- NASA/Handout via REUTERS
- Tropical Storm Gordon is getting stronger as it heads up the Gulf Coast.
- Forecasters predict the storm will strengthen to a hurricane before it makes landfall in Mississippi Tuesday night.
- The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm surge along the Gulf Coast could reach up to 5 feet.
- Rain totals in Florida’s panhandle, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas are forecasted from 4 to 8 inches up to 12 inches in some isolated areas.
Tropical Storm Gordon is centered about 100 miles off the coast of Panama City, Florida on Tuesday morning, and it’s getting stronger as it eyes Mississippi.
After dumping rain on the Florida peninsula, Gordon’s winds have increased to 65 mph, and the forecasted rain totals for the Gulf Coast are now higher.
Heading northwest at 15 mph, the National Hurricane Center predicts Gordon will strengthen to a hurricane before it likely makes landfall in Mississippi Tuesday night.
Until then, the tropical storm could cause dangerous storm surge, strong winds, and flash flooding along the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle to Louisiana.
Tropical Storm Gordon has developed near Key Largo with winds of 45mph. It’s producing gusts to tropical storm force here in South Florida near the coast. pic.twitter.com/sLIpqHBmyR
— Brandon Orr (@BrandonOrrWx) September 3, 2018
After causing a soggy long weekend in the Bahamas and southern Florida, the storm is picking up moisture in the Gulf of Mexico, and is expected to cause flash flooding along the Gulf Coast.
Forecasters are expecting 4 to 8 inches of rain over the western Florida Panhandle, southwest Alabama, Mississippi, southern Louisiana, and southern Arkansas, with some areas seeing up to 12 inches through Thursday.
“It looks like for the next three or four days we’re going to be having to really watch close,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said in a video briefing on Facebook Monday, according to Reuters. “And remember, if you’re even inland you can get some of these heavy rainfall totals, so now is the time to be prepared.”
Graham said there could be waves in the Gulf of Mexico up to 15 feet, and that cruise ships and other boats were avoiding Gordon’s path.
The storm surge – the quick rise in water caused by a hurricane’s strong winds – could reach 2 to 5 feet from the western middle of the Florida peninsula to the Mississippi-Alabama border, and 1 to 2 feet from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Louisiana-Texas border.
“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the NHC forecast warns.
A hurricane warning is in effect from the Alabama-Florida Border to the mouth of the Pearl River in Louisiana.
A tropical storm warning is in effect along the Gulf Coast from Walton County, Florida to the Alabama-Florida border, and from the Pearl River to Morgan City, Louisiana.