(Gray News) – Folks along the Gulf Coast are getting fair warning that trouble is brewing.
The National Hurricane Center said Monday that a low-pressure system in the Southeast has an 80 percent chance of turning into a tropical depression over the next five days.
“Some gradual development is possible thereafter and a tropical depression is likely to form by the end of the week while the low meanders near the northern Gulf Coast,” forecasters said.
“Regardless of development, this system has the potential to produce heavy rainfall along portions of the northern and eastern U.S. Gulf Coast later this week.”
If the system strengthens into a tropical storm, it will be the second of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season and will be named Barry.
The first named storm of the season, Subtropical Storm Andrea, formed and dissipated in May. The season officially runs through November 30.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a near-normal hurricane season.
Normal means 9 to 15 named storms, 4 to 8 of which could become hurricanes, and 2 to 4 of which could be major hurricanes.
To be a named storm, winds must reach at least 39 mph; to be a hurricane, winds need to reach at least 74 mph, and to be a major hurricane (Category 3, 4 or 5 storms) winds would hit 111 mph or higher.
A big factor in the prediction is the El Niño weather pattern and the “expected combination of warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and an enhanced west African monsoon, both of which favor increased hurricane activity," a news release said.