Residents of the Gulf States are gearing up for a tropical storm – and a potential hurricane – on Thursday, causing violent winds and torrential rains.
Tropical storm Barry was preparing for the Gulf of Mexico and could hit the coast between Louisiana and Florida's Panhandle by Friday morning, forecasters said.
"Barry is expected to produce total rainfall totals of 10 to 15 inches near and inside the central Gulf Coast until early next week, with isolated maximum rainfall of 20 inches on parts." from eastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi, "according to a national hurricane. Bulletin of the center published at 10am.
Barry has the potential to become a hurricane by Friday or early Saturday, with precipitation that could be deadly.
"It's the water that is the most lethal part of these tropical systems – 90% of deaths in these systems are water," said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, at WDSU, a subsidiary of NBC in New Orleans.
The town of Grand Isle, Louisiana, south of New Orleans, ordered the forced evacuation of its inhabitants Thursday at noon.
The parish of Plaquemines, just southwest of New Orleans, had already begun evacuating residents on Wednesday afternoon.
"We are cautious," said parish president Kirk Lepine. "We want to make sure every resident is prepared and understands that this government will take care of everyone in their parish."
And United Airlines announced Thursday that flights connecting 13 airports on the Gulf Coast, including New Orleans; Jackson, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; and in Panama City, Florida – between Thursday and Sunday, it is possible to book again at no additional cost.