- Tropical storm Barry was beginning to wreak havoc on the US Gulf Coast Friday, as it inched toward New Orleans and the Mississippi River.
- The storm, which could become a hurricane, forced Carnival to reroute one ship away from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama.
- Other ships scheduled to arrive and depart the city have not yet seen their routes altered, but changes could be on the way.
- Read Business Insider’s full storm coverage here.
At least two cruise ships have been rerouted as companies and cities along the US gulf coast brace for Tropical Storm Barry‘s landfall, expected as early as Friday.
Carnival’s Valor ship, which can carry up to 2,900 passengers, was diverted to Mobile, Alabama, earlier in the week from its originally scheduled port of New Orleans ahead of the storm.
According to AL.com, approximately 100 buses were enlisted to transport the passengers to New Orleans Thursday morning from a four-day voyage to the Mexican Riviera Maya.
Another Carnival ship, Freedom, is currently headed to Galveston, and was off the southern tip of Florida on Friday. It’s unclear if the ship will have to alter its route at all in order to avoid the storm.
“Our Fleet Operations Center continues to monitor the path of the storm for other ships in the region and we will make any changes as needed,” a Carnival spokesperson told Business Insider. The company’s Glory ship is scheduled to depart Cozumel for New Orleans at 5 p.m. local time on Friday.
“Carnival sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciates our guests’ cooperation and patience,” the statement continued.
American Cruise Lines, which operates smaller ships along the US coast and major rivers, including the Mississippi, said its “Highlights of the Mississippi Cruise” on Saturday, July 14, will not depart from Natchez, Mississippi instead of New Orleans as originally scheduled.
Disney Cruises, which operates ships from New Orleans’ port, said it had no ships affected.
A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean, which does not have any ships currently in New Orleans or on the way to the city, said it was monitoring the path and progress of the storm: If we make any itinerary changes we will update our guests and travel partners,” the spokesperson said.
The Port of New Orleans shut down its cargo operations on Thursday, Nola.com reported, as it prepares for the oncoming storm. Reopening the Mississippi River floodgates, about 200 of which were closed ahead of the storm, will depend on conditions over the weekend.
As the storm sat south of the Louisiana coast, hundreds of ships steered around the system.
The biggest test of Mississippi River levees since 1927
The storm poses a significant threat to the city of New Orleans, since the Mississippi River, which snakes by the city, has been continuously flooding the surrounding land since January. The water is sitting at a height of 16 feet.
New Orleans has levees in place to keep the river from flooding its banks and swamping nearby neighbourhoods. But those levees are only 20 feet high in some places. As of Wednesday, the river was forecast to crest at a near-record height of 19 or 20 feet by Friday afternoon. If that happens, it’d be the highest level the Mississippi has reached in New Orleans since at least 1950, according to the NWS.
Tropical storm conditions were expected to arrive in coastal areas near the Mississippi delta early Friday, the National Hurricane Center said, and increase as the storm makes landfall. It’s likely the storm could be upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, officials said.
“There is a danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation along the coast of southern and southeastern Louisiana where a Storm Surge Warning is in effect,” the agency said early Friday. “The slow movement of Barry will result in a long duration heavy rainfall and flood threat along the Gulf Coast and inland through the lower Mississippi Valley trough the weekend and into early next week.