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It’s official: Tropical depression forms in the Gulf; could become Tropical Storm Olga today

Louisiana

There’s a new tropical depression in the Gulf this morning. And it could be gone by tonight.

The National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories on Tropical Depression 17 on Friday morning and said it could strengthen briefly into Tropical Storm Olga by this afternoon.

But the clock is ticking on this storm. Forecasters expect it to transition to a gale-force post-tropical storm by tonight.

The storm is expected to either merge with a cold front or lose all its tropical characteristics by tonight, when it should be over the northwestern Gulf.

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to take a closer look at the system later today, forecasters said.

As of 10 a.m. CDT Friday, Tropical Depression 17 was located 320 miles south-southwest of Lake Charles, La., and was moving north at 16 mph.

The depression had top sustained winds of 35 mph. The hurricane center said some strengthening will be possible today, and the depression could become a tropical storm this afternoon. If it does it will be named Olga. Tropical storm force winds begin at 39 mph.

The storm is forecast to turn more to the north-northeast and pick up speed starting this afternoon and stay on that track through Sunday.

On that path, the center of the storm should move over the northern Gulf coast tonight or Saturday morning. The forecast track shows the center coming ashore in Louisiana.

The hurricane center said that the system and associated front will bring gale-force winds (behind the front) to the north-central Gulf Coast both today and Saturday.

The system will help enhance rainfall for parts of the South over the weekend, and flash flood watches are in effect for most of Mississippi and parts of Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee.

The hurricane center said the storm and rainfall ahead of the system along and north of the frontal boundary across the Central Gulf coast could bring 2 to 4 inches of rain with isolated areas getting up to 8 inches through Saturday morning.

A few tornadoes will also be possible today in southern Louisiana, Mississippi and southwest Alabama, the hurricane center said.

The Storm Prediction Center has added a marginal risk of severe weather for part of southwest Alabama today, and a tornado watch has been issued for part of the area:

The National Weather Service in Mobile said limited impacts are expected along the northern Gulf Coast, but there is a high rip current risk in place through Saturday night.

The hurricane center also added a second area to watch to the board on Friday morning.

This one was far to the northeast near the Azores islands.

Forecasters said rain and storms have fired up near the center of a non-tropical area of low pressure that was several hundred miles southwest of the islands.

The hurricane center said some additional development will be possible over the next few days as it moves to the east-northeast.

It has a 20 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression over the next five days.

 

This article was originally published on AL