Hurricane Barry: Tropical Storms and Floods Hits New Orleans

  • More than 60,000 homes were out of power this morning. All landings and departures at Louis Armstrong International Airport were canceled
  • Residents were warned to prepare for the storm by supplying their homes with drinking water and non-perishable food, as well as other emergency supplies.
  • El Nino conditions tend to increase rainfall and bad weather in flooded areas.

Hurricane Barry struck the mainland Saturday on Louisiana coast, causing heavy rains and high winds off the coast, southern United States. The natural phenomenon weakened into a tropical storm after it reached the Intracoastal City region, with winds up to 70 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The cities of New Orleans and Lafayette registered the first floods in streets and avenues, while thousands of people were removed from areas considered risky. Authorities have issued an announcement that the entire population remain inside their homes.

Hurricane Katrina was an extremely destructive and deadly Category 5 hurricane that made landfall on Florida and Louisiana in August 2005, causing catastrophic damage; particularly in the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. Subsequent flooding, caused largely as a result of fatal engineering flaws in the flood protection system known as levees around the city of New Orleans, precipitated most of the loss of lives.

President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency on account of the damage that the weather could cause. President Trump’s emergency release frees federal resources to deal with Barry’s consequences.

More than 60,000 homes were out of power this morning. All landings and departures at Louis Armstrong International Airport were canceled. Before touching land, Barry’s wind gusts reached 75 mph. Rains and winds are seen as a “threat to life” for the region’s inhabitants, as well as being able to cause “potentially significant” flash floods and flooding of rivers on Saturday night.

Barry graduated on Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico from a tropical storm. New Orleans predicts a major storm with torrential rains that could leave the city flooded. The region has already been hit by rainfalls in the last hours. It is feared that the Mississippi River, whose flow has been above normal in recent weeks due to thawing and heavy rains, may overflow in some regions. There is also concern that the dams protecting New Orleans will be able to withstand bad weather conditions.

Many were destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city and left more than 1,800 dead.

Evacuations

Authorities have ordered thousands of people living in lower areas to leave their homes. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has not issued a citywide evacuation order because it is not a Category 3 or higher hurricane. Residents were warned to prepare for the storm by supplying their homes with drinking water and non-perishable food, as well as other emergency supplies.

El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific. El Niño is accompanied by high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific. El Niño phases are known to occur close to four years, however, records demonstrate that the cycles have lasted between two and seven years. The ENSO cycle, including both El Niño and La Niña, causes global changes in temperature and rainfall.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards described the storm as “very severe,” citing the NHC’s warning that floods could be potentially “deadly.” There will be “a lot of rain in Louisiana,” he said on Thursday. “There are three ways in which flooding in Louisiana: storms, high-level rivers, and rain. There will be three,” he added.

“The United States is separated by two for hundreds of miles,” said the president of Missouri Farm Bureau, an organization representing farmers in the region, describing the expansion of the Mississippi in the United States. As of June 10, about 200 meters of rivers along the Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas rivers were still indicating flood levels, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

We’ve seen more floods in the last decade than we’ve seen in the past few decades. Environmental scientist Samuel Munoz, a professor at Northeastern University, says that 2019 will enter the history books. It is “unusual” for the Great Plains region and the Midwest, he said, to have this amount of repeated strong storms and bad weather during the spring.

Part of this may be due to El Nino – a weather phenomenon that changes sea surface temperatures in the Pacific.

El Nino conditions tend to increase rainfall and bad weather in flooded areas,” explains Munoz. “Man-made climate changes intensify these natural variations, causing more rain in a year that would have been rainy,” Munoz claimed.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site. 

 


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