The forecast track for Tropical Storm Barry has shifted significantly to the east, but it’s still too early for Southwest Louisiana “to let its guard down.”

“I’m not saying we’re out of the woods, but it’s definitely looking a lot better,” said Roger Erickson, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Lake Charles office.

Erickson said though the landfall projection has shifted to south central Louisiana, the margin of error “cone” surrounding the storm’s projected path continues to cover most of Southwest Louisiana.

“It’s too early to let your guard down anywhere in Louisiana,” he said.

A hurricane watch continues for Cameron, Vermilion, Iberia and St. Mary parishes, he said.

“We’re still forecasting it to be a Category 1 hurricane when it makes landfall and that is projected to happen Saturday morning somewhere over in the St. Mary Parish area,” Erickson said. “The cone of error still covers Cameron; it might miss Lake Charles, but a good chunk of Southwest Louisiana could be effected.”

Erickson said wind speeds of 58-73 miles per hour are forecast today from Cameron Parish east to Morgan City and through portions of Jennings, Crowley, Lafayette, St. Martinville, New Iberia and Opelousas.

“In those areas expect wind damage, trees blown down, damages to houses, things like that,” he said.

Wind speeds of 39-57 miles per hour are forecast in the Lake Charles area and up into Alexandria, Erickson said.

“We’re looking at about 3 to 4 inches of rain in Lake Charles, but we always say to double that when thinking about worst-case scenarios. We could potentially get up to 10 inches,” he said. “The timing for the heaviest rain is Friday night through Sunday morning.”

Andy Patrick, NWS meteorologist-in-charge for the Lake Charles office, said there is usually a lull in storm development during the month of July.

“When this system started, it was actually an upper-level system over the southeast U.S. that drifted to the Gulf,” Patrick said. “This is unusual for July and the whole scenerio of how this developed is very unusual, as well.”

All Cameron, Calcasieu and Jeff Davis schools and facilities are closed today as is McNeese State University. The administration of the ACT test planned for Saturday at McNeese will be rescheduled. Today’s Reality Check class, hosted by the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, has also been canceled.

The Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office administration and the LSU AgCenter are also closed.

Calcasieu Parish Police Jury offices will remain open for regular hours through the rest of the week and garbage and trash pickup will run as normally scheduled for Waste Management customers.

Sandbag locations:

Sandbag locations are open in Jeff Davis Parish at the following locations:

Fire District 1, 14132 Hwy. 395, Roanoke

Fire District 2, 5396 Pine Island Highway (La. 102), Jennings

Fire District 3, 20487 La. 101, Iowa

Fire District 3, 6475 U.S. 90, Welsh

Fire District 3, 17155 U.S. 90, Welsh

Fire District 3, 11055 La. 101 south, Iowa

Fire District 5, 23405 La. 383, Iowa

Fire District 7, 135 North Lane, Ragley

Jeff Davis Parish Fenton Yard, 18677 Estes Road, Iowa

Fenton Elementary School, 509 First Street, Fenton

Elton Town Hall, 1302 Main St., Elton

* In Lake Arthur, sand is available at the Lake Arthur Community Center, 701 8th Street, but sand bags are available at the police station, 102 Arthur Ave.

* In Jennings, sand is located at the City Street Department Barn, 106 East Jefferson. Limit 3 bags per door.

* In Welsh, sand only is available at the Light and Water Plant, 700 E. South Street. Bags are not available at this time.

* Sand and sandbags will be available free at all locations, but residents need to bring their own shovels and be prepared to fill their own bags.

* All parish sites will be open 24/7 until the inclement weather has passed or it is determined there is no longer a need.

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