NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A storm swamped streets in New Orleans and prompted a tornado warning near the city Wednesday as concerns grew that even worse weather is on the way to Louisiana and other states along the Gulf of Mexico.
Garbage containers tilted on their sides and pieces of wood floated down rain-swollen streets in New Orleans. Water was up to the doors of many cars during the morning rush hour.
The storms were associated with a broad area of disturbed weather in the Gulf that’s expected to strengthen by this weekend when it threatens the region with torrential rain.
Once it becomes more intense, the weather system could push the already swollen Mississippi River precariously close to the tops of levees that protect New Orleans, forecasters said.
WATCH: New Orleans Officials hold a press conference about the massive flooding and expected rain
WATCH: Massive flooding in New Orleans
The low pressure area Wednesday was over water, south of the Florida Panhandle. It was expected to strengthen into a storm as it moved west through the Gulf’s warm waters.
Lines of thunderstorms associated with the system on Wednesday extended far out in into the Gulf and battered New Orleans, were as much as 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rain hit the New Orleans metropolitan area over a three-hour period Wednesday morning, forecasters said.
It’s expected to get much worse in the days ahead.
Parts of Louisiana could see up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain by Monday, with heavier amounts possible in some spots, forecasters said.
Mississippi and Texas were also at risk of torrential rains.
The National Weather Service said New Orleans is protected to a river level of 20 feet (6.1 meters), but it was forecast to rise above flood stage to 19 feet (5.8 meters) by Friday.