U.S. Gulf Coast Bracing for Hurricane Gordon as Storm Nears

Is it safe to visit Florida? Weather travel update as tropical storm heads to Florida Keys

Is it safe to visit Florida? Weather travel update as tropical storm heads to Florida Keys

Tropical Storm Gordon is expected to smack the Gulf Coast on Tuesday night - possibly as a hurricane - and could bring life-threatening storm surge to low-lying coastal areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, forecasters said.

Tropical Storm Gordon spaghetti models are showing a westward track as it moves across Florida, and we're expecting winds and rain in Sebastian and Vero Beach. In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency, as well, and said state resources are being mobilized.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for the Alabama and MS coastlines, with tropical storm warnings extending to Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle.

Gordon is expected to strengthen into a hurricane, with sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour, before it reaches the north central Gulf Coast late Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said. Its tropical storm-force winds, as high as 70 mph, extended up to 80 miles from Gordon's center and were affecting the coastlines in Alabama and Florida's western Panhandle.

"And remember, if you're even inland you can get some of these heavy rainfall totals, so now is the time to be prepared". Some gradual strengthening is expected, and it's forecast Gordon will be a low-end, Category 1 hurricane at landfall late tonight or early Wednesday.

"It's a relatively small storm, so you could go one or two counties away from you and it wouldn't be the same impacts".

A storm surge warning has been issued from Shell Beach, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

A number of schools across Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and MS will not open Tuesday and others announced they would close early ahead of the storm's arrival.

A hurricane watch is in place for the MS and Alabama as Gordon moves into the Gulf of Mexico. The storm was not forecast to strike land.

A hurricane watch - meaning that hurricane conditions are possible - was put into effect for the area stretching from the mouth of the Pearl River in MS to the Alabama-Florida border.

"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, according to Reuters. A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for a portion of the Mississippi-Alabama border. As of the 8pm update winds are sustained around 60 miles per hour.

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