Tropical Storm Barry threatens north-central Gulf Coast, Florida not included

Tropical Storm Barry formed Thursday morning and is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane by Friday night or early Saturday morning. On its current forecast track, it is expected to make landfall along the central or southeastern coast of Louisiana.

The second tropical storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season formed Thursday morning about 95 miles south southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Barry will bring storm surge, heavy rains and wind conditions across the north-central Gulf Coast. Florida is not included.

Maximum sustained winds had increased to 40 mph. A minimum of 39 mph is required to classify a disturbance as a tropical storm. Barry was moving west at 5 mph. Forecasters say it is still possible for Barry to reach hurricane strength by Friday night of Saturday morning before it makes landfall along the central or southeastern coast of Louisiana.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Louisiana coast from the mouth of the Pearl River to Morgan City. A Storm Surge Warning is now in effect for the Louisiana coast from the mouth of the Atchafalaya River to Shell Beach.

A Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect for the Mississippi coast east of the mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi/Alabama border and for Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas including metropolitan New Orleans. A Storm Surge Watch is now in effect for the Mississippi coast from the mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi/Alabama border.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles mainly to the southeast of the center.

Pinellas County forecast

Rainy weather will continue locally with a 60% chance today, dropping to 50% on Friday. Flooding is possible in low-lying areas with poor drainage as well as on roadways. Pinellas County Emergency Management reminds the public to avoid walking or driving in areas with high water.

Breezy conditions with a south wind of 10-14 mph and gusts up to 22 mph are possible today. South winds of 8-13 mph with gusts up to 21 mph are in the forecast for Friday.

A high rip tide current risk is in effect through Friday evening due to increasing wave action.

Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore and occur most often at low spots or breaks in the sandbar and near structures, such as groins, jetties and piers. The public is advised to swim near a lifeguard and to pay attention to flags and signs.

The National Weather Service says if you are caught in a rip current, yell of help and remain calm. Swim parallel to shore and back to the beach as possible. Do not attempt to swim directly against a rip current.

Suzette Porter is TBN's Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.