Louisiana may get hit by a hurricane this weekend. New Orleans is already flooded.

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A potential hurricane Barry may hit Louisiana. Here’s what we know.

A storm is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, and the National Hurricane Center expects it to become a hurricane by Saturday, with potential impacts along the coast of Texas, Louisiana, and, potentially, in the city of New Orleans.

The storm could bring 18 inches of rain to the region, which isn’t good, considering that the region is already inundated with rain. The city of New Orleans flooded this week from rain, with many streets covered with a dangerous amount of water. The Mississippi River is expected to rise to 19 or 20 feet by the weekend, which is near the height of the city’s levees.

By Thursday, the storm is forecast to intensify into a tropical storm, and will be named Barry. By Saturday, it may have winds at 85 miles per hour, making it a category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.

The wind speed is just one of the dangerous components of the storm. (In general, coastal flooding tends to be the deadliest aspect of a hurricane.)

In this hurricane, storm surge — the seawater pushed onshore by the hurricane’s winds — may top 3 to 5 feet, flooding low-lying areas (of which Louisiana has plenty). This storm is also expected to generate a lot of rain — more than a foot of it in some areas — which can contribute to inland flooding along the banks of rivers.

It’s still early and forecasts can change. But here’s the forecast as of Wednesday afternoon from the National Hurricane Center.

 NOAA

And here’s the forecast for rainfall.

 NOAA

Finally, here are the key messages the National Weather Service wants the public to know:

1. A tropical depression is expected to form later today or Thursday. Conditions appear favorable for this system to strengthen to a hurricane at it approaches the central Gulf Coast by the weekend.

2. Dangerous storm surge is possible in portions of southeast Louisiana, and a Storm Surge Watch has been issued for this area. The risk for dangerous storm surge impacts also exists farther west along the Louisiana coast into the Upper Texas coast, and additional storm surge watches may be needed later today or tonight. Residents in these areas should monitor the progress of this system and listen to any advice given by local officials.

3. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for portions of the Louisiana coast and additional Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watches could be needed later today or tonight for the remainder of the Louisiana coast and the Upper Texas Coast.

4. The system has the potential to produce very heavy rainfall along and inland of the central Gulf Coast through early next week. For more information, see products from your local National Weather Service office and the NOAA Weather Prediction Center.

How to follow Barry

  • Follow the New Orleans branch of the National Weather Service on Twitter
  • The National Hurricane Center has a page updating every few hours with the latest watches and warnings for Barry. Check it out.
  • Follow the Capital Weather Gang’s Twitter account. These folks tend to live-tweet storm updates.
  • Here’s a Twitter list of weather experts via meteorologist Eric Holthaus. These experts will give you up-to-the-second forecasts and warnings.