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Thanks a lot, Georgia: Tropical depression likely to develop in Gulf of Mexico.

An area of disturbed weather over central Georgia, Invest 92L, has about an 80 percent chance of organizing into a tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico over the next five days, according to the National Hurricane Center. [NHC]
Published Jul. 8

This won't help the Florida-Georgia rivalry any: Georgia is sending a trough of low pressure developing over the central part of the state south toward the Florida Panhandle that could form the second named storm of the season.

Invest 92L, which is what the area of disturbed weather is currently called, has about an 80 percent chance of organizing into a tropical system over the next five days, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The weather system is expected to reach the northeastern Gulf overnight or early Tuesday, and then meteorologists will closely watch what happens next. Once over the warmer-than-normal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it could strengthen into a tropical cyclone, forecasters said.

If it reaches tropical storm strength, the system will be named Barry.

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane

Hurricane center forecaster Stacy Stewart said about 70 percent of tropical systems formed during this part of the season start as a wave coming across the Atlantic from Africa. The other 30 percent can come from disturbances over the Atlantic.

It is rare for a tropical disturbance to form over land, he said, though it is not an anomaly.

"It just happens that normally we see these further to the east over the Atlantic," he said, "but nature doesn't have any boundaries. It's happened before, and it will happen again."

West and central Florida will get heavy rain throughout the week as the low pressure moves southwest.

But if it strengthens into a tropical cyclone, it is unlikely to bounce back onto the Panhandle, meteorologists said. Instead, it will likely move toward the central and western Gulf. The warm water could continue to fuel the storm as it heads west, making it a potential threat to Louisiana and Texas.

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If it were to turn east and head to Florida, Stewart said, there wouldn't be enough time for it to develop into a significant storm by landfall.

If a storm forms it will be because the Gulf Loop Current, a water pattern associated with the Gulf Stream, is pulling warm water from the Caribbean and raising the temperature of the eastern Gulf — which were already warm following a mild winter.

Regardless, Tampa Bay residents should watch out for heavy rains, wind gusts and the possibility of tornadoes through the end of the week, said National Weather Service meteorologist Tony Hurts of the Ruskin bureau.

"The main threat is going to be rainfall over southwest and central Florida," he said.

Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at dfigueroa@tampabay.com. Follow @danuscripts.

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