Storm swirling in Gulf likely to strengthen

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There's a minimal chance the subtropical system could become tropical in the coming days and turn into Tropical Storm Cindy before making landfall early Thursday morning.

The NHC warns of heavy rains and that tornadoes could occur on Tuesday from south-central Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle. Authorities in various coastal Louisiana and MS communities handed out sandbags for areas along rivers and bayous.

Cindy was 350 miles (560 kilometers) southeast of Galveston, Texas, with top winds of 45 miles an hour late Tuesday.

The disturbance already had winds of 45 miles per hour, but satellite and aircraft data now indicate that the storm has a well-defined center.

The center of Cindy will approach the coast of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas late Wednesday, the NHC said, adding tropical storm warning has been extended eastward to the Alabama-Florida border.

The southern Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are under a tropical storm watch.

Rain and tides, rather than wind, were considered the main danger from the system. Models are projecting between 3-8 inches across the Pine Belt with higher amounts possible in localized areas. The number one concern with Cindy is flash flooding. "They're usually very rain-wrapped", he said. This could lead to coastal flooding, particularly at high tide.

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An abundance of moisture exists on the right side of this storm and that puts us in the wake of heavy rain potential through Thursday morning.

Jim Wascom, director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, encouraged all in the state to prepare now in advance of the storm.

"We've had so much rain, we haven't done any business in about eight weeks because of the rain", said Godfrey, whose campground typically hosts swimmers and boaters.

Crude oil prices for physical delivery along the U.S. Gulf Coast were relatively stable, but cash gasoline prices rose as traders expected heavy rains and possible flooding to hit refineries in the region.

NWS Meteorologist Ken Graham also stressed that any shift in the storm's path - even if it's just 20 or 30 miles - will drastically change the impacts the storm will have in the greater New Orleans area.

All airports in Trinidad & Tobago have reopened, although public schools and many businesses remain closed.

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