WIll New Orleans Flood? Tropical Storm Barry Prompts Concern as Disturbance Aims for Louisiana

New Orleans residents are facing a precarious situation this weekend as a tropical disturbance appears to be headed for the city and bring storm surge when the Mississippi River is already close to flood stage.

Tropical Storm Barry, which has been forecast to make landfall on Friday as a Category 1 Hurricane, could bring massive amounts of rain to the city, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The latest projections for the storm show Barry making landfall in South Louisiana over the weekend.

The combination could have the Mississippi spilling over the levees and flooding the Crescent City, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Corps spokesperson Ricky Boyett said he feels the levees will hold.

"We're confident with the integrity — the levees are extremely robust and designed to handle a lot of pressure," Boyett said.

Some areas of the river banks might need additional help, though, as the engineers will consult with local levee districts to determine oi large amounts of sand will be needed to make the levee banks higher to make a taller flood wall.

New Orleans Hurricane Flooding
A repaired section of levee wall that breeched during hurricane Katrina on the 17th street canal is seen in the rain as New Orleans prepares for flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 29, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Today marks 12 years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall which killed at least 1836 people. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Army engineers forecast the areas with the greatest risk of seeing spillover are the Lower 9th Ward, Algiers and St. Bernard Parish.

The Carrollton Gauge in New Orleans was at 16 feet on Wednesday morning, and has a flood stage at 17 feet. Additional sand could be added to make the walls up to 20 feet. However, storm surge from Barry could bring an additional 3 to 5 feet of water, making those low-lying areas vulnerable to even more flooding.

The Times-Picayune stated that the Mississippi has never flowed over the levees in the modern history of New Orleans, and it has rarely occurred downstream of St. Bernard Parish.

Any water that does flow over the levees would most likely be funneled into the city's internal drainage systems that would take it to Lake Pontchartrain, according to Richard Rainey, a spokesman for the city's Water and Sewage Board.

"On our end, we are monitoring it and we'll pump out any related inundation to the best of our system's ability," Rainey said.

While New Orleans did not take a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the effects caused a dam to breach and left the Lower Ninth Ward flooded up to rooftops. Katrina obliterated the Mississippi coastline.

Hurricane Ivan devasted Pensacola Beach, Florida, and surrounding areas from Mobile, Alabama to Panama City Beach, Florida in 2004.

Texas has endured a handful of hurricanes along its coast, most recently Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which dumped 50 inches of rain in Houston and wiped out towns along the state's coastal bend.

The state of Florida has experienced a long list of hurricanes, most recently with Irma, a Category 4 which made landfall in 2017 and Michael, a Category 5 in 2018.

Hurricane season began on June 1 this year and typically lasts up to six months. Barry is the second named storm of the season, but the first forecast to impact the United States. Subtropical Storm Andrea, the first named storm of 2019, arrived in late May, before the season officially began. However, Andrea developed in the Atlantic Ocean and did not impact a significantly populated area.