Storm in Gulf of Mexico strengthens into tropical storm; expected to turn into Hurricane Barry this weekend

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Tropical Storm Barry forms in the Gulf of Mexico; could become a hurricane as it threatens Louisiana.

Areas in the southern United States are bracing for a possible hurricane that could strike the Gulf Coast and raise the Mississippi River to the brim of the city’s protective levees.

Just before 11 a.m. Wednesday, the storm officially became Tropical Storm Barry. Forecasters said was on track to strengthen into a hurricane by the weekend.

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Barry is expected will move west across the northern Gulf for a couple of days, gaining strength over the near 90 degree water. By Saturday, it is forecast to turn northwest toward the south central coast of Louisiana. Right now, it appears landfall will occur sometime Saturday afternoon. The storm is forecast to be a Category 1 hurricane at landfall with winds of 85 mph.

Besides strong and potentially damaging winds, the storm will bring a storm surge which could cause flooding, and rainfall totals could top out 15-24 inches. Flash flooding will be a major issue.

The storm will weaken as it moves inland, but still bring gusty winds, torrential rain and isolated tornadoes to northern Louisiana and parts of Arkansas.

Since the storm hasn’t yet become a named system, the uncertainty of its track is still high and landfall is possible anywhere from Mississippi to the central Texas Coast.

No impacts are expected here in central North Carolina.

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