A swirl of clouds and rain south of the Florida Panhandle (Potential Tropical Cyclone 2) is expected to become tropical storm Barry in the next 24 to 48 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables, Florida.
Winds were around 30 mph Wednesday afternoon, just shy of tropical depression status.
Heavy rain swamped New Orleans on Wednesday as the remnants of a thunderstorm system crossed the region and moved over the Gulf, flooding city streets and bringing back memories of problems caused by poor drainage in August 2017.
A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans said the agency was not expecting widespread overtopping of the levees, but there are concerns for areas south of the city, according to the Associated Press.
The river was expected to rise to 20 feet (6 meters) by late Friday at a key gauge in New Orleans. The area is protected by levees 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.6 meters) high, he said.
Some areas of the city received 7 to 10 inches of rain in a few hours Wednesday morning. A waterspout was observed in the western portion of the New Orleans metro area.
A remnant thunderstorm system will initiate tropical storm formation in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Warm water (84-88 degrees) and little wind shear are conducive to hurricane formation. July accounts for 8 percent of named storms in the Atlantic Basin, according to NOAA records.
Torrential rain and hurricane-force wind gusts are expected to impact Louisiana and surrounding areas in a swath from Alabama to east Texas, depending on the eventual track.
Storm surge watches have been issued for portions of the Louisiana coast.
The governors of Louisiana and Texas are urging residents to prepare for the worst as Barry likely strengthens into a hurricane by Friday, before churning north and making landfall.
“We’re confident the levees themselves are in good shape. The big focus is height,” spokesman Ricky Boyett said.
After making landfall sometime on Saturday, heavy rain will move northward into the lower Mississippi Valley this weekend, triggering more flooding.