Northern U.S. Gulf Coast at Risk of Flooding as Tropical Storm Cindy Forms

An enhanced satellite image of water vapor from early Tuesday morning shows the extensive cloud shield associated with Tropical Storm Cindy in the Gulf of Mexico. (NASA, experimental GOES-16 data)

A tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico may dump more than 10 inches of rain over portions of the northern U.S. Gulf Coast through Friday of this week raising the specter of significant flooding in the hardest-hit areas.

The storm, which earned the name Cindy Tuesday afternoon, is one of two active storms in the tropical Atlantic Ocean basin. Forecasters are also monitoring Tropical Storm Bret in the eastern Caribbean, though it is forecast to weaken. It is the first time we have seen two simultaneous pre-July named storms in the Atlantic since 1968.

Given the gulf system’s potential to unload copious rainfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast, it is of greatest concern. Tropical storm warnings have been posted from High Island, Tex., to the mouth of the Pearl River in Louisiana.

This is an expansive system, already bringing heavy rain from the Florida panhandle to southeast Louisiana. The storm is centered about 265 miles south of Morgan City, La., or about 355 miles southeast of Galveston, Tex., and is stationary.

The system packs 45 mph winds, but its biggest hazard is expected to be its rainfall.

The latest three-day rainfall forecast from the Weather Prediction Center includes a bull’s eye of at least 10 inches over coastal Mississippi and Alabama, including Biloxi and Mobile.

Flash flood watches have been posted for much of this area through Thursday evening, and the National Weather Service is warning of “multiple rounds of very heavy rain” resulting in the potential for “significant” flash flooding.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Brian McNoldy

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