken all precautions in preparing for Tropical Storm Barry,” Parish President Kirk Lepine said in a statement. “Additional rainfall, high winds, and storm surge are expected.”
In Lafitte, Louisiana, residents rushed to fill up sandbags.
Heavy rains already inundated New Orleans on Wednesday, flooding streets and homes and leaving drivers stranded. As much as 9 inches of rain fell in the city, with more to come.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell declared a state of emergency in the city.
New Orleans has not issued evacuation orders; Cantrell said Thursday, “sheltering in place is our strategy.”
Residents are encouraged to store 72 hours’ worth of food, water and medication for everyone in the home, including pets.
New Orleans Fire Department officials urged residents to pack emergency items in the event of a last-minute evacuation.
“We have to be prepared for all impacts,” the mayor said, from the heavy rain to the potential storm surge in the Mississippi River.
The main concern is the extreme rainfall that will hit parts of the Gulf Coast Friday through the weekend.
As much as 20 inches of rain is possible in parts of the area, especially in southern Louisiana. Major flash flooding is also possible, as well as a storm surge up to 6 feet along the Louisiana coast, including New Orleans.
Current forecasts show the Mississippi River will crest at 20 feet on Saturday. While flood walls and levees along the Mississippi River in New Orleans are designed to withstand this height, they will truly be tested.
Some of the heavy rain will also spread into parts of Arkansas and Mississippi this weekend and next week.
Tornadoes will also be possible Thursday night and Friday across Louisiana and Mississippi as the storm comes closer to shore.
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