Barry could cause up to $10B in storm damage, meteorologists predict


City officials warned New Orleans residents on Friday to secure their homes, stock up on supplies and prepare to huddle indoors with Tropical Storm Barry poised to make landfall as the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019.

"It's no Katrina", explained AccuWeather senior meteorologist and lead hurricane forecaster Dan Kottlowski.

Barry will likely strengthen into a hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said, with winds of at least 74 miles per hour (119 km) by the time it reaches the central Louisiana coast on Saturday.

She said warmer air in the Gulf of Mexico will likely add fuel to the storm, while warmer ocean temperatures there will fill it with vast amounts of evaporated water that can lead to risky flooding.

"Even though it's only a Cat 1, it's still serious and very problematic", Kottlowski told The Post.

Louisiana officials have warned residents that Barry, expected to make landfall on Saturday, could inundate areas along the lower MS with up to 20 inches (51 cm) of rain. "This is the Mississippi River, already strained from a season of flooding".

While New Orleans authorities refrained from ordering evacuations and advised residents to shelter in place instead, tourism officials reported an exodus of hotel guests checking out early on Friday.

Tropical Storm Barry continues to become better organized as it tracks slowly toward the west at 3 miles per hour.

"Nobody should take this storm lightly just because it's supposed to be a Category 1 when it makes landfall", Gov. John Bel Edwards said. "It's a slow moving storm, and those are the ones that produce the most rainfall and the most heavy rainfall".

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The governor issued a warning to residents on Thursday, saying that Louisiana is particularly susceptible to flooding, but he expressed hope that the MS would not overflow its levees.

As others head to higher ground, Chef José Andrés' nonprofit World Central Kitchen announced Thursday it would set up kitchens in Lafayette and New Orleans ahead of the storm.

"Look, there are three ways that Louisiana floods: storm surge, high rivers and rain".

The level of Lake Pontchartrain, an estuary on the city's northern flank, rose by 3 feet on Friday, triggering the closure of a flood gate on a canal that breached during Katrina, said Derrick Boese, chief administrator for the local flood control agency. Still, he said he didn't expect the river to spill over the levees.

Weakening is expected after Barry moves inland.

"Well, I'm more concerned, because if it turns to the east, then we are on the wrong side of it, then we have a lot of rain, you have a lot of flooding going on", said Mayor David Camardellle of Grand Isle, LA.

Intense rainfall, like Barry is expected to bring, can trigger calamitous flooding.

"It's the large amount of water", he explains. Officials evaluated the areas that may be impacted, but also discussed resources that can be shared between the states.