(AP/WAVY) – The disturbance strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico is now Tropical Storm Nestor.
The National Hurricane Center said storm surge and tropical storm warnings continue for portions of the northern Gulf Coast. Dangerous storm surge and tropical storm force winds are expected.
The system, which would be named Nestor, should bring a wet weekend across much of the drought-parched Southeast, where some events were being canceled and officials were trying to calm fears of a hard hit.
Festevents in Norfolk announced Friday that Sunday’s Town Point Park Wine Festival is cancelled because of this storm system.
Forecasters said at 1 p.m. Friday that the system was about 195 miles (365 kilometers) south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It had top sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) and was moving to the northeast at 22 mph (35 kph).
Forecasters expect blustery winds and heavy rain in parts of Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida, reaching the Carolinas and Virginia by Sunday.
Super Doppler 10 Meteorologist Jeff Edmondson says wind gusts could be in excess of 30 miles per hour at times and up to two inches of rain are possible with this storm across Hampton Roads Sunday.
In New Orleans crews were preparing to explode two badly damaged construction cranes that are towering over a partially collapsed hotel project at the edge of the French Quarter. They planned to bring the cranes down Friday just ahead of winds that could cause them to tumble out of control.
High schools from Alabama to the eastern Florida Panhandle canceled or postponed football games scheduled for Friday night, and officials in Panama City tried to assure residents that the storm wouldn’t be a repeat of Category 5 Hurricane Michael last year.
“We are optimistic this will be a slight wind and rain event,” said Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford.
The system could dump from 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain from the central Gulf Coast to the eastern Carolinas, where many areas are dried out from weeks without rain, and as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) in spots, forecasters said.
Seawater pushed inland by the storm could rise as much as 5 feet (1.5 meters) as storm surge in Florida’s Big Bend region, much of which is less-developed than the rest of the state’s coast.