A tropical storm warning has been issued for parts of the Florida and Alabama Gulf Coast as Tropical Storm Debby continues to crawl northward through the Gulf of Mexico at 2 miles per hour and is expected to strengthen.
A warning means that tropical storm conditions could be felt within 36 hours.
Forecasters warned that Debby could produce winds near hurricane force in the coming days and could approach hurricane strength by Monday. They expect Debby's center to remain in the northern Gulf over the next few days. No immediate landfall has been forecast.
At 10 a.m. CDT (11 a.m. EDT), the storm was centered about 190 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and was moving slowly northeast at around 6 mph. The storm was expected to strengthen into a hurricane by Tuesday night, the National Hurricane Center said.
The National Hurricane Center said warnings are currently in place from the Mississippi-Alabama border eastward to the Florida Panhandle's Ochlockonee River. Warnings are also in effect for the coast of Louisiana, from the mouth of the Pearl River westward to Morgan City. The city of New Orleans isn't included, according to the center.
Debby has already caused the suspension of 8 percent of the region's oil and gas production. Nine production platforms and one drilling rig were evacuated, the government has told the media. No effect on oil prices is expected unless the storm strengthens and more production platforms shut down.
There have been reports of at least one tornado linked to the storm touching down Saturday in southwest Florida. There were no injuries reported.