NOAA Satellites shows storm brewing in Gulf of Mexico
A tropical disturbance located over the northern Gulf of Mexico is expected to develop into tropical cyclone by Saturday, according the latest predictions from the National Hurricane Center.
Forecasters say the cyclone has a nearly 100 percent chance of developing in the next 48 hours, and it could become Tropical Storm or Hurricane Barry as it heads towards coastal Louisiana and Texas.
Tropical storms receive a name when wind speeds reach 39 mph, and they are classified as hurricanes when wind speeds reach 74 mph.
Current models show Louisiana taking the brunt of the storm’s impact, and it could make landfall as soon as Saturday.
Tropical storm, hurricane and storm surge watches are in effect for much of the Louisiana coastline.
The National Weather Service will issue more updates on the tropical disturbance throughout the day on Thursday.
Florida falls well outside of current storm path predictions. However, the tropical disturbance is likely to bring more rainy weather to finish out the week.
In Bradenton and Manatee County, scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected on Thursday, with a 50 percent chance of rain and up to a quarter-inch of rainfall predicted. Wind gusts could reach 18 mph. The heat index is expected to top out at 102 degrees.
Friday is predicted to bring milder weather with partly sunny conditions. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are still possible, and rain chances are placed at 40 percent. The heat index could climb as high as 101 degrees.
Wet weather is less likely over the weekend, with a 30 percent chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday — mostly after 2 p.m.
If you’re heading to the beach, be aware that a rip current advisory remains in effect for Manatee County through 8 p.m. Thursday.
During rip current advisories, swimmers are advised to never swim out of sight of lifeguards and avoid swimming near structures such as groins, jetties and piers.
If you are caught in a rip current, yell for help, but remain calm.
“Do not exhaust yourself and stay afloat while waiting for help,” the NWS advises. “If you have to swim out of a rip current, swim parallel to shore and back toward the beach when possible. Do not attempt to swim directly against a rip current as you will tire quickly.”