Tropical system could bring 15 inches of rain to Gulf Coast

- People along the Gulf Coast are feeling the effects of a severe storm system that's churning in the Gulf of Mexico.

This, as forecasters say a tropical storm warning has been extended further westward for a disturbance in the central Gulf and it now covers an area from High Island, Texas, to the mouth of the Pearl River between Louisiana and Mississippi.

At 11 a.m. ET, center of disturbance No. 3 was centered about 265 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana -- or about 355 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas. Its maximum sustained winds are at 40 mph and the storm is moving toward the northwest at 10 mph.

FOX 29 News spoke to hurricane expert Bryan Norcross, who said the system -– through it surpasses the 39 mph threshold to be named a tropical storm, which would be Cindy – has multiple swirls and broad winds. Instead, it needs a tighter, better-defined circulation.

The National Weather Service says the biggest threat from the disturbance is the likely heavy rainfall over wide areas of the northern rim of the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters say the Alabama and Mississippi coasts could be inundated with as much as 15 inches.

Police say flooding already is being reported on Dauphin Island south of Mobile, Alabama. The main road leading to the island's narrow western end is partially covered with water, and the city is moving vehicles and equipment to higher ground.

Red flags are flying on the main public beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a warning for people to stay out of the water. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency Tuesday morning because of the flooding threat.

Bands of heavy rain are coming through as far east as the Florida Panhandle.

Coastal Louisiana and Texas are under a tropical storm warning, and forecasters say the Alabama and Mississippi coasts could get as much as 15 inches of rain by Thursday night.

Separately, Tropical Storm Bret is moving along South America's northern coast, northeast of Venezuela. Its maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph with weakening expected to begin later in the day.

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