Tropical Storm Barry

National Weather Service

ORLANDO, Fla. — The area of disturbed weather in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to strengthen into Hurricane Barry by Friday, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday evening.

The slow-moving storm is expected to dump as much as 18 inches of rain along the central Gulf Coast and lower Mississippi Valley, which could cause a “dangerous” storm surge in the coming days. Storm surge, tropical storm and hurricane watches were put into effect Wednesday evening for much of the Louisiana coast as meteorologists expect the developing tropical system to grow stronger.

“Reports from an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 30 mph with higher gusts,” the hurricane center said in its 5 p.m. update. “Strengthening is forecast during the next 72 hours, and the disturbance is forecast to become a tropical depression Thursday morning, a tropical storm Thursday night, and a hurricane on Friday.”

Winds only need to increase to 39 mph for the system to become Tropical Storm Barry.

While it appears the hurricane-to-be will impact Louisiana or Texas, based on forecast models, the hurricane center is cautioning residents along the Gulf Coast to keep an eye on the strengthening storm.

“Interests elsewhere along the U.S. Gulf Coast from the Upper Texas Coast to the Florida Panhandle should monitor the progress of this system,” hurricane center forecasters said. “Additional Tropical Storm or Hurricane watches could be issued later today or tonight west of Morgan City.”

Barry would be the second named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, following Subtropical Storm Andrea.