How this weird storm may be 2019's next hurricane

Fig. 3 GFS ensembles track & intensity

The weather system's maximum sustained winds were 30mph at 7pm BST (1pm CDT) - if they increase enough, the system will be called Tropical Storm Barry.

The National Hurricane Center issues advisories on "potential tropical cyclones" whenever a storm is expected to produce tropical depression or tropical storm conditions over land within 48 hours. Ahead of that, a tropical storm watch and a storm surge watch have been issued for the coast.

The area of low pressure that we've been tracking for several days is beginning to organize, and will likely be designated a tropical depression before the end of the day Wednesday.

The system's motion - skimming right along the coast - also raises concerns for storm surge for parts of the Gulf Coast, particularly in vulnerable locations like New Orleans.

The National Hurricane Center said on Tuesday that it plans on sending a US Air Force reconnaissance aircraft on Wednesday as a storm system spins in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Once it becomes better organized, the weather system could push the already swollen Mississippi River precariously close to the tops of levees that protect New Orleans, forecasters said. On the forecast track, the system is expected to approach the central U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend.Maximum sustained winds are near 30 miles per hour (45 km/h) with higher gusts.

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Lines of thunderstorms associated with the system on Wednesday extended far out in into the Gulf and battered New Orleans, were as much as 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rain hit the New Orleans metropolitan area over a three-hour period Wednesday morning, forecasters said. The American Model is now more reflective of the European and also brings the storm into Louisiana, but a little more to the west.

Officials in New Orleans are monitoring for any potential storm surge impacts on the Mississippi River.

While the primary threat from this system will be rainfall, with up to double the amounts possible in isolated areas given the Weather Prediction Center's (WPC) forecast, wind and surge could ultimately become larger factors to deal with. Most offshore oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico are in the north-central and western portion of the basin. Storms will be strong, and potentially reaching severe status through the afternoon and evening.

Regardless of the strength of the storm prior to landfall, rip currents, seas and surf will build throughout the Gulf of Mexico for the remainder of this week and into the weekend.

It would be the first tropical system in the United States this hurricane season.

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