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Barry Becomes a Hurricane Just Before Landfall in Louisiana

Update 2 pm Saturday: Barry made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near Intracoastal City, just southwest of Lafayette, Louisiana early Saturday afternoon. Sustained winds have since decreased slightly to 70 mph, as of the 2 pm ET update from the National Hurricane Center. Even though Barry is once again considered a Tropical Storm, the heavy rainfall and flooding risks remain high for several days following the storm.

The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Barry became a Category 1 hurricane Saturday morning, just prior to coming ashore in southern Louisiana.

As of 11 am Saturday, Hurricane Barry had maximum winds of 75 mph and was moving northwest at 6 mph. The season’s first hurricane was located 50 miles west of Morgan City, Louisiana or 40 miles south of Lafayette, Louisiana. The storm is forecast to slowly move over land Saturday afternoon, where it then gradually weaken as it moves in more of a northerly direction toward Arkansas on Sunday.

The new classification means "little in terms of overall impacts", according to Senior Hurricane Specialist Jack Bevin in his 11 am forecast discussion. Hurricane force winds were only noted by hurricane hunter aircraft in a small area just east of the center, and the storm had a "less than classical" appearance on satellite, he added. Minor wind damage is expected from Barry, especially near and east of its center of circulation, but this is not likely to be a widespread concern.

 

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Life-threatening flooding from persistent heavy rain, storm surge, and already high water levels on the Mississippi River are the biggest hazard from Hurricane Barry in portions of Louisiana and Mississippi. In a “key messages” statement Saturday, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said this event could be a “long duration heavy rainfall and flooding threat” through much of next week.

Hurricane Barry is more than 200 miles west of Florida, but residents along the Gulf Coast are still feeling its effects. High Surf Advisories have been issued for portions of the Florida Panhandle and sections of the west coast, where the risk of rip currents is also high through Sunday.

 

A few periods of heavy rain are still possible near Pensacola and the Emerald Coast from Hurricane Barry, but most of the state will experience a drying trend this weekend. The Flash Flood Watch earlier issued in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties has been cancelled by the National Weather Service. As a ridge of high pressure builds over the state from the Bahamas, even the number of afternoon thunderstorms should decrease, particularly over the Peninsula.

There are no other immediate threats from the Tropical Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico in the next week to ten days. The National Hurricane Center is monitoring a tropical wave several hundred miles east of the Leeward Islands, but believes it will dissipate before having the chance to develop into a formidable storm. The heart of hurricane season, when more than two-thirds of storm activity occurs, is still more than a month away. 

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