Tropical Storm Barry

9:36 a.m. ET, July 12, 2019

Our live coverage of Tropical Storm Barry continues here.

8:10 p.m. ET, July 11, 2019

Here's what you need to know about Tropical Storm Barry

As of late Thursday afternoon, Tropical Storm Barry was hurling winds of 40 mph in the Gulf of Mexico, but it's expected to continue to intensify, the National Hurricane Center said.

We're wrapping up our live coverage for the night, but we'll be back tomorrow. Here's what we know about the storm:

  • Barry is the first tropical storm to threaten the US this year: The forecast shows it as a strong tropical storm at landfall, possibly Saturday morning along the Louisiana coast, probably west of New Orleans. There is a significant chance that Barry could be a hurricane, with sustained winds of 74 miles per hour, when it makes landfall..
  • Warnings have been issued: The National Hurricane Center issued hurricane warnings for the Louisiana coast from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle. "This is a life-threatening situation," the hurricane center said.
  • Preparations are underway: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said 180 school buses and 150 tour buses were staged in Kenner, Gonzales and Lafayette for evacuations. The state also activated 3,000 members of the National Guard as result of the storm, he said.
  • The Port of New Orleans will be closed: The Port of New Orleans will be closed Friday due to floodgate closures along the Mississippi River.
8:00 p.m. ET, July 11, 2019

"The calm before the storm is so deceiving": New Orleans residents brace themselves for Barry

As a dangerous weather system spinning toward the Gulf coast intensified Thursday to become Tropical Storm Barry, some Louisiana residents aren't taking any chances and are choosing to evacuate. Others say they plan to ride the storm out.

Heather Cafarella, 41, a bartender at R Bar, said people aren't panicked, but they are asking each other if they're going to evacuate.

"It's not just the hurricane. We flood when there's heavy rain. It doesn't take much, unfortunately," she said Thursday.

Looking outside at the sunny street, Cafarella said, "The calm before the storm is so deceiving."

Michael Nedelman/ CNN
Michael Nedelman/ CNN

Herb James, 38, has lived in New Orleans since he was 11.

He is renting a scooter, but it got stuck in a flood and isn't starting. James is worried about the storm and about having to pay the rental company for the damaged vehicle. He's crashing on friends' couches at the moment.

"If I have to evacuate, I don't have anywhere to evacuate to," James said.

Michael Nedelman/CNN
Michael Nedelman/CNN

7:32 p.m. ET, July 11, 2019

Jefferson Parish pumped enough water to fill 242 million, 5-gallon bottles in an hour

Jefferson Parish President Michael Yenni speaks at news conference on Thursday ahead of Tropical Storm Barry.
Jefferson Parish President Michael Yenni speaks at news conference on Thursday ahead of Tropical Storm Barry. WVUE-DT

Jefferson Parish President Michael Yenni said the parish pumped so much water that they could fill up an Olympic-sized swimming pool in two seconds.

Yenni said they could fill up 242 million, 5-gallon water bottles in an hour with the amount of water they pumped.

The pumps were running at 99.3% on Wednesday. 

7:05 p.m. ET, July 11, 2019

How Louisiana is preparing for Tropical Storm Barry

Matt Harrington boards up a Vans shoe store near the French Quarter in New Orleans as Tropical Storm Barry approaches on July 11, 2019.
Matt Harrington boards up a Vans shoe store near the French Quarter in New Orleans as Tropical Storm Barry approaches on July 11, 2019.  SETH HERALD/AFP/Getty Images

The National Guard has been activated and buses have been staged in three Louisiana cities ahead of the tropical storm, the governor said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said 180 school buses and 150 tour buses were staged in Kenner, Gonzales and Lafayette for evacuations.

The state has activated 3,000 members of the National Guard as result of the storm, he said.

Edwards has also requested a federal emergency declaration.

CNN's Jamiel Lynch contributed to this reporting.

6:37 p.m. ET, July 11, 2019

Morgan City mayor worried rains will exceed city's ability to pump

Morgan City Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said he's concerned the rain will overwhelm the city’s pump system.

The entire city's drainage system operates under a pump system. He said he’s been told to expect 15 to 20 inches of rain in Morgan City. 

“We can handle the first 5 inches, but after that, we can pump one inch per hour," the mayor told CNN. "If we get rain greater than that it will exceed our capacity to pump it out,”

Grizzaffi continued: “We’re buckled down. Three days ago, I wouldn’t get out of my recliner with the forecast."

He went on to say a "big rain" is coming to Morgan City.

“The doom and gloom has shifted," Grizzaffi said.

Here's a list of the city's floodgate closures:

6:19 p.m. ET, July 11, 2019

The Mississippi River is not expected to overtop the levee, Louisiana governor says

The Mississippi River is seen in New Orleans as Tropical Storm Barry approaches on July 11, 2019.
The Mississippi River is seen in New Orleans as Tropical Storm Barry approaches on July 11, 2019. SETH HERALD/AFP/Getty Images

The Mississippi River is not expected to overtop the river levee based on current forecast models, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.

The governor said the National Weather Service and the Army Corps of Engineers informed his office about the river levee.

Why this matters: Barry will inundate Louisiana at a terrible time — when rivers like the Mississippi are already flooded. Unusually high river levels from severe flooding this year could lead to an unprecedented challenge when Barry makes landfall.

In New Orleans, the Mississippi River was more than 16 feet deep on Thursday. At this time of year, it should be more like 6 to 8 feet, said Jeffrey Graschel, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service's Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center.