The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued hurricane watches for parts of coastal Louisiana on Wednesday, as conditions in the U.S. Gulf worsened. The NHC predicts Tropical Storm Barry will strengthen to a hurricane by Saturday, when it’s expected to make landfall.

Officials in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, have issued mandatory evacuation orders for the entire East Bank and parts of the West Bank from Oakville to Venice.

Potential storm surge has also prompted the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue a flood warning for the Mississippi River, including at New Orleans, through Saturday.

The NWS said the river could crest at 19 feet, or 2.3 feet below the record.

On Wednesday, Louisiana Governor, John Bel Edwards, issued a state of emergency.

“This is going to be a Louisiana event with coastal flooding and widespread, heavy rainfall, potentially impacting every part of the state,” Edwards said in a news release.

As a result, the Port of New Orleans will cease operations at noon on Thursday, July 11, as personnel and terminal operators finish storm preparedness procedures.

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