By Collin Eaton

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Barry trudged through northwestern Louisiana on Sunday, threatening tornadoes and dropping up to 15 inches of rain in some places to create life-threatening flood conditions along the Mississippi River.

Barry, which made landfall as a category 1 hurricane on Saturday then quickly weakened to a tropical storm, was 50 miles (85 km) south-southeast of Shreveport with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles (65 km) per hour on Sunday morning.

Fears that Barry might devastate the low-lying city of New Orleans like Hurricane Katrina did in 2005 were unfounded, but rain in the forecast could still cause life-threatening flooding, the National Weather Service said.

New Orleans saw light rain on Sunday morning, and churches and several businesses were open, including some on Tchoupitoulas Street along the flooded Mississippi River. Streets in the city's popular garden district were quieter than usual but some joggers and dogwalkers ventured out, according to a Reuters witness.

Up to 15 inches of rain were still expected in some parts of south-central Louisiana on Sunday, the Weather Service said.

The rain was expected to raise the already flooded Mississippi River but not overtop the levees.

The Mississippi River crested on Friday night in New Orleans at just under 17 feet (5.18 meters), the National Weather Service said, much lower than a prediction earlier this week of 20 feet (6.1 meters), near the height of the city's levees.

(Reporting by Collin Eaton; Additional reporting and writing by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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