Storm off Fla. has hur­ri­cane po­ten­tial

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Doyle Rice

The sec­ond storm of the 2019 Atlantic hur­ri­cane sea­son was likely to form along the Gulf Coast and could make land­fall around Louisiana on Satur­day as a treach­er­ous sys­tem.

The weather dis­tur­bance, spin­ning off the coast of the Florida Pan­han­dle, could ei­ther form as a trop­i­cal de­pres­sion or a trop­i­cal storm. If the de­pres­sion’s winds reach 39 mph, it would be­come Trop­i­cal Storm Barry.

It’s ex­pected to hit the Gulf Coast as a hur­ri­cane Satur­day, the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said.

“This sys­tem has the po­ten­tial to be­come a dan­ger­ous hur­ri­cane,” the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice in Lake Charles, Louisiana, said on its Face­book page. “The threat for dam­ag­ing winds and deadly storm surge is in­creas­ing.”

A trop­i­cal storm watch and a storm surge watch were in effect for por­tions of Louisiana as the sys­tem gathered strength Wed­nes­day.

The storm could bring more heavy rain and flood­ing to New Or­leans, which was in­un­dated with up to half a foot of

rain Wed­nes­day morn­ing, trig­ger­ing a flash flood emer­gency for the area. A tor­nado or wa­ter­spout was spot­ted near the Univer­sity of New Or­leans, WWL-TV said.

The Mis­sis­sippi River in New Or­leans is fore­cast to crest near 20 feet Satur­day, the weather ser­vice said – and the av­er­age levee height for New Or­leans is 20 feet, said me­te­o­rol­o­gist David Bernard of Fox 8 in New Or­leans.

Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia me­te­o­rol­o­gist Mar­shall Shep­herd called this “a po­ten­tially dire sit­u­a­tion.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Ed­wards de­clared a state of emer­gency Wed­nes­day for all of Louisiana be­cause of pos­si­ble flood­ing, winds and storm surge.

“There could be a con­sid­er­able amount of over­top­ping of Mis­sis­sippi River lev­ees in Plaque­m­ines Par­ish on both the east bank and the west bank,” Ed­wards said at a news con­fer­ence.

He or­dered the Louisiana Na­tional Guard to de­ploy sol­diers and high-wa­ter ve­hi­cles to the most vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas.

The Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said Wed­nes­day there’s a 100% chance a trop­i­cal de­pres­sion will form within the next 48 hours in the Gulf of Mex­ico.

“Re­gard­less of the even­tual track and in­ten­sity of the sys­tem, heavy rain­fall is ex­pected from the Florida Pan­han­dle to the Up­per Texas Coast ex­tend­ing in­land across por­tions of the Lower Mis­sis­sippi Valley, much of Louisiana and eastern Texas,” the hur­ri­cane cen­ter said.

BAM Weather me­te­o­rol­o­gist Ryan Maue said, “To­tals prob­a­bly will ex­ceed 20-30 inches in Louisiana.”

Ac­cuWeather me­te­o­rol­o­gist Dan Kot­t­lowski said, “Our great­est concern is for tor­ren­tial rain that would re­sult in life-threat­en­ing flood­ing.”

Of­fi­cials in New Or­leans are mon­i­tor­ing for po­ten­tial storm surge effects on the Mis­sis­sippi River, Ac­cuWeather said.

The most re­cent July hur­ri­cane to hit the con­ti­nen­tal USA was Hur­ri­cane Arthur in North Carolina in 2014, ac­cord­ing to Colorado State Univer­sity me­te­o­rol­o­gist Phil Klotzbach.

“The most re­cent July trop­i­cal storm land­fall was Trop­i­cal Storm Emily in Florida in 2017,” he said.

The strongest re­cent storm to make land­fall in the USA in July was Hur­ri­cane Dennis, which hit the western Florida Pan­han­dle on July 10, 2005, as a Cat­e­gory 3, the Weather Chan­nel said.

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