Oil-rig operators in the Gulf of Mexico announced Thursday that they would evacuate workers, and a flash-flood watch was issued for New Orleans ahead of a slow-moving storm system.

The storm front stretches from offshore Louisiana to the Florida panhandle, and is expected to sit in the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of days before making landfall, likely somewhere in Texas, officials said.

Official weather watchers said the storm has a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours, and a 30 percent chance of becoming a Category 3 hurricane. –BF

Bloomberg via San Francisco Chronicle:

At AccuWeather Inc., in State College, Pennsylvania, meteorologists forecast “that this will be an extensive, slow- moving system, capable of affecting the same area for days with downpours, stormy seas and rough surf conditions,” Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist, said on the company’s website. Ten to 20 inches (25 to 51 centimeters) of rain may fall on the north-central coast, he said.

The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood watch for New Orleans through the weekend.

BP said today it will remove all workers from Gulf platforms by tomorrow. The company yesterday began removing more than 500 non-essential workers from some platforms in the Southern Green Canyon area, according to a message on the company’s hurricane hot line.

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