By now you have probably heard of tropical storm Barry. It started as a disturbance on land, moved into the gulf and intensified, and is now heading back toward the Louisiana Coast where it will make landfall.
Currently Barry is a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds at 70 mph, a central pressure of 991 millibars and is moving northwest at 5 mph. For comparison, a severe thunderstorm warning is issued for wind gusts of 58 mph or greater.
The latest forecast from the National hurricane Center has Barry making landfall as a high end tropical storm or low end category 1 hurricane.
Often times in tropical storms, the water associated with it is much more dangerous and deadly than the wind. In Barry’s case, storm surge looks to inundate much of the Louisiana coast. Some areas are expected to see 3-6+ feet of water above the ground thanks to storm surge.
Storm surge is an abnormal rise in water over and above the astronomical tide and occurs when strong winds push and pile up water toward the shore.
Only a small percent of the water rises as a result of low pressure in the center of the storm. Obviously when significant storm surge happens, devastating flooding occurs.
That is just one half of the equation. Due to Barry’s slow movement, torrential rainfall will fall over the same areas experiencing storm surge, leading to life threatening flooding. Over 10 inches of additional rain are possible in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.
Therefore, wind is only a minor threat to life and property compared to the water based impacts with tropical storm Barry.