The tropical system in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico hasn’t reached tropical storm strength just yet, though it has become organized enough to earn a new classification: Potential Tropical Cyclone 3.
We shouldn’t have to wait long for the system to become Tropical Storm Claudette, however. The National Hurricane Center predicts it will become a tropical storm on Friday evening, officially giving the system a 90 percent chance of formation in the next 48 hours.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the hurricane center expects the storm to make landfall with the eastern Louisiana coast on Saturday and continue on a northeast track, extending impacts to coastal Mississippi and Alabama.
Claudette, once formed, will become the second named storm to form this month and third of the season. Like tropical storms Ana and Bill before it, the storm does not pose a threat to Tampa Bay.
While the Sunshine State will likely be spared, those in coastal Lousiana, Mississippi and Alabama could be in for a long weekend.
The hurricane center has already issued a tropical storm warning for parts of all three states. The agency also warned in its 5 p.m. advisory that, despite not being a hurricane, the system will bring heavy rainfall and could cause flash flooding.
The New Orleans office of the National Weather Service, which is squarely in the storm’s path, said Thursday that Claudette’s biggest threat will be rainfall, though there is also a threat of isolated tornadoes, high winds and coastal flooding.
More will be known about the storm by Thursday evening after the return of an Air Force Reserve Unit reconnaissance aircraft that was sent to survey the system.
Colorado State University predicts there will be 17 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes in 2021.
The next named storms of the season will be called Danny and Elsa.