The flooding hit the area as a tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico is forming into a hurricane nicknamed "Barry".

Massive floods have inundated the streets of downtown New Orleans as heavy thunderstorms hit the region on Wednesday.

Local authorities declared a flash flood emergency and urged residents to stay off the roads and look for higher ground.

As torrential rains flooded New Orleans, citizens of the city took to their phone cameras to film the devastating effects of the floods.

Some videos show that people were forced to use kayaks to move along the streets, which had turned into rivers.

Cars parked outside were almost submerged as a result of the heavy precipitation.

The floods were also accompanied by another terrifying natural phenomenon - a waterspout that was caught on camera by residents of the city.

The flooding in New Orleans comes as the US National Hurricane Centre predicts a cyclone to potentially become a tropical hurricane by Saturday.