Tracking the Tropics: Potential tropical cyclone to dump heavy rain on parts of Gulf Coast

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Potential Tropical Cyclone Three continued its trek toward the U.S. Friday morning as a tropical storm warning remains in effect for parts of the Gulf Coast that are bracing for heavy rain from the system.

As of 5 a.m. ET, the potential tropical cyclone is about 310 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana and about 435 miles south-southwest of Mobile, Alabama. It’s moving north at about 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A tropical storm warning was issued for part of the Gulf Coast Thursday night. Early Friday morning, the NHC extended the warning area further east. It’s now in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida.

A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.

In a 5 a.m. advisory, NHC forecasters described the system as “poorly-defined” but noted that it was forecast to strengthen later Friday and become either a subtropical or tropical storm over the Gulf of Mexico. The system is expected to reach the north-central Gulf Coast Friday night or Saturday morning before moving slowly across the southeast.

According to the NHC, the system will likely bring heavy rain and flooding to parts of the southeastern U.S. starting Friday. Parts of the central Gulf Coast will likely see 4 to 8 inches of rain with isolated areas seeing up to 12 inches.

“As the system continues to lift northeast through the weekend, anticipate heavy rain to expand across southeastern Mississippi, southern and central Alabama, and central Georgia resulting in rainfall totals of 3 to 5 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 7 inches,” the 5 a.m. NHC advisory said. “Flash, urban, small stream and isolated minor river flooding impacts are possible.”

Wind impacts will be minimal as the developing system is not expected to be a strong storm. As with any landfalling tropical system, there will be a low threat threat for an isolated tornado to spin up as well as waterspouts moving ashore in the stronger rain bands.

The system could become the third named storm of the season, Claudette, after Tropical Storm Bill and Subtropical Storm Ana.

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