MIAMI A storm packing heavy winds in the Gulf of Mexico is likely to strengthen into a tropical cyclone before it tears into coastal Louisiana on Monday evening, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
It said the storm, centered about 50 miles south-southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana, was already packing sustained winds near tropical storm force.
There was a "high chance" it will become the second named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season before it makes landfall in the Terrebonne Parish area near Caillou Bay early Monday evening, the Miami-based hurricane center said.
Forecasters at the hurricane center were also keeping close watch over an area of disturbed weather in the southeastern Gulf that could strengthen into a tropical depression later this week, potentially hampering oil spill clean-up efforts.
In its latest advisory, the Miami-based hurricane center said the broad area of low pressure, which was moving northwestward at about 15 miles per hour had a "medium chance" of becoming a tropical storm over the next 48 hours.
Regardless of development, it said the system was likely to bring rainfall and gusty winds to the Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba over the next day or so.
Most computer models showed the storm on a track that would take it over central Texas, well away from the site of BP's blown-out Macondo well off the coast of Louisiana.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov 30 and meteorologists predict an active storm season. Last week, Alex became the first Atlantic storm in fifteen years to gain hurricane strength in the month of June.
(Editing by Todd Eastham).