Tropical Storm Debby was slowly moving closer to the northern rim of the U.S. Gulf Coast with 60 mph winds early Sunday morning, and was expected to strengthen into a hurricane and hit Texas over the next two days.
Debby, which was centered about 170 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and was crawling northward at around 2 mph early Sunday, might strengthen into a hurricane by Tuesday night, Reuters quoted the U.S. National Hurricane Center as saying.
Forecasters expect Debby to turn west, skirting the Louisiana coast through Tuesday, and hitting Texas later. A tropical storm warning had been issued for the coast from the Pearl River west to Morgan City, excluding the city of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. The forecasters warned that tropical storm conditions were expected to first reach the coast within the warning area by Sunday night, making outside preparations "difficult or dangerous."
Storm surge and high tide could cause flooding in areas near the Louisiana coast.
The storm warning was also issued from the Mississippi-Alabama border eastward to the Florida Panhandle's Ochlocknee River.
The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Saturday that about 8 percent of daily output of oil and natural gas were shut down.
A tornado touched down in Collier County in southwest Florida and forecasters warned other twisters were possible, according to The Associated Press. And The Naples Daily News reported that several homes were damaged and tree limbs were down, smashing atop at least two cars.
It was the first time four tropical storms have been recorded before July 1.