MIAMI (AP) -- Tropical Storm Debby has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, interfering with oil and gas production and putting officials on alert for flooding and strong winds from southern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.
A tropical storm warning has been issued for part of the Louisiana coast.
Debby has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and is expected to bring up to six inches of rain along the coast, with isolated amounts of 10 inches. The storm center is expected to linger over the northern Gulf during the next few days, with no landfall in the immediate forecast.
It's the first time four tropical storms have been recorded before July 1 during the Atlantic hurricane season since record keeping began in 1851.
Debby has already forced the suspension of 8 percent of the region's oil and gas production.
Nine production platforms and one drilling rig have been evacuated. The suspended crude production amounts to about 2 percent of U.S. output, but it's not expected to impact oil prices unless the storm strengthens and forces more platforms to close.