Some residents and visitors are preparing to flee New Orleans as Tropical Storm Barry closed in and officials warned of extreme rain and flooding if the storm makes landfall by early Saturday as the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019.
In the latest update Thursday afternoon, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour.
Forecasters issued a storm-surge warning of up to six feet for a stretch of Louisiana coastline south of already-sodden New Orleans.
Rain was an equal danger, given that the lower Mississippi River, which runs through New Orleans, has been above flood stage for six months.
According to the National Weather Service, the lower Mississippi is forecast to peak at 19 feet on Saturday, the highest it has been since 1950.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said he expected the storm to measure a Category 1, the lowest rung on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane wind strength, when it comes ashore.