A tropical system is moving north up the Gulf of Mexico, heading toward the Louisiana Gulf Coast, and forecasters say the disturbance is becoming better organized.
As of an overnight advisory, Bret sits just off the coast of Venezuela with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour, moving west-northwest at 22 miles per hour.
A tropical storm watch is also in effect on the upper Texas coast from west of High Island to San Luis Pass. The Tropical Storm Watch now includes Harris, Galveston, Liberty and Chambers counties.
Forecasters say the Alabama and MS coasts could be inundated with as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain from a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico.
"The disturbance is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 4 to 8 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches over southeastern Louisiana, southern MS, southern Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle through Thursday morning", the NHC said in a statement.
The system is moving to the northwest and should reach the coast by late Wednesday. Once there's a well-defined center of low-level circulation, and hurricane hunters collect data on the storm, the models and resulting forecast for this potential system will become more detailed. This storm is now situated just off the coast of Venezuela moving west northwest at 25 miles per hour. If that tropical depression strengthens into the tropical storm, it would be named using the next name on that year's list of names.
The National Hurricane Center gives the storm a 80 percent chance for development over the next 48 hours and a 90 percent chance for development over the course of the next five days. Significant rainfall is considered the biggest threat to coastal destinations at this time. The reason it is a "potential' cyclone is because it does not meet qualifications of a tropical storm yet".
Elsewhere in the Atlantic basin, Tropical Storm Bret is forecast to weaken as it churns off the coast of South America, 185 miles east-southeast of Curacao.
Forecasters say the Alabama and MS coasts could be inundated with as much as 15 inches of rain. On that path the center of the storm was expected to come ashore somewhere along the Louisiana/Texas border by late Wednesday or early Thursday.