Barry Strengthens Into a Hurricane Near the Louisiana Coast

Former Tropical Storm Barry strengthened into a hurricane on Saturday morning.  The National Hurricane Center designated Barry as a hurricane on Saturday morning based on data from surface weather stations and from reconnaissance aircraft.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Barry was located at latitude 29.6°N and longitude 92.0°W which put it about 40 miles (65 km) south of Lafayette, Louisiana.  Barry was moving toward the northwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 993 mb.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle, Louisiana. A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the portion of the coast from Intracoastal City to Cameron, Louisiana. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for the portions of the coast from the Mouth of the Pearl River to Grand Isle, Louisiana and from Intracoastal City to Sabine Pass, Louisiana. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and New Orleans.

Former Tropical Storm Barry strengthened on Saturday morning.  Many more thunderstorms developed just south and east of the center of circulation.  The pressure gradient tightened near the center of Hurricane Barry and the wind speeds increased to hurricane force.  The hurricane force winds were occurring in the eastern side of the circulation.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 45 miles (75 km) from the center on the eastern side of Hurricane Barry.  The winds were weaker on the western side of Barry.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 170 miles (280 km) from the center.

Hurricane Barry is unlikely to strengthen significantly before the center moves over the coast of Louisiana.  Almost half of the circulation is over land.  The wind speeds will decrease gradually after the center moves over land.

Hurricane Barry will move around the western end of a ridge of high pressure.  The ridge will steer Barry slowly toward the northwest during the next few hours.  Barry will move more toward the north on Sunday.  On its anticipated track the center of Hurricane Barry will make landfall southwest of Lafayette, Louisiana near Abbeville.  The center of Barry will move northward over western Louisiana on Sunday.

Hurricane Barry will cause mainly minor wind damage over the eastern half of Louisiana.  There also could be widespread power outages.  On the eastern side of Hurricane Barry southerly winds were pushing water toward the coast.  A storm surge of 6 to 9 feet (2 to 3 meters) could occur just to the east of where the center makes landfall.  Southeasterly winds were causing flooding around the western side of Lake Pontchartrain.  Several bands in the eastern side of Hurricane Barry were dropping heavy rain.  Persistent heavy rain is likely to cause flooding in some locations.  Flash Flood Watches were in effect for parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.