As Tropical Storm Cindy approaches the northwest Gulf of Mexico coast, the risk of flooding, severe thunderstorms and rip currents will increase over the Deep South.
After little movement on Tuesday, Cindy has begun tracking to the northwest.
This animation shows Tropical Storm Cindy spinning over the Gulf of Mexico during early Wednesday morning, June 21, 2017. (NOAA/Satellite)
Strong winds aloft are shearing the storm. The winds are causing the swath of heaviest rainfall to focus on the northeastern side of the storm.
Storm to make landfall in US
A gradual turn to the north is expected Wednesday night,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
“Landfall near the border of Texas and Louisiana is likely early Thursday.”
Late this week and this weekend, the storm is likely to turn to the Northeast and then the East over the the interior southern United States.
People should not just focus on the path or window of movement with the storm as heavy rainfall will extend well out from the center, especially to the east and north of the track.
Southern US at risk for major flooding
Regardless of the official classification and exact path, the greatest impacts from the storm will be torrential rainfall and the risk of major flooding in the Deep South and other parts of the eastern United States.
Locally heavy rain has been falling on the South well in advance of Cindy.
On Tuesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency in preparation for the severe weather and flash flooding.
Initially, areas along the Interstate-10 corridor along a 600-mile-long swath from the Louisiana coast to part of the Florida west coast will experience the heaviest rainfall and greatest risk of flooding.
As of early Wednesday morning, over 3 inches of rain has fallen from southeast Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle with flooding already occurring in some areas.
“Rainfall of 6-12 inches is likely over part of the central Gulf Coast states with locally higher amounts of 15-20 inches possible, due to the slow-moving nature of the storm,” Kottlowski said.
Cities that could experience flooding problems from the storm include Tallahassee, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; Biloxi, Mississippi; and New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
As the storm approaches land, heavy rain with isolated flooding is likely to wrap westward across part of northeastern Texas, including part of the Houston area. Should the storm jog farther west than anticipated, then flooding rainfall could extend farther down along the Texas coast.
Heavy rain and the risk of flooding directly associated with the storm are also likely to extend northward to I-40 late this week.
“After the storm moves inland, it may be picked up by a non-tropical system and pulled across parts of the lower Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio valleys and onward across the southern Appalachians this weekend,” Kottlowski stated.
“Some areas over the interior Southeast states may experience life-threatening flooding as a result.”
Tornadoes may be spawned by storm
Locally gusty winds with and without thunder could down tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages near the Gulf coast.
“People along the upper Gulf coast will also need to be vigilant for the risk of a few tornadoes and waterspouts through Thursday,” according to AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist Richard Schraeger.
Bathers, boaters at risk from dangerous storm
In addition to the risk of flooding and severe thunderstorms, a persistent flow of air off the Gulf of Mexico will create hazardous surf and seas.
There will be an elevated risk of strong and frequent rip currents along much of the Gulf coast due to the large nature of the storm. The worst conditions are likely from northern Florida to Louisiana.
Seas over much of the Gulf of Mexico may remain too rough for small craft through at least Thursday.
This system follows Bret, which formed just north of South America on Monday. Bret is currently moving westward along the southern edge of the Caribbean Sea but is not expected to be a threat to the U.S.
Beyond the two current tropical features, tropical development is unlikely over the Atlantic basin through at least this weekend.