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NEW ORLEANS - Beleaguered officials in New Orleans are now bracing for a tropical storm that could descend on the Gulf of Mexico within the next 48 hours and delay oil spill recovery efforts in the area.
The National Hurricane Center said Friday morning that there is a 70 percent chance that a low-pressure area now developing over the western Caribbean Sea may pick up steam and head toward the Gulf, where oil facilities are clustered and BP continues to fight back the oil spill.
Coast Guard officials told NBC News that they will likely need to remove people from rigs if the storm develops and moves toward south Louisiana -- a process that they would need to begin five days before the storm would hit land.
FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...
1. SATELLITE IMAGES AND SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THAT THE LOW PRESSURE AREA BETWEEN THE NORTHERN COAST OF HONDURAS AND GRAND CAYMAN HAS BECOME BETTER ORGANIZED TODAY. AN AIR FORCE RECONNAISSANCE PLANE IS CURRENTLY APPROACHING THE SYSTEM TO DETERMINE IF A TROPICAL DEPRESSION HAS FORMED. REGARDLESS... UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE BECOMING MORE CONDUCIVE FOR DEVELOPMENT AND A TROPICAL DEPRESSION WILL LIKELY FORM AT ANY TIME LATER TODAY OR SATURDAY. THERE IS A HIGH CHANCE...80 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS. THIS SYSTEM...ACCOMPANIED BY HEAVY RAINS AND GUSTY WINDS...IS FORECAST TO MOVE SLOWLY TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST AND REACH THE YUCATAN PENINSULA IN A DAY OR TWO. ALL INTERESTS IN THE NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA AND YUCATAN SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS SYSTEM.