Port of New Orleans Gets Ready for Tropical Storm Barry
The Port of New Orleans has begun preparations for the arrival of Tropical Storm Barry, which is expected to make landfall as a hurricane this weekend. A hurricane warning has already been issued for the central Louisiana coast, with high winds, heavy rains and a dangerous storm surge expected.
Flooding may well be the most pressing concern with Storm Barry, as it is expected to deposit at least six inches of rain across the eastern half of the state (and in some areas, more than 20 inches). The Mississippi River is already near flood stage at New Orleans, and the extra rainfall will add to the water level.
In preparation for the storm's arrival, the Port of New Orleans has closed its administration building to nonessential personnel, shut its Napoleon Avenue container terminal and halted cargo operations along the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (the Industrial Canal). The Flood Protection Authority-East has closed all floodgates along the canal, and the closures will limit access to properties along the canal, the port said. Floodgate closures at Henderson Street and Felicity Street will also shut off access to much of the port's downtown waterfront.
The Port of South Lousiana - the Mississippi River megaport for bulk cargoes - will close its offices on Friday, but its commercial facility operations continue.
On the Mississippi below New Orleans, large vessel transits have come to a halt. The Associated Branch Pilots - the pilots' association for the Mississippi below New Orleans - told Nola.com that its last vessels in or out before the storm transited Wednesday afternoon. The Captain of the Port for Sector New Orleans set Port Condition Yankee at 1100 hours on Thursday, placing restrictions on vessel and port operations, and Port Condition Zulu is expected midday Friday. Oceangoing vessels over 500 GT must prepare to evacuate areas affected by the notice unless they have an approved plan to stay in port.
The Carnival Cruise Line ship Carnival Valor was due to return to her home port berth in New Orleans on Thursday, but with the closures, Carnival said that it will divert the vessel to Mobile, Alabama instead. Passengers scheduled to board for the next voyage will still gather at the New Orleans terminal Thursday, and Carnival will provide them with bus transportation to meet the ship in Mobile, two hours by road to the east.