NASA Photo of Hurricane Barry / Public Domain

Hurricane Season Begins in Earnest as Barry Hits the Gulf Coast

Over the weekend, the Southern United States braced for impact as tropical storm Barry made landfall. Though inevitable, the United States’ annual storm season never fails to leave a path of destruction in its wake that — thanks to the area’s booming oil and gas industry — could potentially have consequences that reach around the world.

As tropical storm Barry swept across several states and caused an estimated $8 billion in damage, more than 3,000 National Guard troops, as well as several dozen rescue crews, descended on Louisiana and Mississippi in the hopes of mitigating the damage done by Barry. 

Though Barry’s wind speeds didn’t reach the catastrophic 100-mile-an-hour wind speeds of Katrina, the slow-moving storm dumped more than 10 inches of rain on the southern US before all was said and done. Accuweather founder Dr. Joel Myers explained, “With Barry, the bulk of the damage will be caused by excessive rains over a large area coming on top of flooding already in many places, of high water in the streams, creeks and rivers and also the fact that the ground is very saturated and the rain will run off.”

The region’s oil and gas industry also felt the crunch of Tropical Storm Barry. As of Sunday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reported that about 73 percent of oil production has been stopped. Natural gas production was curtailed by 62 percent. In addition, about 42 percent of manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were abandoned in preparation for the storm.

Tropical Storm Barry caused no shortage of problems as it continued north across the southern United States on Monday. In some parts of the country, rain continues to fall at a rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour. “Our greatest concern is for torrential rain that would result in life-threatening flooding,” AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski told USA Today.

By and large, state governments throughout the Gulf of Mexico are breathing a sigh of relief that Barry didn’t cause more destruction. Of course, we’re only at the beginning of the season, so no one is resting easy just yet.

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