Tropical Storm Barry maintaining strength as it nears coast

Data pix.

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Tropical Storm Barry is maintaining its strength as it moves toward Louisiana, where it threatens to bring heavy rains and flooding.

A Friday afternoon advisory from the U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm's maximum sustained winds remain near 65 mph (104 kph). The hurricane center says additional strengthening is expected and the storm is forecast to be a hurricane when its center reaches the coast.

The slow-moving storm is prompting fears of flooding in New Orleans and surrounding areas. Hurricane warnings are in effect along the Louisiana coast.

The danger to New Orleans — bound by the Mississippi River on its south side, Lake Pontchartrain on its north side and tributaries leading into the nearby Gulf of Mexico on the east — is threefold: storm surges from the sea, rain from the sky and water from the rising river if the levees fail.

To prepare, workers were shoring up at least two areas along the city's levee system. They piled up "stoplogs," or metal beams, and topped them with sheet metal to add height to Harvey Lock, a break in the levee across the river from the city's Lower 9th Ward, which was all but wiped out during Katrina. Workers also used Hesco baskets, a type of flood barrier, to add 3 feet (almost 1 meter) to the river levee at the Corps' headquarters in New Orleans.

"We're confident in the integrity of the levees," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Spokesman Ricky Boyett said. "They're designed to hold this pressure."

Track Tropical Storm Barry here:

Continuing coverage. 

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