[Update: Tropical Storm Debby has officially formed in the Gulf of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm warning for part of the Louisiana coast. The original story continues below.]
A weather system moving through the Gulf of Mexico is expected to become a tropical storm this weekend. The threatening storm, which will be named Tropical Storm Debby if it forms, has forced offshore oil workers to evacuate and oil production to temporarily shut down.
The National Hurricane Center released an advisory today, saying: “A tropical storm may be forming… tropical-storm force winds are already occurring in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This system has a 90% chance of becoming a tropical clone during the next 48 hours.”
Forecasters aren’t exactly sure where the storm is heading yet. According to MSNBC, Tropical Storm Debby will most likely head toward Texas although there is a chance it swings east and runs over Florida or north where it would Louisiana.
At 5:00 p.m. ET, Tropical Storm Debby was about 20 miles south-southeast of the Mississippi River. The storm is currently moving North with sustained 50 mph winds. Larger gusts have reached 175 mph.
The Associated Press reports that if Tropical Storm Debby forms in the Gulf, it will be the 1st time since 1851 that 4 named storms have formed in the Gulf of Mexico before July.