The Mississippi River approaches a levee at left in New Orleans, La., Thursday, July 11, 2019, ahead of Tropical Storm Barry. Never in the modern history of New Orleans has water from the Mississippi River overtopped the city's levees. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Tropical Storm Barry is strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico as it heads toward the Louisiana coast. It’s forecasted to make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane early tomorrow morning.
A hurricane warning is in effect for New Orleans and other parts of the Louisiana coast.
Forecasters say the Mississippi River could rise to levels of 19 feet — the highest since 1950. It could the biggest test ever for the river levees, which may be as low as 18 feet in some areas.
Levee systems use earthen embankments, steel or concrete flood-walls, and pumps to hold back floodwaters. It’s unclear how much the systems along the Mississippi River can withstand.
Find the latest updates on Tropical Storm Barry here.

Tropical Storm Barry is getting stronger as it heads for New Orleans, and is likely to become a Category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall in Louisiana tomorrow morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A hurricane warning is in effect for a swath of the Louisiana coast, and forecasts suggest the Mississippi River could crest as high as 19 or 20 feet— the highest level the river has reached in New Orleans since 1950. (The river has already swelled to 16 feet.)

That could create the biggest test ever of the city’s river levees, which were built in 1927.

The Mississippi River in New Orleans right now (standing on the levee)

— Jonathan Walczak (@jonwalczak) July 10, 2019

Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards has declared a state of emergency and warned that there could be “a considerable amount of overtopping” of levees in Plaquemines Parish, a suburban district southeast of New Orleans.

Here’s everything you need to know about what levees are, how they work, and what the system looks like in New Orleans.

Levee systems rely on embankments, flood-walls, and pumps

Most levees are trapezoid-shaped, elevated embankments that separate bodies of water from inhabited flood plains. They’re meant to protect those areas in the event a lake or river level rises.

Roads and railways sometimes cross a levee, so flood-walls — which are usually made of concrete or steel — and other structures are used to close those gaps. Flood-walls are also often built to supplement levee systems in high-density urban areas where there isn’t enough space for a large levee.

The US Army Corps of Engineers classifies levees by the environment they protect (urban or rural) and the body of water they protect it from (river, coastal, or estuary).

Different types of river levees can run parallel the main river channel, encircle a protected area, or provide backup or protection to an existing levee.

New Orleans has two levee systems along the Mississippi River

Two levee systems hold back the Mississippi in New Orleans: the East Bank System and the West Bank System. Together, these systems boast 192 miles of levees and 99 miles of flood-walls.

But it’s unclear just how much water the river levees can withstand. The official levee database run …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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Tropical Storm Barry could breach New Orleans’ river levees. Here’s how the levee system works and how much it can withstand.

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