Tropical Storm Barry maintaining strength as it nears the coast

Tropical Storm Barry gains little more wind speed, expected to strengthen into hurricane Friday

Orlando-area weather to benefit from Barry

A tropical storm watch and a storm surge warning are in effect for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, as Barry is expected to make landfall near the central Louisiana coast at some point Saturday morning.

There is a significant chance Tropical Storm Barry could reach winds of 74 miles per hour and turn into a hurricane.

"We do expect that this storm will be slow moving". According to the National Hurricane Center, unsafe storm surges, heavy rains and strong winds are expected across the north-central Gulf Coast.

"We could see an uptick in prices over the next few days", says Shawn Steward with AAA (Triple-A) Kansas.

The level of the Mississippi River, already swollen from historic rains and flooding upstream, was at 4.9 metres in New Orleans, about 30cm shy of flood stage. The river levees protect to about 20 feet, which the river may reach if predicted storm surge prevents the river from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is impossible to know exactly where the heaviest rain will fall, but any areas in Louisiana or MS or surrounding states that get one or two feet of rain will suffer major flooding, and the best evidence says, that's what people have to be prepared for. Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle are also at risk for extreme rain, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said Thursday. "That kind of rainfall in this system could cause flash flooding, cause ponding of water".

About 3000 National Guard troops along with other rescue crews were posted around the state with boats, high-water vehicles and helicopters.

President Donald Trump has already declared an emergency for the state on Thursday, which helps expedite any federal aid necessary to the state.

A Friday afternoon advisory from the U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm's maximum sustained winds remain near 65 miles per hour (104 kph).

As of early Friday, Barry was about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of the mouth of the MS, with winds around 50 mph (80 kph).

While some in low-lying places have been directed to evacuate, officials haven't ordered mandatory evacuations in the most populated areas.

Herb James has lived in New Orleans since he was 11 years old.

"I was born and raised here".

"We lost everything, and we started from scratch", Brock, an Air Force veteran, recalled.

Jesse Schaffer III of Meraux (MEE-roh) in St. Bernard Parish to the north was helping his relatives in Plaquemines Parish get to family members' houses in safer areas.

"You couldn't get into the French Quarter", she said.

Gulf water is already covering some roads near the coast.

A radar loop of Barry filled a TV screen at a brewery near downtown.

Before a storm hits, the company said its supply chain and merchandising teams prepare inventory at its four distribution centers that support hurricane response, ensuring they have emergency products like generators, gas cans and water. Forecasters say two or more feet of rain is expected and rain will fall where flooding has previously been an issue, the NWS says.

An SUV travels down Breakwater Drive in New Orleans near the Orleans Marina as water moves in from Lake Pontchartrain from the storm surge from Tropical Storm Barry.

However, the city did not plan to order evacuations because Barry was so close and because it was not expected to grow into a major hurricane.

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