David K. Li, Alex Johnson
A hurricane warning was in effect Thursday as Tropical Storm Barry, threatening as much as 20 inches of rain and dangerous storm surges, headed for a likely Friday night collision with the Louisiana coast.
The National Hurricane Center said Barry was creeping along at 5 mph on a track that would take it over the central or southeastern coast of Louisiana late Friday or early Saturday, then move it into the lower Mississippi Valley on Sunday.
The hurricane warning covered Assumption, Lower Jefferson, Lower Lafourche, Lower Terrebonne, Upper Lafourche and Upper Terrebonne parishes but not rain-swamped New Orleans, which was — for now — under a tropical storm warning.
Forecasters said the storm’s slow movement would mean rain would remain over the coast for an unusually long time, resulting in a threat of severe flooding along the entire central coast of the Gulf of Mexico and well inland into early next week.
The hurricane center said flooding from Barry carried the potential for “devastating impacts across southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi,” and storm surge watches and warnings were in effect for much of the Gulf Coast from Alabama to the western Louisiana coast. Storm surges are life-threatening inundations of rising water moving inland.
“It’s the water that’s the most deadly part of these tropical systems — 90 percent of the fatalities in these tropical systems is the water,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham told NBC affiliate WDSU of New O