New Orleans experienced its first wave of heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Harvey on Monday, with some areas getting more than three inches of rain in little more than an hour.
Areas in Lakeview saw the worst of the sudden downpour Monday afternoon, with up to 3.5 inches of rain falling between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., according to the online forecasting service Weather Underground. Gentilly saw 2 inches.
Elmwood and River Ridge in Jefferson Parish got between 2 inches and 2.5 inches of rain in less than two hours.
By 3 p.m. Monday, more than 50 locations had experienced street flooding in parts of Mid-City, Lakeview, Gentilly and New Orleans East, according to Streetwise, an online tool residents can use to track flooding and traffic incidents in real time in their areas. The updates are based on calls for service made to 911.
Local education officials said that all New Orleans public schools would be closed Tuesday. Catholic school campuses in Orleans will also close, the Archdiocese of New Orleans said.
The University of New Orleans cancelled classes on Monday afternoon because of "heavy" street flooding around the school's lakefront campus. The college will also close Tuesday.
UNO spokesman Adam Norris "strongly" encouraged students who were already on campus to remain at the school until street flooding receded, and for those who were off campus to stay away until conditions improved.
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"PLEASE heed this advice; streets are flooded and it is not safe to be maneuvering on campus," he said in a statement.
Southern University at New Orleans also canceled night classes on Monday. It was not immediately clear if SUNO would close Tuesday as well.
Delgado Community College canceled evening classes at all locations Monday, and will close all locations Tuesday.
More rainfall was expected in the following days, with the slow-moving storm forecast to head slightly southeast Monday and northeast Tuesday.
Officials said over the weekend that rainfall of 5-to-10 inches was expected in southeast Louisiana, where a flash flood watch is in effect through Thursday.
New Orleans was bracing for a total of 4-to-10 inches through Sunday. But judging by Monday's downpour, it seemed that some areas would experience much higher totals before Harvey was done making its way through the city.
The heaviest rains are due Monday night and Tuesday, with rain lessening on Wednesday and during the latter half of the week, the National Weather Service said.
“We can stand it,” said Gavin Phillips, a forecaster with the NWS’s New Orleans/Baton Rouge office. “There could be some flooding with it, but for the most part it doesn’t look like there’s anything we can’t deal with.”
There’s still a chance some rain bands could stagnate over New Orleans, which would potentially bring double the forecasted rainfall. Those bands are highly unpredictable, forecasters have said.
However, even as Harvey drifts offshore, the chance it could gain strength in the Gulf of Mexico’s warm waters and rebound as a hurricane remained low Monday, Phillips added. That’s because too much of the storm remains on land, its core is weak and it won’t stay in the Gulf for too long.
Instead, it will travel upward through northwest Louisiana into Mississippi, Arkansas, and later Missouri, where it will weaken further and eventually dissipate.