Tropical Storm Barry (Photo Credit: National Oceanic Atmospheric Association)
Invest 92L, now known as Tropical Storm Barry, has been absolutely fascinating to watch develop over the last week. Barry formed very similarly to the way hurricanes in the Atlantic form – from a cluster of thunderstorms. In Africa, storms will move from east to west due to the tropical trade winds that blow near the equator. As the storms move off the coast of Africa, the systems maintain their unstable nature over the warm waters of the tropics and, as long as conditions are right, the storms will develop into a tropical depression, storm, and eventually hurricane. Barry formed in a similar fashion – a cluster of rotating thunderstorms that projected south into the steaming waters of the Gulf of Mexico and has since thrived and could potentially landfall as a Category 1. This case is much more interesting because not many areas of thunderstorms develop into hurricanes off of the United States, especially a hurricane that is not considered an “extra tropical cyclone” because it is forming in the mid-latitudes.
Will Barry pack a punch? It’s expected for flooding to be the main threat, as National Hurricane Center has discussed if it does become a Cat 1, it will be on the lower end of the category with winds averaging below 100 mph. Their track currently has Barry making landfall on the Louisiana coastline, which has already seen their fair share of flooding from storm systems that came through earlier in the week. Currently, there is a State of Emergency listed, but there will be no mandatory evacuations issued since the storm is below a Category 3. However, with the levees already facing their limits as it comes to the incredible flooding issues that Louisiana and much of the Southeast has experienced so far this year, the storm surge from Barry has a very good possibility of breaking those levees. Evacuation is stressed in low-lying areas. Barry is expected to move slow (averaging between 3-5 mph over the last 24 hours) as it comes inland leaving rainfall amounts of 15-20 inches at the area of landfall. Barry is quite a unique storm, however, just because it is only a Tropical Storm, with Category 1 at best, it is still strengthening (and expected to continue so as it makes landfall). The shear that it is propagating through to its north is not affecting it whatsoever, which is not a good sign.
Tropical Storm Barry may not sound scary, but with the area that it is projected to affect through the weekend and into early next week, the future is not looking promising. The Mississippi River is already at record flood stages, with many towns in the Delta still underwater and many farmers whose cropland is now a lake due to all the rain that was received in the early part of the year. The last disaster these communities need to experience is more flooding and that is an unfortunate reality as areas as far north as northwest Mississippi and Tennessee are expected to see 6-8 inches of rainfall over the next few days. Hopefully in the upcoming days, people along the coastline of Louisiana will take the warnings and evacuate and it won’t rain as much as models are projecting to help save some of the communities from being underwater any longer. However, this is something that will have to be closely watched as this progresses.
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©2019 Meteorologist Ashley Lennard