A slow-moving tropical system packing walloping rains is slogging its way to the Gulf coast, which could be drenched with up to 20 inches, leading Louisiana's governor to declare a state of emergency Thursday because of the threat of flash flooding.
Tropical storm warnings are out from Mississippi to Texas including New Orleans. The National Hurricane Center said the system that is now a depression in the Gulf of Mexico will dump 10 to 15 inches of rain over southern areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama through Sunday and as much as 20 inches in some spots. By Friday, it could become Tropical Storm Lee, the 12th named storm of the season.
Early forecasts were for landfall early Saturday afternoon in south-central Louisiana, though National Weather Service meteorologist Frank Revitte said it was too early for a firm time or location. The depression has sustained winds of 35 mph and was moving toward the northwest at only about 2 mph late Thursday.
"Wow. This could be a very heavy, prolific rain-maker," Revitte said.
According to a hurricane center chart, maximum sustained winds could reach 60 mph by Saturday, lower than hurricane strength of 74 mph.