The Gulf Coast could get a hurricane this weekend, the National Hurricane Center warned Wednesday.
Tropical Depression 16 is heading toward the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on the way to the northern Gulf Coast, and it could impact anywhere from Florida to Louisiana.
The Air Force Reserve’s Hurricane Hunters flew into the storm Wednesday and found well-defined circulation.
The system formed in the Caribbean Sea, and it is expected to move across Nicaragua and Honduras late Thursday and emerge into the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.
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It is expected to become Tropical Storm Nate, and tropical storm warnings have been issued for those areas.
The Hurricane Center said conditions were “quite favorable” for strengthening. However, the storm will slow as it hits land in Central America and possibly the Yucatan Peninsula.
“The system is forecast to continue strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico and could affect portions of the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane this weekend, with direct impacts from wind, storm surge, and heavy rainfall,” the center said Wednesday evening. “However, it is too early to specify the timing, location, or magnitude of these impacts. Residents along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida should monitor the progress of this system for the next several days and heed any advice given by local officials.”
Hancock County is already under a coastal flood advisory until noon Sunday thanks to strong easterly winds. Tides up to 2 feet above normal are possible through Friday, and up to 3 feet above normal through early Sunday. There also is a small craft advisory until 7 a.m. Friday.
Jeff Clark contributed to this story.