A STORM is fast approaching New Orleans and President Donald Trump has now declared a state of emergency.
But where is Tropical Storm Barry and where’s it heading? Here’s what we know.
What is Tropical Storm Barry?
Tropical Storm Barry, which is expected to flood New Orleans and threaten lives along the Mississippi River, is being fuelled by warmth in the Gulf of Mexico that was likely exacerbated by climate change, scientists said on Friday.
While no single storm can be linked directly to climate change, the trend of warming air and seas around the globe has caused conditions that scientists say will, on average, make storms stronger and rainier.
“The real increased threat from a warming climate is an atmosphere thats capable of producing higher intensity precipitation events,” said Jill Trepanier, an expert in extreme climatic and weather events at Louisiana State University.
She said warmer air in the Gulf of Mexico will likely add fuel to the storm, while warmer ocean temperatures there will fill it with vast amounts of evaporated water that can lead to dangerous flooding.
If sustained winds from the storm exceed 74mph, Storm Barry will be declared a hurricane and become the first of the 2019 Atlantic season.
Where is the storm?
Storm Barry has been gathering speed over the Gulf of Mexico in recent days.
Officials say sustained wind speeds have grown to 50mph (80km/h) and may still reach hurricane strength by the time it makes landfall.
Where is the storm heading?
The National Weather Service (NWS) say the storm is continuing to crawl at speeds of 5mph towards Louisiana.
Louisiana officials have warned residents that Barry, expected to make landfall on Saturday, could inundate areas along the lower Mississippi with up to 51 cm of rain.
The lower Mississippi has already been running at flood stage for months after the so-called “bomb cyclone” and other storms starting in March that dumped huge volumes of rain on Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri – something that could further feed moisture to Barry, scientists said.
Residents were ordered to evacuate some nearby areas, but New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said no evacuations were ordered from the low-lying city.
The city is particularly vulnerable to storms because it is “below sea level, protected by levees and pumping systems that remove rainwater, which cannot drain naturally,” the Environmental Protection Agency said on its website.
What preparation is taking place?
Trump has declared a state of emergency in the area.
Officials have ordered thousands of residents in some low-lying areas to evacuate.
Mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, has not issued a city-wide evacuation order because it is not a category three hurricane or above.
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Residents have been warned to prepare for the storm, by stocking up on drinking water and non-perishable food, as well as other emergency supplies.
President Trump’s declaration, made in advance of landfall, will make Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) resources available.
He posted on Twitter that national and local officials were working closely together and urged people to prepare.