Tropical storm heads to Gulf coast as rain douses Southeast

Jay Reeves
Associated Press

Birmingham, Ala. – Storms with heavy rains doused the drought-parched South on Friday, prompting alerts for floods and tornadoes as two new tropical storms formed offshore, including one in the Gulf of Mexico.

The National Hurricane Center said Olga, located in the Gulf of Mexico south of Louisiana, would contribute to rainfall that could total 10 inches (25 centimeters) in spots by Sunday. Neither it nor Pablo, far out in the Atlantic, was expected to reach hurricane strength.

Cars travel along a partially flooded road in Helena, Ala., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. The National Weather Service said a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico that could briefly become a tropical weather system was combining with a cold front to dump heavy rains across the parched region.

The National Weather Service said a cold front moving into the South would collide with Olga to produce rain and possibly worse through much of the weekend.

Forecasters issued a tornado watch for southern Mississippi and southwestern Alabama, and a powerful storm prompted a tornado warning near Mobile. No damage was reported.

Parts of coastal Louisiana could receive as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain Friday and Saturday, forecasters said, and 4 inches (10 centimeters) was possible across a wide section of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Streets were flooding around New Orleans and metro Birmingham, where about 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) of rain fell Friday morning, and more rain was on the way.

With scores of high school football games already rescheduled because of the weather, the University of Alabama canceled its homecoming pep rally, bonfire and parade because of the forecast.

Rainfall totals up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) were possible from east Texas to Georgia and as far north as Kentucky, the service said. Hurricane forecasters said there was a slight chance of flash flooding from the Texas-Louisiana line into northeastern Alabama.

Olga had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph) and was centered about 260 miles (418 kilometers) south of Lake Charles, Louisiana on Friday afternoon. It was moving north-northeast at 18 mph (29 kph). The storm was expected to be a depression over Michigan by Sunday morning.

Officials said Pablo was a small storm that was moving east-southeast about 325 miles (525 kilometers) west-southwest of the Azores.

No coastal tropical cyclone watches or warnings were in effect.