Experts estimate that the total damage and economic loss caused by Tropical Storm Barry — which is set to deliver a punishing blow to the Gulf Coast this weekend, possibly as a hurricane — will be upwards of $10 billion.
“It’s no Katrina,” explained AccuWeather senior meteorologist and lead hurricane forecaster Dan Kottlowski. “But this, by far, will be a very damaging weather event.”
Barry, which was strengthening throughout the day Friday, was slated to become a potential Category 1 hurricane before making landfall along the Louisiana coast sometime overnight. New Orleans and parts of southwestern Mississippi were expected to get the worst of it.
“Even though it’s only a Cat 1, it’s still serious and very problematic,” Kottlowski told The Post. “New Orleans had already gotten 10 inches of rain over the last 36 hours and some places were already facing major flooding problems. Also, the Mississippi River has been flooding. So right now, New Orleans is looking at a significant rise in water.”
Meteorologists expect the storm surge in NoLa to be between 3 to 5 feet — with up to 18 inches of rain forecast for the entire region.
Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city in 2005, had a storm surge between 25 and 28 feet, according to Kottlowski.
“[Barry] is smaller and the wind is not nearly as strong or as concentrated as it was with Katrina, but it’s still a high impact storm — and people need to realize this,” said the hurricane forecaster. “It’s a slow moving storm, and those are the ones that produce the most rainfall and the most heavy rainfall.”
Barry was reportedly heading west-northwest across the northern Gulf of Mexico at 5 mph on Friday. It was expected to make landfall along the Louisiana coast — near Morgan City — on Friday night or early Saturday. New Orleans residents were bracing for a rise in water of up to 5 feet.
City officials issued a storm warning earlier in the day, asking people “to stay at home and shelter in place.”
“Have commodities and supplies to last you an upward of 72 hours,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “We are continuing to monitor heavy rainfall, storm surge, and levels of the Mississippi River.”
The biggest worry has been the flooding, officials said. The Mississippi River — which flows into NoLa and sits almost directly in the path of the storm — has recently seen the most flooding in its recorded history.
Barry is expected to only make things worse.
“AccuWeather has determined that the overall damage from all this will be between $8 and $10 billion,” Kittlowski told The Post. “If that doesn’t force people to react to this and listen to their local officials [when they tell them to evacuate] then I don’t know what else we can tell them.”
AccuWeather’s estimate is said to be based “on an analysis of damages expected from flooding caused by very heavy rainfall over several states and storm surge.”
“The estimate includes damage to homes and businesses, as well as their contents and cars…job and wage losses, farm and crop losses, contamination of drinking water wells, infrastructure damage, auxiliary business losses and the long-term impact from flooding, in addition to the lingering health effects resulting from flooding and the disease caused by standing water,” the outlet explained on its site.
“AccuWeather’s damage estimate incorporates independent methods to evaluate all direct and indirect impacts of the storm based on a variety of sources, statistics and unique techniques to estimate damage developed over a decade.”