Storm system bears down on Gulf Coast

If the system becomes a tropical storm, it will be named Lee.

A low-pressure system pushing northwest through the Gulf of Mexico has a strong chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next two days and threatening U.S. states on northern coast of the gulf, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday.

The system, now over the central part of the gulf, already has prompted some major international oil companies to evacuate workers from offshore oil platforms.

The Miami-based hurricane center said the low pressure area was producing a large area of clouds, thunderstorms and gusty winds as it headed slowly to the northwest.

“This system has a high chance … 70 percent … of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours … Interests along the entire northern Gulf of Mexico coast should monitor the progress of this disturbance,” the NHC said.

Some computer models showed the developing system, which would be called Lee if it became a tropical storm, could pass over the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. Lee will be the 12th named storm of the busy 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.

Texas is in the grip of a severe drought and rains from the developing weather system could bring some relief.

All eyes on Katia in Atlantic

Katia, a Category 1 Hurricane, has weakened to a tropical storm but some restrengthening was forecast during the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its latest report on Thursday.

Thursday afternoon, Katia was located about 930 miles east of the northern Leeward Is­lands, packing maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour.

Forecasters say it is still too early to predict with certainty that the storm poses no threat to the Eastern Seaboard.


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