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Tropical Storm Barry closing in on Louisiana coast (forecast video)

Once again, Tropical Storm Barry is the focus of today’s weather. The storm will likely make landfall in the Louisiana coast early Saturday, July 13. Overall, the effects of the storm may not be long-lasting, but conditions will be rough for a while. President Trump has declared a sate of emergency for Louisiana, freeing up money and resources to help for relief and recovery. Also, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced emergency declarations, waivers, exemptions and permits so that drivers can assist with these efforts.

Tropical Alert

Tropical Storm Barry is getting closer to the Gulf Coast, still on track to make landfall Saturday morning in the central Louisiana coast, just west of Patterson and Morgan City. As of 11:00 a.m. today, July 12, sustained winds have increased to 65 mph. It could briefly intensify into a low-end Category 1 hurricane just before landfall. But prior to landfall, southern portions of Louisiana and Mississippi will see increasing rainfall and winds today. The rain, along with storm surge, will likely cause additional flooding across the region, including the New Orleans metropolitan area. This threat will continue through the weekend, with rain totals of 10 to 20 inches possible. Severe thunderstorms could pop up today, producing localized damaging winds, large hail and/or isolated tornadoes. Widespread wind damage is possible upon landfall.

Portions of I-10, I-20 and US-90 may become flooded and closed to traffic. Daily operations at area ports—New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the Port of South Louisiana in Laplace—as well as oil refineries will also be disrupted. Some offshore oil rigs have already been evacuated.

ConocoPhillips Alliance Refinery officials announced yesterday that they planned to temporarily suspend operations by early today. The refinery, located in Belle Chasse, is one of the largest in southern Louisiana. It handles a crude oil capacity of around 247,000 barrels per day and employees more than 800 people. The refinery lies within Plaquemines Parish’s mandatory evacuation zone. The much larger Marathon Petroleum refinery in Garyville, Louisiana has a crude oil capacity of 564,000 barrels per day. But, as of this morning, there is no notice on the company’s web site, Twitter or Facebook pages of the refinery shutting down during the storm.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued various alerts for the region, including a Hurricane Warning.

Other weather today

Isolated severe thunderstorms could pop up across the Carolinas today, and from the northern Rockies to the Great Lakes.

Watch out for very hot weather in the southwestern U.S. The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for inland portions of southern California, from Temecula to Los Angeles to Paso Robles. High temperatures in many spots will reach 100° to 115°. An Excessive Heat Warning is in place from Phoenix to Yuma, where highs will reach 110° to 115°. Drivers: pack a lot of extra ice and water, and take your breaks in comfortable, cool spaces.

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his 17 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.

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