Tropical Storm Warning Issued for Central Gulf Coast Ahead of Developing Storm
Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for parts of the central Gulf coast ahead of Potential Tropical Cyclone Three, which is expected to be the first cyclone to impact the United States this year.
A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the Gulf Coast from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida border. While the center of the Potential Tropical Cyclone is forecast to remain west towards Louisiana, the majority of the rain is being sheared east, away from the center of circulation. Heavy rainfall is expected along the Gulf coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle starting Friday afternoon and lasting into at least Saturday night. Many of these areas have received about double their average rain this spring, making the region susceptible to fresh water flooding. An additional 5 to 10 inches of rain is forecast, with locally higher amounts, producing numerous flash floods.
Weather models are in agreement that the center of circulation will move inland over Louisiana late Friday or early Saturday before it tracks across the Gulf states into Georgia and the Piedmont of the Carolinas. Widespread rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches are possible, particularly over the higher terrain of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Areas of flash flooding may result, especially on Sunday when the majority of the rainfall is expected to move through the Palmetto State.
The remnant circulation is likely to move off the U.S. east coast into the open Atlantic waters later Monday into Tuesday, but an approaching cold front may bring another round of scattered to widespread showers and thunderstorms to the region toward the middle of next week.
A Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance aircraft investigated the tropical disturbance Thursday afternoon and evening to determine the approximate location of the center of circulation. Initial data from the first Hurricane Hunter mission found a barometric pressure of 1008 mb and maximum sustained wind speeds near 30 mph. The Potential Tropical Cyclone as of the Thursday 5:00PM EDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center was moving north at 9 mph.
Potential Tropical Cyclone Three is expected to continue strengthening and projected to become a Tropical Storm by Friday before impacting the Gulf coast. The name "Claudette" will be given to the storm once it reaches Tropical Storm strength.