NEW ORLEANS — Tropical Storm Edouard formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, and forecasters expected it to bring high winds and several inches of rain to the coasts of western Louisiana and eastern Texas.
Forecasters made Edouard, packing 50-mph sustained winds, the fifth tropical storm of the 2008 hurricane season. They expected the storm to strengthen and said it could reach near-hurricane strength by the time it made landfall in Texas on Tuesday morning.
A tropical storm warning was in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Intracoastal City, La. The warning area did not include New Orleans. A tropical storm watch extended west to Port O'Connor, Texas.
The gulf's warm waters offer very favorable conditions for Edouard to strengthen in coming days, said Rebecca Waddington, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
She urged residents in the path of the storm to continue watching it and warned that tropical storms can still be very powerful.
At 8 p.m. Sunday, Edouard's center was located about 90 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 415 miles east-southeast of Galveston, Texas, moving west about 4 mph.
While southwestern Texas still recovers from the damage of last month's Hurricane Dolly, the other end of the state's coast braced for several inches of rain and a potential storm surge.
Krista Piferrer, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said Sunday that state emergency management officials were getting updates from the National Weather Service. She said activation of resources including search and rescue and "maybe military forces" is being examined.
Many of the Gulf's offshore oil and natural gas drilling platforms sit in the storm's path.
Shell Oil Co. had not made any operational changes Sunday afternoon, but company officials were watching the storm closely, spokesman Shawn Wiggins said.
ExxonMobil Corp. had not evacuated any workers or cut production by Sunday evening, but the company was preparing its platforms for heavy wind and rain and considering whether to evacuate some workers, spokeswoman Margaret Ross said.
Forecasters also were monitoring two areas of rough weather in the Atlantic that pose no immediate threat to the United States and may not form into anything substantial. A poorly organized area was about 700 miles east of the Northern Leeward Islands and was moving 15-20 mph to the north-northwest Sunday night. Forecasters believe that system only has a moderate chance of development in the next 48 hours.
Another area of disturbed weather was about 900 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands Sunday evening, but forecasters said that area has a low potential for becoming a cyclone over the next two days.