Tropical disturbance nearing the Gulf Coast


While we enjoy relatively calm weather here in the Miami Valley for the end of the work week, the Gulf Coast is bracing for soon-to-be Tropical Storm Barry.

As of 8 am this morning, this tropical disturbance has 35 mph sustained winds, just below the Tropical Storm threshold. It is forecast to become a Category 1 Hurricane by Saturday with a maximum wind speed of at least 74 mph. Hurricane Watches are already posted for much of the Louisiana coast through Sunday.

Right now, the storm is tracking west at only 5 mph. Eventually, the same cold front that is currently draped across the Miami Valley will steer the storm northward towards the Louisiana coastline.

Current surface map. High pressure over Texas and a cold front will steer this disturbance towards Louisiana.

There is still considerable uncertainty regarding the exact track of this system, due largely to the fact that it is still fairly unorganized. Where the storm makes landfall will determine which areas see the strongest winds and the heaviest rain.

Currently the European Model is taking the storm farther west with landfall occurring near the middle of the Louisiana coast. This scenario would deposit the most rain between Lafayette and New Orleans. The American Model is indicating a faster right turn, bringing the eye of the storm closer to New Orleans with the heaviest rain falling near New Orleans and points east.

Forecast rainfall through Sunday evening from the European Model.

Regardless of where landfall occurs, this slow moving storm will lead to a serious flooding threat across the southeast.

Parts of the Mississippi River are already in moderate flood stage because of the heavy rainfall that the Midwest has experienced this summer. This, combined with a possible 15 inches or more of rain from Barry, will likely cause flooding across Louisiana. In both New Orleans and Baton Rouge the Mississippi River is forecast to be at major flood stage by Saturday evening.

As this tropical disturbance continues to strengthen and organize today, the models should come to a greater consensus and the National Hurricane Center will continue to hone and update their forecast every few hours.

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