A weather system heading toward the Gulf Coast now has a 90% chance of becoming a tropical storm, putting cities from Houston to Mobile, Alabama on alert and prompting oil rig evacuations in the Gulf of Mexico. But officials believe it is likely to become Hurricane Barry by the time it makes landfall.
Oil prices rose 4.5% a barrel on Wednesday to their highest level in more than a month after US crude inventories shrank and as major producers cut almost a third of offshore Gulf of Mexico production ahead of an expected storm. It even has the potential to strengthen into a hurricane, if it remains over the warm water long enough, according to Dan Kottlowski, a hurricane expert for AccuWeather.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially began June 1, but if Tropical Storm Barry continues to form over the Gulf of Mexico-and is eventually upgraded to Hurricane Barry-it would be the first major hurricane of the season.
There are a few key players in the development of this potential tropical feature - now dubbed "Invest 92L" (short for "investigation area") by the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC). Regardless, due to the heavy moisture content in the occurring thunderstorms, authorities along the coasts of the Gulf states will need to monitor the weather conditions closely as heavy rain will be a threat.
Massive rainfall, flash-flooding, and storm surges are already pummeling the city, including the famed French Quarter.
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The levees protecting the city are built to hold back the river to a depth of 20 feet, a level that forecasters warned could be reached by Saturday morning.
Rain will likely wrap around the system and scattered heavy rain is still possible in Central Texas, mainly east of Interstate 35, Saturday and Sunday. The city is protected to a height of 20 feet. But there is still a chance of some stronger storms developing in New Jersey. Storm surge is expected to be between three and five feet, and the storm is predicted to bring rainfall of at least 18 inches. With a lower wind speed, it would be a tropical depression.
Hurricane season is here, and the second named storm system of the year is on a path to Louisiana's coast.
The weather disturbance, now spinning off the coast of the Florida Panhandle, could either form as a tropical depression or a tropical storm. If Barry tracks well west of New Orleans, close to the border of Louisiana and Texas, the flood risk would decrease.