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National Hurricane Center: Tropical depression expected to form late today or Thursday

The broad low pressure area located over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico about 100 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Fla., is producing widespread cloudiness, disorganized showers and thunderstorms, according to The National Hurricane Center.

It is still unknown what direction and at what force the weather pattern will eventually take, but forecasters believe the system could produce storm surge and tropical-storm or hurricane-force winds across portions of the Louisiana, Mississippi and Upper Texas coasts later this week.

The Hurricane Center said the environmental conditions are conducive for development, and a tropical depression is expected to form late today (Wednesday) or Thursday while the low moves slowly westward across the northern Gulf of Mexico.

An Air Force Reserve Unit reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance this afternoon.

The storm has the potential to produce very heavy rainfall from the Upper Texas Coast to the Florida Panhandle.

Local response

Area officials are preparing their cities and asking citizens to be ready as well.

Groves Fire Chief Dale Jackson, who is also the city’s emergency management coordinator, said city departments were preparing as if a storm is approaching and will affect the city.

Some preparations include checking generators and trying to finish up some of the continuing street projects.

His advice to residents: Be prepared. Make sure you have supplies for five days, including batteries, a full tank of gas, medications filled— these are tasks you don’t want to be doing at the last minute. If the possible storm doesn’t affect the area, then you are ahead of the game, he said.

Nederland leaders were also urging citizens to be prepared and they are preparing as well. The city street department crews were tasked with ditch maintenance for the next several days, according to an advisory from the city. They are also asking the public’s help by removing any trash and debris in their ditches.

“This is the second week of the month, so trash trucks are working on the part of town north of Nederland Avenue,” the advisory said. “City trash trucks continue to work on overtime to collect the trash and debris from previous weather events; if there has been a delay in removing a trash pile, please contact the Solid Waste Department at 409-723-1541.”

For other storm-related questions in Nederland, contact the city manager’s office at 409-723-1503.

In addition, Port Arthur is asking its citizens to keep ditches and culverts along their property lines free of trash and debris to aid in the drainage of neighborhoods.

Other entities are preparing as well. The Jefferson County Emergency Management Office, Jefferson County Drainage District No. 7 and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office have all posted storm ready information to their Facebook pages.

Keeping up with the weather

Local emergency management officials were also planning to take part in a conference call with the National Weather Service on this morning as well as afternoon for updates on the storm threat.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott scheduled a press conference in Austin on hurricane preparedness and tropical system development today.