Super-storm Barry slowly swept through Louisiana and into Arkansas on Sunday, producing thunderstorms and torrents of rain that may cause widespread flooding.
It was reclassified from a tropical storm to a tropical depression late Sunday afternoon and Barry spared New Orleans and did not cause any major damage as it weakened from a Category 1 hurricane. No fatalities have been reported.
After making landfall Saturday, Barry moved toward Shreveport on Sunday. The National Hurricane Center warned of possible flooding from Louisiana northward through the lower Mississippi Valley.
Eight inches of rain fell Sunday in parts of the Mississippi counties of Jasper and Jones, and more was possible into the night. As more rain pounded already devastated agricultural areas, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant called on the federal government to install pumps.
“The Mississippi River has been at flood stage for 150 days,” Bryant said at a press conference. “This is a historical, disastrous flood and this is just making it worse.”
Barry was expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches over south-central Louisiana. In some places, rainfall could total 20 inches, the hurricane center said.
The heavy rainfall could cause trees to topple.
“The roots are so saturated that if any wind, or any kind of shift happens, they’re easier to come up out of the ground. It’s not snapping limbs – it’s the whole entire tree,” said Carrie Cuchens, who lost power at her home southeast of Lafayette, Louisiana.
In Morgan City, Louisiana, Lois and Steve Bergeron said the storm stirred up a lot of havoc in the yard, but “at least it didn’t hit our house,” Lois said.
The hurricane center said tornadoes were possible across portions of southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi, western Alabama, eastern Arkansas and western Tennessee. Preliminary reports from the Storm Prediction Center show four tornadoes hit Louisiana on Sunday.
About 130,000 Louisiana customers were without power at one point, before outages fell to about 56,000 Sunday evening.
The good news for the Southeast is that New Orleans’ levees held. The lower Mississippi River was opened to shipping Sunday morning, the Port of New Orleans
Barry made landfall as a Category 1 Hurricane – the first hurricane of the season – near Intracoastal City, Louisiana, about 150 miles west of New Orleans. The storm entered the coast with sustained winds of up to 75 mph.
Winds reduced to 35 mph by Sunday afternoon. And Barry is expected to reduce to a low pressure system by Monday night, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards gave an optimistic update Sunday evening.
“This was a storm that obviously could have played out very, very differently,” he said. “We’re thankful that the worst-case scenario did not happen.”