Update 11 p.m. EDT July 13: By early evening, New Orleans had been spared the worst effects, receiving only light showers and gusty winds. A National Weather Service forecaster said the city may escape with only 2 to 4 inches of rain.
Barry developed from a disturbance in the Gulf that surprised New Orleans during the Wednesday morning rush with a sudden deluge that flooded streets, homes and businesses. For several days, officials braced for more flooding. But as sunset approached, the city saw only intermittent rain and wind, with occasional glimpses of sunshine.
Barry was moving so slowly that heavy rain was expected to continue all weekend.
Forecasts showed the storm on a path toward Chicago that would swell the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.
Update 6 p.m. EDT July 13: Tropical Storm Barry’s winds have weakened and the Louisiana coast is no longer under a hurricane warning.
The National Hurricane Center said that the storm’s maximum sustained winds have fallen to 65 mph. Officials expect Barry to weaken and become a tropical depression Sunday as it moves inland, meaning its winds would fall below 39 mph.
The center continues to warn of dangerous storm surge, heavy rains and strong winds.
The hurricane warning that had been in effect from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle has been downgraded to a tropical storm warning. Also, the Louisiana coast east of the mouth of the Mississippi River is no longer under a tropical storm warning.
UPDATE 2 p.m. EDT July 13: Barry has been downgraded from a Hurricane to a Tropical Storm as it makes landfall in Louisiana, the National Hurricane Service announced just before 2 p.m. EDT.
The Tropical Storm made landfall by Intracoastal City, Louisiana, the NHS said. An NHS advisory warned residents of "Dangerous storm surge, heavy rains, and wind conditions continuing across the north-central gulf coast."
This is a developing story.
UPDATE 11:10 a.m. EDT July 13: Barry has officially strengthened to a hurricane as it moves onto the Louisiana coast, according to the National Hurricane Service.
Hurricane Barry has maximum sustained winds of up to 75 mph, and the center of the storm is about 40 miles south of Lafayette, Louisiana, according to the NHS.
Original report: Slow-moving Tropical Storm Barry strengthened and is on the verge of becoming a hurricane Saturday morning as it took aim at the Louisiana coast.
According to the National Hurricane Center's 8 a.m. EDT intermediate advisory, Barry had sustained winds of 70 mph as it inched slowly toward the Louisiana shore. The eye of the storm was located 50 miles west-southwest of Morgan City, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The system is moving northwest at 5 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The next advisory by the National Hurricane Center is scheduled for 11 a.m. EDT.
Storm surge, heavy rains and wind were beginning to affect the north-central Gulf coast as Barry prepared to make landfall, WDSU reported.
By early Saturday, more than 33,000 people were without power in southeastern Louisiana, according to Entergy's online outage map.
Earlier Friday, Coast Guard officials said the Mississippi River was closed to all vessel traffic, NOLA.com reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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