A disorganized area of storms in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to develop into a tropical or subtropical storm Thursday as it heads toward the US Gulf Coast, the National Hurricane Center said.
Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 has a 90% chance of developing into a tropical or subtropical storm over the next two days, the NHC said. The system is expected to continue to intensify, and tropical storm watches and warnings and storm surge watches have been issued for parts of the Gulf Coast, from Louisiana into Florida.
Winds are currently sustained at 35 mph, and the weather system is forecast to slowly strengthen before its center reaches the Gulf Coast on Friday. The storms will also bring heavy rain and possible flooding tomorrow and through the weekend from the Gulf Coast into the Southeast.
The low-pressure system is currently bringing heavy rain with the risk of flash flooding and mudslides to portions of southern Mexico and Central America. As the system develops, Mexico’s eastern coast may see sustained winds over 40 mph.
The system is expected to begin moving northeast toward the US Gulf Coast, with a potential landfall along the north-central Gulf region Saturday. Regardless of tropical formation, the system could bring heavy rainfall and high winds to Gulf Coast states.
It is too early to tell exactly which areas will feel the impacts. Still, most of the forecast models agree the storm will move into the Florida panhandle, as indicated by the latest forecast track from the NHC.
The Tallahassee National Weather Service is already warning of rain and thunderstorms beginning Friday as well as high winds and sea levels.
CNN’s Eric Levenson contributed to this report.