The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Hurricane Expected to Hit Louisiana This Weekend, and New Orleans Is Already Flooding
The developing storm system dumped eight inches of rain on the city in around two hours Wednesday morning, National Weather Service New Orleans Meteorologist Phil Grigsby told CNN, inundating roads and homes.
Valerie R. Burton described waking up to the deluge.
"There was about three to four feet of water in the street, pouring onto the sidewalks and at my door," Burton told USA Today. "So, I went to my neighbors to alert them and tell them to move their cars."
But the fear is that things could get much worse over the weekend. The storm is expected to move slowly at 8 miles per hour, giving it more time to dump rain in some places. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said around 10 to 15 inches of rain could fall between Friday and Saturday, as CNN reported.
While New Orleans itself is not in the projected path of the hurricane, meteorologists are still concerned the city could be flooded if the Mississippi crests at 20 feet, as is now predicted. New Orleans is only protected up to 20 feet.
UPDATE: The NHC and Corps of Engineers now expect #Barry's rains and storm surge to flood the Mississippi River at New Orleans to a crest of 20 ft.— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) July 10, 2019
That's exactly the height of the river levees. It would be the river's highest level in New Orleans since the flood of 1927. pic.twitter.com/iKn0CWKfmy
Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground explained how that might happen:
Developing Potential Tropical Cyclone 2 (PTC 2) in the Gulf of Mexico is predicted to bring a storm surge of 3 - 6 feet to Southeast Louisiana, which New Orleans' improved levee system would ordinarily be able to handle with ease. However, these are not ordinary times. The Mississippi River is near flood stage, with the waters of the river lapping just four feet below the lowest point in the levee system protecting the city. If PTC 2 intensifies into Hurricane Barry as forecast, the storm surge from Barry has the potential to move up the Mississippi River and come close to overtopping the lowest points in New Orleans' levee system. If Barry grows stronger than forecast and takes a track closer to New Orleans than currently forecast, the potential for serious storm surge flooding of New Orleans exists.
New Orleans resident Angela Catalano told CNN she already had two feet of water in her basement.
"I'm very concerned about the impending storm, with the Mississippi River near flood stage. I'm very worried about more flooding," she said.
A Nola.com article pinpointed levees along New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward, as well as along St. Bernard Parish and Algiers, that were only between 18 and 19.99 feet, according to Army Corps of Engineers levee data. These levees would be overtopped by a 20 foot flood.
"A 20-foot river height could cause overtopping at those locations, something that has never happened in New Orleans' modern history." Those locations in this case are largely poor neighborhoods https://t.co/OFsUvVMq3L pic.twitter.com/yVmw5LoALz— Brian L Kahn (@blkahn) July 10, 2019
However, corps spokesperson Ricky Boyett told Nola.com that the levees for the Lower 9th Ward were really between 20 and 21 feet.
"Our modeling does not show overtopping of the levees in the 9th," he said.
He said there was one levee segment in St. Bernard that might be at risk, and that officials would fight flooding there as needed.
Louisiana has only seen a July hurricane three times, and all of them were in the last 40 years, Holthaus said. Research suggests climate change might make this more likely as the Gulf of Mexico warms earlier; the Gulf waters are currently closer to August temperatures.
The Gulf of Mexico has been running a temperature all season. Thermodynamically it looks more like early August than it does early July. Important not just for potential intensity but also moisture tap for heavy rainfall. #92L pic.twitter.com/AG71cbpBNK— Michael Lowry (@MichaelRLowry) July 9, 2019
Meanwhile, the Mississippi has been at flood stage in southern Louisiana since Jan. 6, the longest period on record. In general, spring floods are happening earlier as the atmosphere heats up.
"Even if Barry steers away from Louisiana, this won't be the last time the region has to deal with the dual threat of extreme late-season flooding and extreme early-season hurricanes," Holthaus wrote. "As the climate continues to warm, the atmosphere will continue to be able to hold more moisture, increasing the likelihood of intense rainfall in already-wet areas."
- Potential Tropical Storm Barry to Impact Gulf Coast With Severe ... ›
- New Orleans weather: Flooding hits Louisiana as possible hurricane ... ›
- The history and reasoning for hurricane names ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
John Paul Stevens, the retired Supreme Court Justice who wrote the opinion granting environmental agencies the power to regulate greenhouse gases, died Tuesday at the age of 99. His decision gave the U.S. government important legal tools for fighting the climate crisis.
By Elliott Negin
On July 8, President Trump hosted a White House event to unabashedly tout his truly abysmal environmental record. The following day, coincidentally, marked the one-year anniversary of Andrew Wheeler at the helm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), first as acting administrator and then as administrator after the Senate confirmed him in late February.
By Tara Lohan
If you're a lover of wilderness, wildlife, the American West and the public lands on which they all depend, then journalist Christopher Ketcham's new book is required — if depressing — reading.
World hunger is on the rise for the third consecutive year after decades of decline, a new United Nations (UN) report says. The climate crisis ranks alongside conflict as the top cause of food shortages that force more than 821 million people worldwide to experience chronic hunger. That number includes more than 150 million children whose growth is stunted due to a lack of food.
By Adrienne L. Hollis
Because extreme heat is one of the deadliest weather hazards we currently face, Union of Concerned Scientist's Killer Heat Report for the U.S. is the most important document I have read. It is a veritable wake up call for all of us. It is timely, eye-opening, transparent and factual and it deals with the stark reality of our future if we do not make changes quickly (think yesterday). It is important to ensure that we all understand it. Here are 10 terms that really help drive home the messages in the heat report and help us understand the ramifications of inaction.
Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Senate Republican who has been a close ally of Donald Trump, did not mince words last week on the climate crisis and what he thinks the president needs to do about it.
By Marlene Cimons
Kyle Rosenblad was hiking a steep mountain on the island of Maui in the summer of 2015 when he noticed a ruggedly beautiful tree species scattered around the landscape. Curious, and wondering what they were, he took some photographs and showed them to a friend. They were Bermuda cedars, a species native to the island of Bermuda, first planted on Maui in the early 1900s.