Weather forecasters believe Tropical Storm Gordon will strengthen to a hurricane late Tuesday right as it hits the central US Gulf Coast.
To make matters worse, the National Hurricane Center is warning Gulf Coast residents to watch for a “life-threatening” storm surge. It predicts rising waters of 3 to 5 feet in an area stretching from Shell Beach, Louisiana to Dauphin Island, Alabama.
Gordon formed into a tropical storm early Monday near the Florida Keys. It drenched Florida on Labor Day, forcing officials in Miami and the Florida Panhandle to close beaches due to rough surf and potential rip currents.
More than 4,000 Florida Power & Light customers lost power on Monday as a result of the weather.
Early Tuesday morning, winds from Gordon clocked in at 65 miles an hour as it centered 280 miles east and southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Officials have issued a hurricane warning for a broad area stretching from the mouth of the Mississippi to the Alabama-Florida border. Up to eight inches of rain are expected in some parts of the Gulf states by late Thursday.
In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Monday as he prepared to deploy 200 National Guard troops to the southeastern part of the state.
The mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, promised residents that the city has “the pumps and the power” needed for the storm. But authorities are also issuing a voluntary evacuation order for people outside the city’s levee protection system.
The 2018 hurricane season officially began June 1st and ends Nov. 1st. In addition to Gordon, Tropical Storm Florence is hovering over the eastern Atlantic but is not expected to make landfall.