Tropical Weather Highlights (5 a.m. ET Thursday)

  • Potential Tropical Cyclone Two is not a depression yet, but is expected to be one soon, according to the National Hurricane Center's 5 a.m. ET advisory.
  • A tropical cyclone is expected to form by Thursday over the north-central Gulf of Mexico. The chance of a tropical depression or tropical storm forming in the next 48 hours is nearly guaranteed.
  • Heavy rains and flooding are already being reported over parts of southeastern Louisiana, where a state of emergency has been declared.
  • This disturbance is forecast to become a tropical depression by Thursday morning. It could strengthen to a tropical storm by early Friday morning and a hurricane by Saturday.
  • A hurricane watch is in effect for the mouth of the Mississippi River to Cameron, Louisiana. This means hurricane conditions -- winds in excess of 74 mph -- are possible within the next 48 hours.
  • A storm surge watch has been issued from the mouth of the Pearl River to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. There is a chance of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coast in the next 48 hours.
  • A tropical storm watch has been issued from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Mouth of the Pearl River. That means tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 48 hours.
  • Louisiana has declared a state of emergency in advance of anticipated storm surge, potential hurricane-force winds and the possibility of 15 inches of rain.
  • For Tampa Bay: Expect minimal impacts, with breezy conditions, slightly higher tides along the coast and periods of heavy rain. We'll be in the clear late Friday.

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RELATED: Tracking Potential Tropical Cyclone Two: Stats, spaghetti models and more

MORE: Tropical development in the Gulf: Your questions answered

Full Tropical Weather Forecast:

A tropical cyclone is expected to form Thursday over the northern Gulf of Mexico: Hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge watches are already being issued ahead of anticipated heavy rainfall.

As of 5 a.m. ET Thursday, the weather system was located about 130 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Maximum sustained winds are being clocked at 30 mph. 

As of Thursday morning, the system is moving west-southwest at 9 mph. It's expected to turn toward the west late Thursday and toward the west-northwest on Friday. Meteorologists expect the system to approach the central U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend.

The system is expected to strengthen in the next 72 hours. The disturbance is expected to become a tropical depression Thursday morning, a tropical storm Thursday night and a hurricane on Friday.

A hurricane watch has been issued from the mouth of the Mississippi River westward to Cameron, Louisiana. This means hurricane conditions are possible during the next 48 hours.

A storm surge watch has been issued from the mouth of the Pearl River to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. That means there's a chance of rising water moving inland from the coast -- posing life-threatening conditions in the next 48 hours.

Forecasters are warning of potential 3-5 foot storm surge across this region.

The weather system is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 6-12 inches near and inland of the central Gulf Coast through early next week. The National Hurricane Center says isolated maximum rainfall amounts could reach 18 inches in some areas.

Rainfall has already exceeded 6-9 inches in parts of New Orleans, causing flooding.

A tropical storm watch has been issued from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the mouth of the Pearl River. That means tropical storms conditions are possible in the next two days.

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satellite

Anyone living along the U.S. Gulf Coast from the upper Texas coast to the Florida Panhandle should continue to monitor this system's progress.

The chance of this system growing more organized and strengthening into a tropical depression or tropical storm in the next 48 hours is almost guaranteed.

A tropical system will not acquire a name until it strengthens to a tropical storm. A storm achieves tropical storm status once the storm has maximum sustained winds of 39 mph, but they do not exceed 73 mph. If -- or when -- this system becomes a tropical storm, it will be named Barry.

Click or tap here for interactive radar from 10Weather.

As the system develops, it will track west away from the Florida Peninsula. However, some indirect impacts will still be possible.

As the low-pressure system strengthens Wednesday, the winds will begin to increase, especially along the coast. Wind speeds are likely to range between 10-15 mph with occasional gusts as high as 30-35 mph. 

This persistent wind out of the south and southwest, potentially into Friday, might result in higher than normal tides; and some minor coastal flooding could be possible. 

In addition to breezy conditions and the threat for minor coastal flooding, the developing system will draw up abundant tropical moisture. Any showers and storms that develop will have the potential to produce locally heavy rain and possibly result in flooding. Generally speaking, flooding as a result of heavy rain is not a major concern for Tampa Bay, but some localized flooding may be seen.

Forecast models are in fairly good agreement of the track of the storm through Thursday morning, but after that, there is a fair amount of divergence in thinking. The spread of the greatest impact stretches from Alabama to Texas with Louisiana and Mississippi right in the middle.

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satellite

The European Model, historically one of the more reliable forecast models, strengthens the storm as it approaches the Louisiana Coast Friday into Saturday.

Regardless of development, this system has the potential to produce heavy rainfall along portions of the northern and eastern U.S. Gulf Coast later this week and into the weekend. Some forecasts suggest that rainfall totals could be greater than 1 foot along the central Gulf coast. 

While the focus with a tropical system is often with the wind speeds, flooding rains are often the deadliest hazard. The threat for inland flooding needs to be monitored closely all along the central and eastern Gulf coast. 

In any event, we're well into the swing of hurricane season. It's not too late to prepare a hurricane kit and have a plan in place should a storm threaten the area.

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