Here’s Barry: Tropical storm forms in Gulf and heads for Louisiana coast

The second named storm of the 2019 hurricane season is here and headed for the coast of Louisiana, where it could hit as a Category 1 hurricane — or stronger. It poses no risk to Florida.

Tropical Storm Barry formed Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center said winds inside the storm, which is headed west along the Gulf Coast, had reached 40 mph by the afternoon but the more serious threats were heavy rains and storm surge.

Hurricane watches have been issued throughout most of the Louisiana coast and forecasters warn of “life-threatening” storm surge. The highest inundation is expected between the mouth of the Atchafalaya River and Shell Beach.

The storm began as a disturbance over Georgia Tuesday morning before moving toward the Gulf. It dumped rain on the Florida Panhandle, still shell-shocked after last year’s Hurricane Michael, before moving to the Gulf. There it continued to pick up steam over the usually warm waters

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Forecasters with the NHC predict the storm could make landfall Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane, and they predict the slow-moving storm could bring a lot of heavy rain to the flood-vulnerable coast.

Another disturbance has also appeared in the Atlantic, several hundred miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. NHC forecasters say it could strengthen a bit over the next few days — they peg its chances at development at 10 percent in the next 48 hours — but it’ll likely encounter less favorable conditions over the weekend.

Alex Harris covers climate change for the Miami Herald, including how South Florida communities are adapting to the warming world. She attended the University of Florida.