A developing tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico will drift northward and threaten the coast from Texas to Florida with flooding rainfall, severe thunderstorms and rip currents this week.
"The system, currently dubbed Potential Tropical Cyclone Three, could become Cindy at any time now," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
"The system currently has some tropical and non-tropical characteristics and could be classified as a tropical or sub-tropical storm," Kottlowski said.
Some strengthening is possible, due to the slow-moving nature of the storm, should disruptive winds aloft ease for a time.
Storm to make landfall in US
The storm will drift northwestward through the middle of the week.
Landfall along the upper Texas coast or over western Louisiana is possible and may occur Wednesday night or Thursday.
Late this week and this weekend, the storm is likely to take a northeasterly path over the southern United States.
Southern US at risk for major flooding
Regardless of the official classification and exact path, the greatest impacts from the storm will be torrential rainfall and the risk of major flooding in the Deep South and other parts of the eastern United States.
Initially, areas along the Interstate-10 corridor along a 600-mile-long swath from the Louisiana coast to part of the Florida west coast will experience the heaviest rainfall and greatest risk of flooding.
"Rainfall of 6-12 inches is likely over part of the central Gulf Coast states with locally higher amounts of 15-20 inches possible, due to the slow-moving nature of the storm," Kottlowski said.
Cities that could experience flooding problems from the storm include Tallahassee, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; Biloxi, Mississippi; and New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
As the storm approaches land, heavy rain with isolated flooding is likely to wrap westward across part of northeastern Texas, including the Houston area. Should the storm jog farther west than the upper Texas coast, then flooding rainfall could extend farther south along the Texas coast.
Heavy rain and the risk of flooding directly associated with the storm are also likely to extend northward to I-20 late this week.
"After the storm moves inland, it may be picked up by a non-tropical system and pulled northeastward across the lower Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio valleys and onward across the southern Appalachians this weekend," Kottlowski stated.
"Some areas over the interior Southeast states may experience life-threatening flooding as a result."
Tornadoes may be spawned by storm
Locally gusty winds with and without thunder could down tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages near the Gulf coast.
"People along the upper Gulf coast will also need to be vigilant for the risk of a few tornadoes and waterspouts through Thursday," according to AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist Richard Schraeger.
Bathers, boaters at risk from dangerous storm
In addition to the risk of flooding and severe thunderstorms, a persistent flow of air off the Gulf of Mexico will create hazardous surf and seas.
There will be an elevated risk of strong and frequent rip currents along much of the Gulf coast due to the large nature of the storm. The worst conditions are likely from northern Florida to Louisiana.
Seas over much of the Gulf of Mexico may remain too rough for small craft through at least Thursday.
This system follows Tropical Storm Bret, which formed just north of South America on Monday. Bret is currently moving westward along the southern edge of the Caribbean Sea but is not expected to be a threat to the U.S.
Beyond the two current tropical features, tropical development is unlikely over the Atlantic basin through at least this weekend.