NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Tropical Storm Cindy formed Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico, hovering south of Louisiana as it churned tides and spun bands of heavy, potentially flooding rain onto the central and eastern Gulf Coast.
Cindy was about 280 miles (450 km) south of Morgan City, Louisiana, on Tuesday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles (75 km) per hour, the National Hurricane Center said.
Tropical storm force winds are expected to reach the warning area by late Tuesday. It's maximum sustained winds are at 40 miles per hour (65 kph) and the storm is moving toward the northwest at 10 miles per hour (17 kph).
Widespread flooding is expected to be a bigger issue to our east through the New Orleans area and into Biloxi, Mississippi where they could see risky flash flooding.
The storm's eye was located about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Trinidad Monday evening. Some areas could see as many as 12 inches of rain.
WeatherBell Analytics LLC forecast 11 to 13 named tropical storms in the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, according to a May outlook.
Cindy was expected to produce 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 cm) of rain over southeastern Louisiana, southern MS, southern Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle through Thursday, the NHC said.
Also in the Atlantic Ocean is Tropical Storm Bret, which is moving through the southeastern Caribbean Sea. The NHC said those living in areas stretching from the central Texas coast to the western Florida Panhandle should monitor the progress of Cindy. It says Cindy acquired a well-defined center on Tuesday afternoon, becoming the third tropical storm of 2017.
As of the NHC's 11 a.m. EDT advisory update, a tropical storm warning is in effect along the USA coast from High Island, Texas, east to the mouth of the Pearl River along the border of Louisiana and Mississippi.
Forecasters said earlier in the morning Tuesday the Alabama and MS coasts could be inundated with as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain from the tropical storm.
By in large, though, the tone from officials was a cautious one due to the uncertain nature of the track and the possibility that Cindy could drop as few as 3 inches of rain if the track shifted more toward the west.
The storm is expected to begin weakening today and become a tropical depression on Wednesday.
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