Tropical storm could form in southern US this week, forecasters say

A broad area of low pressure has a high chance of developing into a classified system in the northern Gulf

Lanza pointed to a tweet from Michael Lowry, a tropical storm expert who works at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, noting that while 50-60 percent of Atlantic tropical cyclones start near Africa as series of thunderstorms, that still leaves a good chunk with other origins.

Simultaneous to initiating advisories on the system and an official storm track, tropical storm and storm surge watches will likely be issued for portions of the Gulf Coast, including portions of Louisiana, and the possibility of a hurricane watch is also in the mix given the late Tuesday computer model runs.

The low-pressure system is now over the Florida panhandle, but is expected to travel into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, where it will meet warm, open waters that will fuel the storm's intensity, according to CNN meteorologist Haley Brink.

The Mississippi River is predicted to crest at 20 feet on Saturday, which, as meteorologist Eric Holthaus pointed out, is the height of New Orleans' levees. The low is forecast to slowly intensify through and by Wednesday night or Thursday morning, we should have a tropical depression on our hands.

The low is now located over the Florida Panhandle and moving into the northeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Oil producers in the USA part of the Gulf of Mexico have begun evacuating employees from their platforms ahead of a possible storm that is for now a tropical depression, Reuters reports, adding the storm could develop by this evening or tomorrow.

"The heaviest rain is expected to fall on parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, western Tennessee, Arkansas and northeastern Texas", Kottlowski said.

It isn't clear yet exactly where the storm will hit, Brink said, but models show it making landfall somewhere between Lake Charles, Louisiana and Mobile sometime Saturday. "This threat includes New Orleans". He added, "Areas to the east of the landfall point are expected to see the heaviest rain this weekend, with 20-plus inches possible in spots".

A tropical depression, tropical storm or minimal hurricane is likely to have little to no impact on operations of offshore oil and gas rigs. Storms will be strong, and potentially reaching severe status through the afternoon and evening. Over the next several days, the primary risk is to the Gulf States.

A tropical storm is an area of thunderstorms that produces a circular wind flow with winds from 39 to 73 miles per hour.

Development of tropical storms in near-shore waters off the US coast are common early during hurricane season, in the middle of the summer.

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