Tropical Storm Nestor Forms In Gulf Of Mexico
Tropical Storm Nestor formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, threatening the northern Gulf Coast with rising seawater, high winds and heavy rains.
The National Hurricane Center said high winds and dangerous storm surge were likely along parts of the northern Gulf Coast, plus heavy rain that could help a parched region deal with a drought. It is scheduled to reach the Carolinas by Sunday.
Conditions were expected to get worse along the coast late Friday into early Saturday. Events including high school football games were canceled or postponed, but officials were trying to calm fears of a hard hit similar to Hurricane Michael last year.
Forecasters said at 1 p.m. Friday that the system was about 195 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It had top sustained winds of 60 mph and was moving to the northeast at 22 mph.
Nestor was forecast to hit the coast around Mexico Beach on Saturday morning without strengthening into a hurricane. Blasted by Michael in October 2018, the area is still trying to recover.
A tropical storm warning was in effect from the Mississippi-Alabama line to Yankeetown, Florida, and from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River.
Forecasters expect blustery winds and heavy rain in parts of Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida, reaching the Carolinas and Virginia by Sunday.
The Coast Guard said 20-foot seas were possible around Panama City, and dangerous rip currents were possible along beaches during what is still a busy tourism period.
In New Orleans, winds hampered crews that were trying to place explosives to topple to damaged construction cranes towering over a partially collapse hotel project at the edge of the French Quarter. Officials delayed plans to bring down the structures before Nestor approached.
"We're working as fast as possible," said Fire Chief Tim McConnell.
High schools from Alabama to the eastern Florida Panhandle called off football games scheduled for Friday night, and officials in Panama City tried to assure residents that the storm wouldn't be a repeat of Category 5 Hurricane Michael last year.
"We are optimistic this will be a slight wind and rain event," said Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford.
The system could dump from 2 to 4 inches of rain from the central Gulf Coast to the eastern Carolinas, where many areas are dried out from weeks without rain, and as much as 6 inches in spots, forecasters said.
Seawater pushed inland by the storm could rise as much as 5 feet as storm surge in Florida's Big Bend region, much of which is less-developed than the rest of the state's coast.