Tropical Storm Warning Extended To Parts Of Florida Panhandle As System Approaches Louisiana
The system could strengthen into Tropical Storm Claudette ahead of a forecast landfall late Friday or early Saturday.
Tropical storm warnings have extended into the western Florida Panhandle as Potential Tropical Cyclone Three moves north in the Gulf of Mexico.
The system strengthened Friday afternoon. As of 5 p.m. it was located around 125 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana, and moving to the north at 16 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds are now 45 mph with higher gusts.
Potential Tropical Cyclone 3 is forecast to become a tropical storm later Friday and make landfall along the Louisiana coast early Saturday morning.
The tropical storm warning extends from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the Okaloosa/Walton county line — including Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola.
The strongest winds and heaviest rain will extend well east of the center. Tropical storm force winds are likely along the coastal areas of Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties, especially in gusts.
Those gusts may reach 50 mph in a few places, resulting in the possibility of sporadic, brief power outages late Friday night into Saturday.
The storm could produce 5-10 inches of rain from the western Panhandle to southeastern Louisiana, and 2-4 inches are likely from Florida's Big Bend northward into parts of South Carolina through the weekend.
It could also bring storm surge and coastal flooding to parts of the Gulf Coast.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service say the system is not expected to have a direct impact on the greater Tampa Bay region.
Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network was used in this report.