Tropical storm expected to develop in the Gulf of Mexico

Fig. 4 Latest spaghetti plots

There are a few key players in the development of this potential tropical feature - now dubbed "Invest 92L" (short for "investigation area") by the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

It's then expected to hit the Gulf Coast as a hurricane on Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said. Highs in the upper 80s to low 90s inland, mid to upper 80s along the beaches.

Forecasters said the weather disturbance is expected to become a tropical depression by Thursday morning, a tropical storm by that night and a hurricane on Friday. Tropical Storm Barry has a near 100 percent chance of forming, AccuWeather forecasters say, and, depending on the track it takes, the storm could flirt with becoming a hurricane before making landfall.

"Right now, our greatest concern is for torrential rain that would result in life-threatening flooding", Kottlowski said. "4 to 6 inches have already fallen and 2 - 3 more is anticipated", the National Weather Service's New Orleans office tweeted.

However, near and just north of where the center of the storm makes landfall, rainfall is likely to increase at an exponential rate. While the update is unchanged from last month's forecast, it does feature more than the average number of named storms per hurricane season, which is twelve.

Some computer guidance models are suggesting this storm could dump as much as 10 to 20 inches of rain on parts of the southern United States.

The National Hurricane Center says the system, which has been producing disorganized rain showers and thunderstorms in the Gulf Coast region, is expected to move southwest from the Florida Panhandle and strengthen as it swirls in the warm waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico during the next few days.

Motiva's Port Arthur, Texas, refinery was one of four refineries in east Texas inundated by more than 5 feet (1.52 m) of rain in a single day during 2017's Hurricane Harvey.

The Flood Protection Authority said it will be closing several flood gates and structures in the New Orleans area starting Wednesday morning.

"The city is protected to a project height of 20 feet".

But a potential hurricane is not the only threat.

Among the companies that have started moving staff from the Gulf are Shell, Chevron, BP, and BHP, while Exxon is keeping an eye on the weather developments for the time being to establish which of its platforms could find themselves in the way of the storm.

Even in lieu of a hurricane, sometimes tropical storms that are near the coast or make landfall can unleash sudden tornadoes.

The latest trends in steering winds suggest more of drift toward the central and western Gulf of Mexico this weekend. In order to support a tropical storm or hurricane, sea surface temperatures need to be about 27ºC.

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