Update, 12:12 p.m.
The Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Parade will roll Saturday, organizers said., pushing for a 2 p.m. start time.
Meanwhile, the worst of Friday’s storms appear to have missed the New Orleans area, but continued moderate rainfall is still expected through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
For now, it appears most of the heaviest rain from the system has fallen in the Ponchatoula area, where forecasters are worried about severe river flooding.
Light to moderate rain from a band stretching from New Orleans to Mobile will continue throughout the day, Shawn O’Neil, a meteorologist with the agency’s Slidell office said Friday morning. Forecasters are continuing to monitor the system, which could intensify, O’Neil said.
“The ingredients are certainly there for this to continue and set up some stronger bands,” he said.
New Orleans and its suburbs received between 1 and a half inches and 2 inches of rainfall overnight and strong wind gusts were reported in some areas early Friday morning. A 56 mph gust was recorded at Louis Armstrong International Airport about 5 a.m. and a 46 mph gust was recorded at the lakefront about 20 minutes later, O’Neil said.
The heaviest rain was recorded in Tangipahoa Parish, where 13 inches to 16 inches of rain fell overnight, O’Neil said. That’s raised concerns about river flooding at potentially record levels, O’Neil said.
The storm system is expected to remain over the New Orleans area through Saturday and could pick up later today or tomorrow, he said.
“We still have a long way to go, just because we may not have meet the rainfall expectations in a particular area doesn’t mean that we won’t before the event is over,” O’Neil said.
-- Staff writer Jeff Adelson
Update, 8:25 a.m.:
Many New Orleans-area residents had no electricity when they woke up Friday, after heavy rains had rolled in from the northern part of the state.
At one point, before dawn, there were more than 15,000 power outages in Jefferson Parish, most of which were in Kenner. There were another 5,800 in New Orleans.
The number of outages in Jefferson had dropped to about 3,300 by 8:15 a.m.
Otherwise, it seemed the main problems the metro New Orleans area had dealt with early Friday were street flooding and traffic accidents on slick roads. In Jefferson, Parish President Mike Yenni said a break in the rains later Friday morning had helped the street flooding to subside and the drainage pumps to catch up.
"So far, so good," said Yenni, who nonetheless cautioned the weather was expected to worsen again later on.
Things had been much worse early Friday in areas north of Lake Pontchartrain, where reportedly some 200 people in the Tangipahoa Parish community of Hammond had to be rescued from rising water. There were also reportedly high-water rescues in the Bogalusa and Mount Herman areas of Washington Parish.
Southeastern Louisiana is under a flash flood watch through at least 6 p.m. Saturday, forecasters have said.
--Staff writer Ramon Antonio Vargas
New Orleans area residents braced themselves Thursday for the arrival of a heavy rain system that left three people dead and forced more than 1,000 to evacuate their homes while making its way down from northwestern Louisiana.
Schools, universities and community colleges on both sides of Lake Pontchartrain canceled classes and extracurricular activities Friday after forecasters placed the area under a flash flood watch through Saturday evening.
Closures included all Jefferson, St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes public schools as well as all Catholic schools in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. John and St. Tammany parishes and many public schools in Orleans Parish.
Forecasters predicted that between 7 and 11 inches of rain would fall across southeastern Louisiana, and some places could see as much as 14 inches.
Additionally, the state shut down its government offices in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and St. Tammany parishes for Friday.
Other government buildings will be closed as well, including Gretna’s City Hall, the Port of New Orleans’ administrative offices, New Orleans’ civil and criminal courthouses and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office administrative offices.
Though their students already had Friday off, St. Tammany Parish public school teachers and staff members were supposed to report to work for a professional development day. However, the school system canceled the development day and ordered the employees to stay home, while the parish School Board canceled its monthly meeting Thursday.
By Thursday morning, Mandeville police already had closed Lakeshore Drive after high tides and strong winds combined to push water onto the roadway and into Old Mandeville.
Some people on social media likened the incoming storm system to the intense weather on Feb. 23 that produced devastating tornadoes in communities such as LaPlace — where hundreds of homes were destroyed — and Convent, where two died and more than 30 were injured.
However, officials were hopeful things would be less intense this time around.
Following a briefing with the National Weather Service, Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts said the main threat to the area through Saturday would most likely be “rain and some flash flooding.”
“Tornadoes aren’t expected, but if they do occur, (they) should be mild and weak,” Roberts said in a statement.
Nonetheless, government officials and residents spent what forecasters believed would be the last few hours of dry weather taking measures to protect life and property.
The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority and levee district officials in East Jefferson, New Orleans and St. Bernard closed several navigation floodgates because tides were above normal. The officials also closed three land-based floodgates west of the Industrial Canal and said they would close more structures as conditions warranted.
Other officials kept spots where residents could pick up or make their own sandbags open until dark in St. Charles, St. John and St. Tammany parish communities.
In Jefferson, officials asked residents to clear debris from the roadways and drains on their block so that nothing would impede water from flowing into the parish’s drainage system.
Officials warned that power outages and the ponding of water on the streets may result from the stormy weather. They said homes and cars in coastal, low-lying and flood-prone areas could become inundated.
Yet local governments also stressed to residents that their emergency management officials had been monitoring the system all week alongside the National Weather Service.
“We are hoping for the best,” Acting Kenner Mayor Michael Sigur said Thursday. “But we need to be prepared.”
Following two days of severe weather, 16 parishes in northern Louisiana had declared a state of emergency by Thursday.
Among those killed during the rains were a 6-year-old girl and 22-year-old man in Ouachita Parish. A 63-year-old man died when a car was swept off a flooded road late Wednesday in Bienville Parish.
In Ouachita, Bossier and Morehouse parishes, the National Guard used trucks capable of traveling through 20 to 30 inches of water to rescue more than 360 people who had been stranded in homes between Wednesday morning and Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, some 3,500 homes in Bossier City were under a mandatory, precautionary evacuation order because a bayou was on the brink of topping its levee Thursday evening.
Closings added Friday morning:
* Destrehan High School is closed on Friday
* St. Martin's Episcopal School is closed today.
* LSU Health Sciences Center is closed today.
* New Orleans Traffic Court is closed today.
* Loyola University New Orleans suspends operations Friday.
* Isidore Newman School closed today.
* The Bonnet Carre Spillway Road (St. Charles Parish) and all recreational areas in the spillway remain closed until further notice due to high river water.
* Metairie Park Country Day School - Closed Today
* Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College will be closed today.
* Abbey Youth Fest, scheduled for Saturday March 12 at Saint Joseph Abbey in St. Benedict, has been cancelled. More info here: http://www.abbeyyouthfest.com/
— The Associated Press and Advocate staff writers Faimon A. Roberts III and Sara Pagones contributed to this report.