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Tropical System Likely To Produce Flash Flooding Along Gulf Coast, Carolinas This Weekend

The National Hurricane Center has upgraded a system in the southwest Gulf of Mexico to Potential Tropical Cyclone Three and issued a tropical storm warning from the Gulf Coast to the Alabama-Florida border.

A tropical storm warning has been issued from the Gulf Coast to the Alabama-Florida border as a system in the Gulf of Mexico has been upgraded to Potential Tropical Cyclone Three.

A heightened risk of flash flooding is expected this weekend ahead of the arrival of the slowly developing storm in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

As of Thursday at 5 p.m., the system was located about 475 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana, and moving to the north at 9 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 30 mph.

If it strengthens into the third named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, it would be called Tropical Storm Claudette.

"This will primarily be a heavy rain-maker from New Orleans to Pensacola Friday night and Saturday, then spreading inland into much of Alabama and Georgia by Sunday," said Jeff Huffman, meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network. "More than 5 inches may fall from Pensacola west, with 2 to 5 inches possible as far east as Panama City where flash flooding is the greatest concern."

Huffman said gusty winds, high surf, and minor coastal flooding are also potential hazards from the storm, but there is less confidence in those occurring at this time in the Florida Panhandle. Forecasters have been monitoring the area of disturbed weather for much of the week.

The National Hurricane Center said earlier Thursday that development is unlikely on Thursday because of its proximity to Mexico. A northward motion into the open waters of the Gulf make development more likely late Thursday night or Friday.

The system was upgraded as of the hurricane center's 5 p.m. update on thursday.

Wind shear is expected to prevent this system from becoming too strong. In fact, it’s likely the storm will be lopsided with nearly all of the weather occurring east of the center of the developing tropical system.

Still, copious rain is expected to fall along the Gulf coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle starting Friday afternoon into at least Saturday. 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.

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Most model simulations bring the system 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.

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 chance of showers and thunderstorms to the region during the middle of next week.

The tropical storm warning was issued Thursday for the Gulf Coast from 
Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida border, 
including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Metropolitan New 
Orleans.

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