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TAMPA (WFLA) – The National Hurricane Center has enough confidence that the disturbance in the Gulf will form between now and tomorrow. For now they have deemed the system Potential Tropical Cyclone Two. This allows them to issue Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings as well as a forecast cone.
Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for portions of the Louisiana coastline. These may be upgraded to Hurricane Watches and possibly Warnings as the system moves closer. The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center is for the disturbance to strengthen into a category 1 hurricane before landfall. The current cone extends from the eastern portion of Louisiana to the eastern coast of Texas.
An Air Force Reserve unit reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance today at 2 pm. If they find a central area of lower pressure, the system will be classified as a tropical depression. There after, further organization and strengthening is possible for long as it stays over open water. If sustained wind speeds reach 39 mph near the center, the storm will be upgraded to a Tropical Storm and given the name “Barry.”
Models are all in good agreement on the storm slowly drifting west southwest in the Gulf over the next 24 hours before moving northwest towards the Gulf Coast. Until the storm moves far enough west, Tampa will see continue to see widespread showers and storms. The showers and thunderstorms will remain in the forecast through the end of the week as an onshore flow sticks around.
The northern Gulf Coast should continue to closely monitor the development of this system. Heavy rain will be likely from the Florida panhandle to the Texas Coast as the system moves ashore, regardless of development.
The National Hurricane Center is tracking the possibility of seeing storm surge impacts and warns that tropical storm or even hurricane force winds are possible in portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and the upper Texas coast.