Tropical storm conditions possible: What you need to know

At writing time, convection (thunderstorms) are starting to fire near the center of circulation. Storms have had a difficult time developing to the north and west of the center due to strong southwesterly wind shear, but storms are trying to wrap around the center at this time. This could be a sign that wind shear is trying to die down next to the system, allowing it to get better organized. An upper-level trough, located to its west, is keeping the wind shear over the Gulf and will continue to keep shear over the system, probably through its lifetime. For that reason, this storm will most-likely be east-weighted, meaning all the heavy activity will be on its northeastern and eastern side. This is why the potential track towards Texas is important, because it would put much of Louisiana on the "nasty" side of the system. Hurricane Hunters will be going into the system later today to determine if it indeed is a tropical storm. Remember, for a system to become a tropical storm it has to have winds of 39 mph or higher and a closed circular low pressure area. It already has winds of 40 mph, so they will just need to find a closed circulation for it to finally get a name.

Rain and tropical squalls will begin to work into the area later this afternoon and this evening. More concentrated heavy rainfall will begin to work into southeastern Louisiana tonight. By tomorrow, the system will slowly move northwest, allowing rain and thunderstorm activity to increase across the area. Easterly winds will be sustained in the 12-22 mph range through tomorrow, with winds gusting as high as 30-40 mph in storms. By Thursday, the system should be making landfall somewhere across southeastern Texas/southwestern Louisiana. Potential landfall locations extend from Galveston Island to Vermillion bay. As the storm draws closer, rain coverage and intensity will increase. For this reason, I think Thursday will have the worst conditions for central Louisiana. This means heavy rainfall and wind gusts exceeding 40-50 mph in storms. This could be enough to knock out power for a few customers. The main hazard, however, will be heavy rainfall. It's too early to know where the flooding rains will setup, but the highest rainfall totals could be closer to the coast. However, inland areas could see anywhere from 4-10 inches of rain through Friday.

There could also be a slight tornado threat on Thursday as the tropical system is making landfall to our west.

Here's the bottom line...I do not feel this system will be catastrophic for the area. I am not expecting a hurricane at this time, or any type of widespread damage. However, this is also not a storm to take lightly. We learned during Gustav that a storm doesn't have to have really strong winds to produce widespread effects. The flooding threat is the threat that needs to be respected the most, as slow-moving tropical storms are notorious for causing flooding in this area. If you live in a low-lying area or an area prone to flooding, any precautions you can take, such as sandbags, cannot hurt. Also, once the event is ongoing, do not travel on flooded roads and monitor KALB for the latest updates on road closures.

~Meteorologist Trevor Sonnier