MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The first tropical system to hit the US this year is intensifying and is now Tropical Storm Barry.
The storm has been hitting parts of the Deep South with heavy rains Thursday as it continues spinning through the Gulf of Mexico.
Storm surge, heavy rains and hurricane conditions are possible across the North-Central Gulf coast in a couple of days, according to the National Hurricane Center.
At 11 p.m., Barry is about 85 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 165 miles southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to 50 mph with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is expected during the next day or two, and Barry could become a hurricane late Friday or early Saturday.
Barry is moving toward the west near 5 mph and this motion is expected to continue today. A turn toward the west-northwest is expected tonight, followed by a turn toward the northwest on Friday. On the forecast track the center of Barry will be near the central or southeastern coast of Louisiana Friday night or Saturday.
Currently, there is a Hurricane Warning in effect from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from the mouth of the Pearl River to Grand Isle, for Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas including metropolitan New Orleans, and from Intracoastal City to Cameron.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from the mouth of the Atchafalaya River to Shell Beach.
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect from Shell Beach to the Mississippi/Alabama border, from the mouth of the Atchafalaya River to Intracoastal City and for Lake Pontchartrain.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Grand Isle and from Intracoastal City to Cameron.
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from east of the mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi/Alabama border.
More than 4 million people are under flash flood watches from south-central Louisiana to the western Florida panhandle as the system moves over the warm waters.