Oil companies have shut a third of offshore U.S. Gulf of Mexico production ahead of Tropical Storm Barry, which could become a Hurricane late Friday, according to a National Weather Service (NWS) forecast.
It was expected to make landfall along the Louisiana coast - near Morgan City - on Friday night or early Saturday.
In its latest update at 13:00 local (18:00 GMT), the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) confirmed Storm Barry's winds had slightly weakened. The Mississippi River is already running abnormally high because of heavy spring rains and snowmelt upstream, and the ground around New Orleans is soggy because of an 8-inch torrent earlier this week.
As the storm began with overnight showers and significant winds, some motorists still managed to courageous the weather in spite of warnings of 20 inches (50 centimetres) of rain. The National Weather Service in Mobile has a flash flood watch in effect for several southwest Alabama counties and has said 4-7 inches of rain will be possible from Barry. "To put it in perspective, New Orleans gets about nearly six inches in the month of July".
Officials for the US Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the levees, insisted no significant breaching of the levees in New Orleans was likely. It's the heavy rains and flooding that'll be left behind after the storm passes.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said that President Donald Trump approved his request for a pre-landfall federal disaster declaration, which allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to prepare and pre-position federal resources.
Vice told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate the meals will be put in a freezer until the storm passes Monday, and then delivered throughout southern Louisiana. Some opted to flee the city, and tourism officials reported an exodus of out-of-town visitors on Friday.
Across the coast, many cities and parishes have issued mandatory evacuation orders, the governor said.
Yuda and Cecilia Lilo, from Bolivia, were among the tourists who stayed.
Officials said they were anxious the water could close Highway 23, cutting off a key road and the rest of the parish to the south. She hadn't yet decided whether to leave but wasn't taking any chances: "We're prepared". For the first time since their construction, all major floodgates on the Mississippi River are closed, he added.
US oil producers on Wednesday cut almost a third of their output in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of what could be one of the first major storms of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Resident Jessica Awad, 36, said she wasn't anxious.
"When I rode past the funeral home this morning, I was hoping that it doesn't flood", she said. "I have a kayak, two dogs that both have life vests, and I live in an upstairs apartment, so if anything happens, we're good".
Upon landfall, it was significantly weaker than expected and reduced to a tropical storm, but still resulted in flooding throughout the coast along the Gulf of Mexico.
The pumps can handle the removal of about a half inch of rain an hour.
Lake Charles is about 190 miles (305 kilometers) west of New Orleans. Sandbags were stacked outside hotels, shops and other businesses along Canal Street.
The storm is hardly the most monstrous to hit The Crescent City, but it's the first to hit with the MS running this high.