Tropical Storm Update: Parts of East Coast Could See Storm Surges, 40 MPH Winds This Weekend

Dangerous storm surge and heavy winds are expected along portions of the Gulf Coast Friday evening after a potential tropical storm grew stronger in the Gulf of Mexico last night, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The system is moving toward the northeast at the brisk pace of 21 mph, forecasters said. The storm should reach the northern Gulf Coast later Friday, then move inland over Georgia, South Carolina and possibly North Carolina this weekend and into next week.

Tropical storm and storm surge warnings are in effect for parts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, with maximum sustained winds already near 40 mph and even stronger gusts. That's enough to make driving difficult, damage trees, power lines and smaller structures, according to the National Weather Service.

"This is a life-threatening situation," the NHC said in an update Friday morning. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions."

Potential Tropical Cyclone Sixteen Public Advisory
A possible tropical storm is heading for the East Coast at a speed of more than 20 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center as of 8 a.m. EDT, October 18, 2019. National Weather Service

The storm is expected to reach a "tropical storm" designation Friday and should continue to gather strength until it touches down in the continental U.S., according to the NHC. It should produce between 2 and 6 inches of rainfall this weekend from the central Gulf Coast to the eastern Carolinas.

Residents located within the warning area should secure their homes by Friday afternoon before rain and wind from the outskirts of the storm make outside preparations "difficult or dangerous," according to the NHC. Dangerous winds will cover a wide area exceeding the exact track of the storm.

One projection has the storm making landfall at Tyndall Air Force Base, the same location Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall last year, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Parts of that area are still devastated from the hurricane, according to the paper.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took to Twitter to warn residents Thursday afternoon.

"Forecasts are predicting heavy rainfall, gusty winds, isolated tornadoes & coastal flooding across NW Florida this weekend," DeSantis said in a tweet. "Residents should prepare now for the chance of flooding & power disruption."

"Appreciate that," responded one citizen on Twitter. "Guess it's time to finish yard work," he said.

Another said she wasn't so sure the state of Florida would be around in the aftermath of the wind and rain damage.

"I guess they should prepare seeing as how it will be a year 'til you get around to helping them if the s*** hits the fan ehh?" she said.