A potential tropical storm could dump flooding rain in the lower Mississippi Valley this weekend.

As of Tuesday morning, a low-pressure system continued to meander in the southern Gulf of Mexico in the Bay of Campeche. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) are giving this disturbance a 70% chance of strengthening into a tropical storm later this week.

They expect the cluster of thunderstorms to become better organized, with a center of low-level circulation developing. If this happens, and sustained winds around the center reach 39 mph, the system will become a tropical storm, Claudette.

The system should begin to move northward by midweek, and a tropical depression is likely to form late in the week when the low pressure cell moves across the central or northwestern Gulf of Mexico, where sea surface temperatures are very warm, in the lower and middle 80s.

Regardless of development, heavy rain is possible over portions of Central America and southern Mexico during the next several days. Heavy rain could begin to impact portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast as early as Friday.

Preliminary indications from some computer models show a potential for 7 to 10 inches of weekend rain from southern Louisiana to far western Florida. This would include New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana; Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; and Pensacola, Florida. Parts of this region are already quite saturated from recent rounds of heavy rainfall. Additional downpours will likely lead to flooding and possible road closures.

Some cities farther inland like Jackson, Mississippi, and Montgomery, Alabama, could also see heavy rain and localized flooding.

There’s still some uncertainty in the outlook. The eventual strength and exact path of the system will determine how much rain falls and which locations receive the most. Look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.

Impact on freight

Most drivers heading through the lower Mississippi Valley this weekend probably won’t be stopping to pick up freight. The latest FreightWaves SONAR data shows a decrease in the Outbound Tender Volume Index for markets in this area over the past week (OTVIW). This is indicated by their red and white shadings.

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR Outbound Volume Tender Index Weekly Change (OTVIW). To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

Most truckers who hit the potential tropical storm will likely be driving through it to get to the Southeastern and Western markets in blue. These markets have some of the highest amounts of freight being offered by shippers to carriers in the past seven days.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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