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Tropical storm expected to form in Gulf Coast, bringing "dangerous" storm surge

A disturbance in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico is likely to become a tropical storm that will hit the northern U.S. Gulf Coast with wind, rain, and storm surges, forecasters said Thursday.

Moving off the eastern coast of Mexico, the low-pressure system is likely to develop into a tropical or subtropical system before Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center

The National Weather Service warned of tropical storm-force winds for sections of the Gulf Coast, and "dangerous" storm surges of up to five feet along with parts of the Florida coast. Forecasters have issued both a tropical storm warning and a storm surge warning. 

The disturbance, which could become Tropical Storm Nestor, had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and was located about 600 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It's moving north at approximately 7 mph, with a northeastern turn expected.

A tropical storm could bring as much as 3 inches of rain on the Florida Panhandle coast and as much as 1.5 inches inland. Arid regions of Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida are in the storm's possible track.

A tropical storm could affect high school and college football games scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Officials also fear high winds could destabilize the remnants of an 18-story Hard Rock Hotel that collapsed while under construction in New Orleans, killing three.

The system could still be a tropical storm with winds above 39 mph on Sunday morning over eastern North Carolina before moving back over water, forecasters said.

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