Hours of intense rain soaked New Orleans Wednesday, flooding streets and shuttering downtown stores, as the city braced for more damage in the coming days from a storm brewing off the Gulf Coast.
Weather experts warn the potential tropical cyclone could strengthen, possibly into a hurricane, in time to slam into the coast by the weekend.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday issued a state of emergency in preparation for the arrival of the weather system.
The looming storm is predicted to bring strong winds and more rain. It’s also expected to swell the Mississippi River, with forecasts predicting the river will crest around 20 feet on Saturday. This would threaten New Orleans’ levees of similar height.
The name “Barry” is reserved for the potential storm. No named storm has made landfall this year since hurricane season officially began in June.
Wednesday’s rainfall was only “indirectly related” to the brewing storm, said Andrew Orrison, a National Weather Service meteorologist. River flooding is a concern for the weekend “unless things change drastically,” Jeff Graschel, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, told BuzzFeed News.
Wednesday’s extreme storm brought up to eight inches of rain to some areas, within three hours, according to the city. Earlier in the day, the National Weather Service issued flash flood, thunderstorm, and tornado warnings for New Orleans and the surrounding areas.
The result was widespread flooding, such as to shop-lined Magazine street and tourist favorite Bourbon street.
The city’s Sewerage and Water Board, which manages the pumps, said that the pumping stations “were fully manned throughout the storm.”
City officials warned people to stay off the roads. Some people ditched their cars for kayaks and boats.