The system was upgraded to Tropical Storm Barry as of the 10 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Storm Barry continued to swirl in the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Louisiana, but forecasters said late Thursday they no longer expected the storm to become a hurricane.

 

The National Hurricane Center said the intensity forecast has weakened somewhat, and a strong tropical storm with 70 mph winds is now predicted just before landfall somewhere along the Louisiana coast.

At 4 p.m. Thursday the storm was located about 90 miles south of the Mississippi River with winds of 40 mph. It was moving west at 5 p.m. and the barometric pressure had dropped to 1003 millibars.

A hurricane warning was issued for the Louisiana coast between Intracoastal City to Grand Isle. A tropical storm warning was up for Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, including metropolitan New Orleans. A tropical storm warning was also up from Intracoastal City to Cameron.

“Regardless of where the system eventually makes landfall, it appears that pretty much the entire forecast area will see significant impacts from this storm with the potential for heavy rainfall being the greatest threat,” National Weather Service meteorologists in New Orleans wrote in a morning forecast. “Rainfall amounts of 10 to 15 inches will be possible through the weekend with isolated amounts up to 20 inches.”

The system was upgraded to Tropical Storm Barry as of the 10 a.m. advisory from the NHC. Its winds were 40 mph and the central pressure was 1005mb.

A hurricane watch in effect for most of the Louisiana coastline and storm surge heights of 3 to 6 feet are expected west of the Mississippi and northwest of Lake Pontchartrain.

Although Louisiana’s flood control systems have undergone major upgrades since Hurricane Katrina, Weather Underground co founder Jeff Masters fears a slow-moving storm like 2012′s Isaac might overwhelm the defenses.

“If Isaac had hit when the Mississippi River was at flood stage, the surge could have overtopped the levees in New Orleans,” Masters said in his blog. “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.”

New Orleans was already hit with massive rains Wednesday, saturating the ground with up to 10 inches in some areas. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency for all of Louisiana on Wednesday.

“No one should take this storm lightly,” he said. “As we know all too well in Louisiana, low intensity does not necessarily mean low impact.”

Water temperatures in the mid to upper 80s are certainly warm enough in the Gulf of Mexico to support a hurricane.

While landfalling hurricanes are unusual in July, the would-be Barry isn’t unique.

According to Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach, the last hurricane to make landfall along the Gulf Coast in July was Hurricane Dolly in South Padre Island in 2008.

Since the satellite era began in the late 1960s, 12 out of 60 July named storms that have formed have done so in the Gulf of Mexico. The most recent was Tropical Storm Emily in 2017.