HOUSTON, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Local governments and residents geared up for an approaching tropical storm Barry which is forecast to make landfall Saturday morning along the central Louisiana coast as a hurricane.
According to U.S. National Hurricane Center, Barry is expected to strengthen to be Category 1 hurricane before reaching the south-central coast of U.S. state of Louisiana, bringing dangerous storm surge and heavy rains across the north-central Gulf Coast.
If Barry maintains the track it's currently on, the storm could make landfall on Marsh Island, Louisiana, in Vermilion Bay, about 160 km west of New Orleans, a Louisiana city on the Mississippi River and near the Gulf of Mexico.
New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the capital city of Louisiana, are among the cities at high risk of flooding. Mississippi River is forecast to crest at 19 feet (about 5.8 meters) in New Orleans on Saturday.
In New Orleans, voluntary evacuations have been issued for areas which are not protected by levees.
Both U.S. states of Louisiana and Mississippi have declared state of emergency in advance of Barry's arrival.
At a press conference on Friday, Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards said the state was ready for the impact from the country's first tropical system this year, and levees in New Orleans should withstand the floodwaters.
"This is going to be a significant weather event, and if you haven't already done so, the time to prepare is NOW," the governor cautioned in a post on Twitter.
Meanwhile, U.S. National Guard has mobilized up to 3,000 troops in Louisiana for the upcoming hurricane.