Tropical Storm Gordon, which first made landfall on South Florida Monday, is currently intensifying over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico and will threaten the central Gulf Coast with hurricane conditions tonight.
Satellite presentation of the storm this Tuesday illustrates the storm becoming more organized with convection deepening while more thunderstorms wrap around the systems central minimum pressure. As of midday Tuesday, clouds are still covering the center of the storm but as the tropical entity remains over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters this afternoon and evening in a relatively-weak wind shear environment, Gordon may strengthen into a hurricane. Both WeatherOptics and the National Hurricane Center anticipates Gordon to reach maximum sustained wind speeds of up to 75 mph before making landfall tonight, which will make this cyclone the 4th hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect from the Mouth of the Pearl River to the Alabama-Florida Border, meaning that hurricane conditions (winds of at least 74 mph) are expected and that preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. We expect Gordon to make a landfall somewhere in this vicinity tonight. There is also a Tropical Storm Warning in effect from west of the Mouth of the Pearl River to Grand Isle, including Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas. The region from the Alabama-Florida Border to the Okaloosa-Walton County Line is included in the warning as well. Tropical storm conditions (winds of at least 39 mph) can be expected in all of these locations at some point.
Storm surge will be another issue that Gordon will pose. A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Shell Beach to Dauphin Island due to the possibility of life-threatening water inundation. There is also a Storm Surge Watch in effect from west of Shell Beach to the Mouth of the Mississippi River and from east of Dauphin Island to Navarre. Dangerous flooding may also be a possibility in these areas. Based off the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center, the worst of the surge will occur from Shell Beach to Dauphin Island where 3-5 feet is likely.
Another risk will be heavy rain and flash flooding. Tropical cyclones are almost always heavy rain producers, and Gordon will not be any different. A widespread 4 -8 inches is forecasted across the western Florida Panhandle, southwest Alabama, southern and central Mississippi, southeastern and northeastern Louisiana, and southern Arkansas. Localized rainfall amounts in excess of 1 foot may be possible. This means that some areas will likely experience flash flooding between now and Thursday as Gordon moves to the northwest and further inland while weakening into a tropical depression and eventually a post-tropical cyclone.
As with many tropical cyclones, tornadoes cannot be ruled out. The best risk for spin-up tornadoes will be in the northeastern quadrant of where Gordon tracks. That includes southern Mississippi and Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.
We’ll keep you updated on the progress of Gordon here and on social media.