Wharton County residents are urged to monitor weather forecasts as a disturbance coming out of Georgia heads for warm Gulf waters.

The system has an 80 percent chance of development into a tropical depression or worse in the next five days. On a southern track now, it’s expected to turn west during the same time period.

“A tropical depression is likely to form ... while the low meanders near the northern Gulf Coast. Regardless of development, this system has the potential to produce heavy rainfall,” Wharton County Emergency Manager Andy Kirkland said. Formation could be late today or tomorrow.

Thunderstorms enter the National Weather Service forecast for El Campo on Thursday, increasing from 40 to 50 percent by Sunday in a forecast issued with a warning that conditions could change quickly based on the development of what could become Tropical Storm Barry. Confidence in current forecasts is specifically labeled as low.

The NWS currently predicts three to four inches of rain through Sunday, July 14, but that too can change in the next few days.

“We have had a wet June, reservoirs in the eastern half (of the county) are high for early-mid July,” Kirkland said.

Local officials and the Texas Department of State Health Services is urging everyone to plan now for up to three days without assistance and have an evacuation plan.

“If you wait until you see a disaster coming, you’ve missed the opportunity to make the best preparations possible, so please don’t delay,” DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt said.

This includes building a disaster supply kit (please see related graphic). Top items include three days worth of food that doesn’t require cooking and a gallon of water per person per day.

Filling your vehicle’s fuel tank is an important one as stores could close or be overwhelmed should an evacuation be ordered.

It’s just too early to know precisely with this system, officials said, as it wasn’t due to enter the Gulf waters until today.

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