As Tropical Storm Beta lumbers toward Texas’ coastline, heavy rains and potentially strong wind gusts will be the main threat for the Baton Rouge metro in what is sure to be a wet week.
The slow-moving Beta is expected to make landfall late Tuesday in coastal Texas before turning northeast and moving through central Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Beta is expected to weaken as it moves inland and passes northwest of Baton Rouge as a tropical depression. The largest concern for the capital region will likely be the accumulation of water that could fill streams raise river levels.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service predict the metro area could see 4 to 6 inches of rain, with higher amounts in some areas. With similar amounts expected throughout southern Louisiana, the agency issued a flash flood watch for the Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette metro areas through Wednesday. Coastal areas have a tropical storm warning.
The heaviest downpours will likely come Tuesday and last into Tuesday night as detached bands from the storm move through parts of southern Louisiana.
“We don’t think it’s going to be any flooding rains immediately but it’s going to be more of a cumulative thing over several days,” said meteorologist Robert Ricks with the National Weather Service in Slidell. “Three or four days of rainfall could potentially pose a problem.”
River stream and river levels are currently low, so they're able to take in more, Ricks added.
Strong eastern winds are also expected to push tides along lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain up to 3 feet higher than normal. As the wind reduces, those tides will likely lower, Ricks said.
Ascension and Livingston parishes closed waterway traffic Monday in anticipation of gusty winds and high tides.
Assumption and St. James parishes were also under a wind advisory Monday and could potentially see wind gusts up to 40 mph, which can blow away unsecured items and make driving difficult.
Weather officials on Monday also extended flood watches north of Interstate 12, including the Felicianas, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes.
The Baton Rouge metro has been largely spared from serious weather amid one of the most active hurricane seasons in recorded history.
With the capital region experiencing few impacts from Hurricane Laura — and dodging bad weather from Hurricanes Sally and Marco — officials in some parishes say it’s allowed them to be better prepared.
In Iberville Parish, emergency officials still had 50,000 sandbags available, and most fire stations still had some on hand from previous storms.
Mark Migliacio, director of operations for Iberville Parish said he’s preparing for a rain-soaked week that could see up to six inches of rainfall.
“We may not get much, but we’re ready,” he said.