June 20, 2017 / 10:25 AM / 3 months ago

Tropical storm likely to form and hit U.S. coast: hurricane center

(Reuters) - A weather system in the Gulf of Mexico has a 90 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm in the next day or two, threatening energy infrastructure as it advances toward Texas and Louisiana, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Tuesday.

Currently located about 265 miles (430 km) south of Morgan City, Louisiana, the weather system is expected to approach the southwest Louisiana coast late on Wednesday and move inland over western Louisiana and eastern Texas on Thursday, the hurricane center said in its latest forecast.

The storm could strengthen slightly before it reaches the coast, the hurricane center said. It extended warnings for the storm westward to High Island, Texas, and of heavy rainfall across most portions of the Gulf Coast.

It now has maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (65 kilometers per hour), the Miami-based forecaster said.

“Satellite imagery shows that the center of the disturbance is gradually become better defined, and it is likely that the system will become a tropical or subtropical cyclone later today,” the hurricane center said.

The storm, currently designated as “Potential Tropical Cyclone Three,” could also cause tornados later on Tuesday from south-central Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port LLC said on Tuesday it had suspended vessel offloading operations at its marine terminal as it monitors the storm system.

Meanwhile, tropical storm Bret is expected to begin weakening later Tuesday and dissipate on Thursday.

That storm, located about 315 miles (505 km) east of Curacao and packing maximum sustained winds of 45 miles (75 km) per hour is moving west-northwest and will continue to proceed across the southeastern Caribbean Sea, the hurricane center said.

Reporting by Apeksha Nair and Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Paul Simao and Lisa Von Ahn

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