That meandering mass that is giving the Gulf Coast a potentially dangerous soaking has become Tropical Storm Barry, the second named storm of the Atlantic Basin hurricane season.
Late Thursday it was about 90 miles from the mouth of the brimming Mississippi River, with peak winds of 45 mph, just passing the naming threshold of 39 mph.
However the National Hurricane Center forecast has issued a hurricane warning for the Louisiana coast, where it is forecast to make landfall Friday.
After it weakens and gets stripped of its tropical-storm status, its drifting remnants could affect the Philadelphia region next week, the National Weather Service says. It actually might even have an indirect impact around here today.
The front that is going set off possibly strong storms later today is generating strong southerly winds that are importing some of that ultra moist air that is fueling Barry, said Jonathan O’Brien, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Mount Holly.
That’s why the air feels like water-vapor soup and the region is under a flash-flood watch for 1 to 3 inches of rain or possibly more in downpours.
O’Brien said the front should rout the water vapor once it passes through the region tonight, but after a few dry days, Barry’s remnants might become an issue, he said.
In the meantime, “all eyes are on the Gulf Coast,” said Karin Gleason, a meteorologist at the National Centers for Environmental Information.
She is the keeper of the government’s “extremes index” and has been tracking the extraordinary spike in excessive rains in the United States, which just experienced its wettest 12-month period on record.
Parts of New Orleans had experienced close to 10 inches of rain since early Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
In addition, storm-surge warnings and watches have been posted, and forecasters are warning of “life-threatening inundation.”
Said Gleason: “You hate to see something like this.”