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."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
No longer will the options when we die be a choice between just burial or cremation. Soon it will be possible to compost your remains and leave your loved ones with rich soil, thanks to a new funeral service opening in Seattle in 2021 that will convert humans into soil in just 30 days, as The Independent reported.
The holiday season is supposed to be about giving and sharing, but often it is actually about throwing away. The U.S. generates 25 percent more garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year's than it does during the rest of the year. That's around one million extra tons per week, according to National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) figures reported by The Associated Press.
The brushfires raging through New South Wales have shrouded Australia's largest city in a blanket of smoke that pushed the air quality index 12 times worse than the hazardous threshold, according to the Australia Broadcast Corporation (ABC).
By David B. Goldstein
Energy efficiency is the cornerstone of any country's plan to fight the climate crisis. It is the cheapest option available, and one that as often as not comes along with other benefits, such as job creation, comfort and compatibility with other key solutions such as renewable energy. This has been recognized by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for at least a decade.
By Andrea Germanos
Over 500 groups on Monday rolled out an an action plan for the next president's first days of office to address the climate emergency and set the nation on a transformative path towards zero emissions and a just transition in their first days in office.