Residents of Louisiana are hunkering down in preparation for the imminent arrival of Tropical Storm Barry, which is expected to make landfall on Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane and cause serious flooding in parts of the southeastern United States
Gov. John Bel Edwards told the local population that authorities are taking the situation very seriously and that more than 300 buses are available at three different staging areas for people who may need to evacuate.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday night declared a federal state of emergency for Louisiana at Edwards' request, a move that the governor said on Twitter would "help us better coordinate and respond to the incoming storm."
Long lines were seen early Friday at the international airport serving low-lying New Orleans, a city devastated in 2005 by flooding from Hurricane Katrina, after some airlines decided to cancel flights due to the approaching storm.
That situation prompted the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to request that passengers make any changes to their itineraries via Internet or by phone to avoid further congestion at the airport.
"Flights continue to operate ... Check the status of your flight with your airline before coming to the airport. Arrive early. Lines may be longer than normal," the airport said on Twitter.
Discount airline Allegiant Air on Thursday announced the cancelation of three flights from New Orleans, while British Airways said it has canceled its once-daily flights to and from London on both Friday and Saturday.
Long lines also have formed in recent hours at service stations and grocery stores in Louisiana due to fears the storm will knock out power for several days.
In its latest bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center warned that the combination of a dangerous storm surge triggered by Barry and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland.
At 4 pm local time Friday in Louisiana (2100 GMT), Barry was packing maximum sustained winds of 100 kilometers (65 miles) per hour and centered over the northern Gulf of Mexico at a spot about 115 km south-southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana, and about 180 km west-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Barry is expected to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane (maximum sustained winds of between 119 kph and 153 kph) before making landfall but then weaken after moving inland.
At present, a hurricane warning is in effect along a coastal stretch running from the Louisiana towns of Intracoastal City to Grand Isle, which is located on barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico.
On its forecast track, Barry is projected to make landfall over the central Louisiana coast on Saturday and then move northward through the Mississippi Valley through Sunday night. EFE-EPA