USA – Flash Floods in New Orleans, Louisiana Declares State of Emergency as Possible Hurricane Looms

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on 10 July, 2019, in preparation for an oncoming tropical storm.

An area of low pressure (named Potential Tropical Cyclone Two by the National Hurricane Center) developing in the northern Gulf of Mexico is likely to strengthen into a tropical storm and possibly a hurricane before if makes landfall this weekend, 12 to 14 July.

In a statement, Governor Edwards said the system will “likely produce storm surge, hurricane-force winds and up to 15 inches (381mm) of rain across the state.”

According to NWS, some areas may see more than 20 inches (508mm) of rain between 11 and 18 July 2019.

Predicted rainfall 11 to 18 July 2019. Image: NWS / NOAA

New Orleans Flash Floods

Parts of New Orleans already saw extreme rainfall levels early on Wednesday 10 July. National Weather Service (NWS) New Orleans, said via Social Media, “A FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY has been issued for Jefferson Parish! 4 to 6 inches have already fallen and 2 – 3 more is anticipated. Please do not drive in flooded roads! Seek higher ground if flooding!”

Local media said some streets in the city were under as much as 4 feet (1.2 metres) of water. Roads were closed and traffic and public transport severely disrupted. Some flights from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport were delayed.

The City of New Orleans closed City Hall and said “Non-essential employees should stay home, essential should remain where they are until conditions improve.”

Storm Surge

As Louisiana prepares for the oncoming storm, the National Hurricane Center warned of storm surges from the Pearl River to Intracoastal City of 3 to 6 feet (90 cm to 182cm).

A combination of torrential rain and storm surge could push the already swollen Mississippi River at New Orleans to levels not seen for over 90 years.

As of 10 July, predictions suggested that the river would reach 20 feet during the afternoon of 13 July. This would be the highest level of the river since the 1927 floods when it reached 20.5 feet. The city is protected by levees that were built in response to the 1927 floods. Some levees are as low as 20 feet in some areas.

Forecast levels of the Mississippi River at New Orleans. Image: NWS / NOAA

Gov. John Bel Edwards said, “This is going to be a Louisiana event with coastal flooding and widespread, heavy rainfall potentially impacting every part of the state.

“No one should take this storm lightly. As we know all too well in Louisiana, low intensity does not necessarily mean low impact. Now is the time to check your emergency supplies and get a gameplan for your family and pets. I urge the public to continue monitoring local media for weather developments and follow the directions of local officials. We expect multiple parishes to declare states of emergency, and we stand ready to assist our local partners with all available resources. My office is in constant communication with FEMA and we will continue to provide updates as necessary.”

Hurricane watches are in effect in southern Louisiana from the mouth of the Mississippi River westward to Cameron, Louisiana.

Predicted track of Potential Tropical Cyclone Two. Image: NHC

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