The system in the Gulf is still designated Potential Tropical Cyclone Three. Even though winds are approaching tropical storm strength, it’s still very messy without a well-defined center of rotation.
In any case, the system is heading for landfall tonight or early tomorrow morning on the Louisiana or Mississippi coast. There is still some chance that it will organize enough to generate winds of 40 mph in some part of the circulation, which would earn it the name Tropical Storm Claudette.
Some winds just below 40 mph have already been detected on the east side of the system.
The system is extremely disorganized. Hostile upper-level winds are making the circulation very lopsided. This structure means that further organization and intensification will be slow and limited, if it occurs at all. But it can still cause problems.
The most dangerous weather will occur on the east (right) side and ahead of the circulation center. Those strong upper-level winds are pushing the worst weather off to the east. The tilting of the system has even exceeded expectations. Tropical Storm Warnings, alerting for the expectation of winds of at least 40 mph, have been extended east to include the Pensacola area.
Already today, a strong surge of wind will reach the central northern Gulf coast from the New Orleans area to the western Florida Panhandle, well ahead of the center of circulation. Periods of heavy rain will get there before the wind.
The main effects from the storm will initially be felt in Southeastern Louisiana (in and around New Orleans), coastal Mississippi, coastal Alabama, and the western panhandle of Florida. Heavy rain, gusty winds, coastal flooding in low-lying areas from storm surge, and the possibility of some tornadoes are expected in parts of that area.
After the system comes ashore, it will weaken, but the impacts will spread across the Southeast into the southern Appalachian Mountains over the weekend.
Widespread rainfall amounts around 6 inches with some spots getting a foot is the current forecast. Rivers in the area are already elevated, so the potential for flooding is there.
Besides this potential system, nothing else is expected to pop up in the tropics into the middle of next week at least.