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Raleigh, N.C. — A tropical storm watch is in effect for several Gulf Coast states as a system – which would be named Barry – threatens to intensify into a hurricane and make landfall in Louisiana this weekend.
Currently categorized as a “potential cyclone,” the storm is expected to strengthen into a depression Thursday morning and a tropical storm by Thursday evening. Winds may hit up to 85 miles per hour upon landfall.
“Winds are still at 30 miles per hour, so it’s not quite a tropical storm yet, but we are certain that it’s going to become one,” WRAL meteorologist Kat Campbell said.
WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said some Gulf Coast states could see up to 20 inches of rain from the slow-moving storm. Campbell said the storm is moving at eight miles per hour, giving the storm time to strengthen in the gulf. The potential for flooding and storm surges are the biggest concerns moving forward, Campbell said.
“This could be the first hurricane of the season,” Maze said.
Maze is anticipating the storm could be a Category 1 hurricane by Saturday afternoon. The storm is expected to impact the eastern side of Texas and most of Louisiana, Campbell said.
“It will continue to track to the north after that,” Campbell said, “and the National Hurricane Center is already issuing some watches for parts of the Louisiana coastline.”
North Carolina will most likely not be impacted by the storm, Maze said.
Campbell said rain chances will increase around central North Carolina Thursday because of an approaching cold front to our northwest.
The viewing area will be under a Level 1 risk for severe storms Thursday as a line of potentially strong thunderstorms will hit the Triangle ahead of the front, Campbell said. This system could bring damaging winds, frequent lightning and heavy rain.
There’s a 60 percent chance for storms Thursday and 50 percent chance on Friday.