Tropical Storm Barry hours away from being named

Strengthening will be slow and steady; will become hurricane by Saturday

By John Gaughan - Chief meteorologist, Richard Nunn - Meteorologist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Hurricane Hunters flying into a large tropical low that slid into the Gulf of Mexico over the last 24 hours found pretty much what satellite images had illustrated all day: a huge circulation has enveloped the Gulf of Mexico and there is a lot of moisture in the system just south of Biloxi, Mississippi.

A hurricane watch has been posted for portions of southern Louisiana.

The 8 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center still has the system as "Potential Tropical Cyclone No. 2" with winds of 30 mph. This is just below being declared a tropical depression (winds of 35 mph) and just under the threshold of being named Tropical Storm Barry. Tropical storm strength is achieved when sustained winds are 40 mph or greater. Hurricane strength begins when winds are 74 mph or greater.

TRACKING THE TROPICS: Interactive tracking map

The system will likely become Tropical Depression #2, Thursday morning and become Tropical Storm Barry late Thursday and possibly a hurricane late Friday.

The biggest threat is most likely not from the winds but from extreme rainfall that could exceed 24" over areas just to the right side of the ultimate track of the storm.

Barry's biggest threat? Extreme Rainfall Amounts

As the low drifts south and west, it will drag tropical moisture across our area and enhance our chances for waves of downpours to sweep past Wednesday, but by Thursday, the moisture will be dragged further west and allow Jacksonville to dry out a little.

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