MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A tropical storm watch has been issued for the upper west coast of Florida as a tropical disturbance in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico is expected to develop into a tropical or subtropical storm later today or tonight.

At 2 p.m., the center of the system was about 600 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

It was moving to the north at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.

A turn toward the northeast is expected this afternoon or tonight, and a northeastward motion at a faster forward speed is expected on Friday and Saturday. On the forecast track, the system will approach the northern Gulf Coast Friday and Friday night.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Mississippi/Alabama border to the Ochlockonee River, Florida
* Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Mouth of the Pearl River

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* East of the Ochlockonee River to Yankeetown, Florida

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…
* Indian Pass to Clearwater Beach, Florida

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water could reach the following heights above ground somewhere in the indicated areas if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide…

Indian Pass, FL to Chassahowitzka, FL – 3 to 5 ft
Chassahowitzka to Clearwater Beach FL – 2 to 4 ft

Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the coast within the warning area by late Friday, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous.

The disturbance is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches this weekend from the central Gulf Coast and northern and central Florida to the eastern Carolinas, with isolated maximum amounts of 5 inches.

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