Barry strengthened from a tropical storm to a category 1 hurricane Saturday morning with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph as it bears down on the Louisiana coast.
The slow-moving storm in the Gulf of Mexico was expected to make landfall during the day, bringing strong winds and heavy rain that forecasters predict could cause flooding over a wide region going into next week.
Barry “poses a significant flooding threat” due to how slowly it is moving, the National Weather Service said.
Baton Rouge northwest of New Orleans could experience extreme flooding with the possibility that the Comite River will crest above a record set in floods in 2016 that caused between $10 billion to $15 billion in damage and left 13 people dead.
Even before Barry makes landfall, it was making itself felt in some parts of southern Louisiana. Flights in and out of the state were being canceled Saturday morning due to the impending storm.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, the main hub in the city, posted a travel advisory on its website telling customers that most airline carriers had canceled all flights.
Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport said in a tweet that flights were canceled and that travelers should check with their carrier about flights on Sunday.
On Saturday morning, a rescue operation was underway on Isle de Jean Charles, a remote island in Terrebonne Parish where at least a dozen people were stranded due to rising floodwaters, according to NBC affiliate WDSU .
The U.S. Coast Guard had been called to assist with the rescue after trees fell on a highway cutting people off from the island, the outlet reported.
Residents in Mandeville, which is on Lake Pontchartrain, have also reported extreme flooding in the area. One video posted on Twitter showed water has already risen to the top of a fence surrounding a home.
The National Weather Service said Mandeville and surrounding areas can expect to see torrential rainfall and strong wind gusts.
The storm has also left tens of thousands of people in Louisiana without power, WDSU reported. Entergy Louisiana said in a tweet that they have crews in place and will begin to restore power as soon as it is safe to do so.
As Barry moves through Louisiana it is expected to weaken before reaching Arkansas, areas of Memphis, Tennessee, and Greenville, Mississippi on Monday.