A storm swamped New Orleans street and paralyzed traffic Wednesday as concerns grew that even worse weather was on the way: A possible hurricane that could strike the Gulf Coast and raise the Mississippi River to the brim of the city's protective levees. The storm was associated with a broad area of disturbed weather in the Gulf that forecasters said was on track to strengthen into a hurricane by the weekend.
The system was expected to become a tropical depression by Thursday morning, a tropical storm by Thursday night and a hurricane on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The system was likely to be named Barry, and it would be the second named Atlantic storm this year. As of 5 p.m. ET Wednesday, it had maximum sustained winds of 30 mph, according to the hurricane center. Tropical storms have maximum sustained winds of at least 39 mph.
The system's center was located about 125 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the hurricane center said. It was moving west-southwest at 8 mph.
Lines of thunderstorms associated with the system ranged far out in into the Gulf and battered New Orleans, where as much as 7 inches of rain fell over a three-hour period Wednesday morning, forecasters said. Mississippi and Texas were also at risk of torrential rains.