Several inches of rain have poured down on and has resulted in street flooding New Orleans during Wednesday morning. Hurricane Hunters are flying into the storm this afternoon to get a better idea of what its doing.
A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
The flooding along the MS could be compounded by heavy rainfall associated with Barry, which hit suddenly Wednesday morning before the storm had even formed.
"While it is too soon to forecast local impacts to the New Orleans area, the City of New Orleans encourages residents to review hurricane plans and prepare for rain, which is likely regardless of tropical development", according to a news release from Mayor LaToya Cantrell's office.
The storm could drop up to 12 inches of rain along the Central Gulf Coast through next week, with up to 18 inches falling in some areas. The NHC's forecast as the storm becoming a category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale and making landfall during the weekend.
As of right now, most forecast model data is taking the center of the system into far East Texas and Louisiana. Flood concerns, both from rainfall and storm surge, will remain high through then.
A lot of New Orleans was underwater this morning (and a lot of it still is). In order to support a tropical storm or hurricane, sea surface temperatures need to be about 27ºC. This could present an imminent possibility for disaster since the levees are only capable of protecting the city from surges up to 20 feet.
"However we're confident that there will be widespread heavy rainfall and coastal flooding".
Some oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been evacuated.
Even in absence of a hurricane, gusty thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes associated with a tropical depression or storm can be a threat to lives and property.
Storm surge: the combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.
The storm will make landfall on the coast at Texas or Louisiana. While that storm relatively weak, it was still responsible for six deaths along the coast, five of them victims who drowned in rip currents along the Florida and Alabama coasts.
Operations at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the only USA port where the largest crude tankers can load and unload, were normal on Wednesday morning, a spokeswoman said.
Beachgoers heading to the Gulf Coast this week could be greeted by the first tropical system to threaten the United States this year.