At least one dead and 32,000 are left without power as Tropical Storm Gordon makes landfall, with millions in Alabama and Mississippi facing 70mph winds and up to eight inches of rain
- One child reportedly died after a tree fell on a mobile home in Florida – the first death connected to the tropical storm
- Tropical Storm Gordon had winds of 70 miles per hour – which is not enough to gain hurricane status
- A state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama
- Thousands are without power in Dauphin Island, Alabama as flooding, storm surges, and fierce winds batter the area
Tens of thousands are without power along the Gulf Coast late Tuesday and one child reportedly died as the region braced for a tropical storm that made landfall.
Tropical storm Gordon made landfall just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Tuesday.
Gordon was located about 35 miles south-southwest of Mobile, Alabama and was packing maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, the Miami-based weather forecaster said.
A storm must reach winds of 74 miles per hour to reach hurricane status.
‘Rapid weakening is forecast after Gordon moves inland, and is forecast to become a tropical depression on Wednesday,’ the NHC added.
Authorities in northwest Florida say a tree fell on a mobile home, killing a child in Escambia County.
It is the first death directly related to the tropical storm, according to WALA-TV.
Tropical Storm Gordon hurled rough surf, high winds and heavy rain, strengthening as it spun toward the northern U.S. Gulf Coast.
Gordon came ashore late Tuesday along the Mississippi Gulf coast near the Louisiana state line as a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.
‘I’m asking all residents to do their part in getting ready for this storm,’ New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement.
‘The city’s absolute No.1 priority is to ensure the safety of our residents.’
Winds of about 70 miles per hour were expected to reach hurricane force of at least 74 mph by the time storm reaches the Gulf Coast and some areas still recovering from last year’s storms could see 12 inches of rain.
Beaches around Mobile, Alabama, were being washed by storm-driven waves on Tuesday morning, said Stephen Miller, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
‘We’re expecting an increase in winds,’ Miller said in a telephone interview.
‘We could see flooding.’
The storm was producing gusty winds and heavy rain along the coast of the western Florida Panhandle and along the Texas coast, the National Hurricane Center said in an afternoon advisory.
Sea levels could rise as much as 5ft from Shell Beach, Louisiana, to Dauphin Island, Alabama, forecasters said.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency told South Mississippi residents to be prepared to evacuate.
At LaFrance Marina near Ansley, Mississippi, a mile north of Heron Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, marina owner Sue Cates said that a tidal surge is sure to push water into the marina’s low-lying campgrounds, making evacuation ‘the only choice’ people have to protect themselves.
Nevertheless, she said she and her husband will remain in their home, which sits on tall pilings, 24 feet above ground.
Built after Hurricane Katrina, the home is made to withstand a 150 mile-an-hour wind, she said.
‘We’re way up here, and I think we’ll be OK,’ Cates said.
‘People around here are well-trained for this sort of thing.’
In Mississippi, state officials are ordering 12 casinos along the Gulf Coast to close as Gordon approaches.
Mississippi Gaming Commission Executive Director Allen Godfrey says the commission has ordered gambling halls to close at 5pm Tuesday.
Such closures are typical in advance of tropical storms and hurricanes, because casinos are in waterfront locations. While casinos themselves typically don’t flood, access roads and parking areas often do.
Workers are uprooting traffic signal boxes along a beachfront highway in Mississippi and lowering tall traffic lights in advance of Gordon’s arrival.
Mississippi Department of Transportation spokesman Jason Scott says about 50 signal control boxes are being removed along U.S. 90, which parallels the Mississippi Sound and could go underwater in Gordon’s storm surge.
Workers are also lowering dozens of lights from high masts along nearby Interstate 10.
The DOT is locking three drawbridges into place, meaning no more tall boats can move inland to safety.
Workers will then remove long-armed warning gates to keep them from blowing away.
Crews are also on standby to remove sand and debris from U.S. 90 and other roadways after the storm.
U.S. oil producer Anadarko Petroleum Corp evacuated workers and shut production at two offshore oil platforms on Monday, and other companies with production and refining operations along the Gulf Coast said they were securing facilities.
The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 per cent of U.S. crude oil and 5 percent of natural gas output daily, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the ports of New Orleans and Gulfport and Pascagoula, Mississippi, may have to close within 48 hours.
Last year, hurricanes hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, causing widespread destruction and thousands of deaths.
The Inn at Ocean Springs and the Roost Hotel in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, had guests planning to ride out the storm, said Kristin Smith, general manager of both hotels.
‘A lot of guests are real comfortable sticking it out in our rooms,’ Smith said in a telephone interview.
‘Any of our guests who feel like they want to go home we encourage them to follow their instincts.’
Just hours before the storm was expected to come ashore, a few people remained on the beach, soaking in the sun before the tropical rain bands became more numerous.
Others did their familiar pre-storm preparation rituals, including the staff at The Hotel Whiskey in Pass Christian, Mississippi, only about a block away from the Gulf of Mexico.
The hotel restaurant planned to stay open Tuesday evening as usual, fortified by sandbags to keep out torrential rains, the manager said
A hurricane warning is in effect for the mouth of the Pearl River in Mississippi to the Alabama-Florida border.
Forecasters expect Gordon to turn into a hurricane before making a landfall somewhere along or near the Mississippi coast.
The National Hurricane Center is predicting a ‘life-threatening’ storm surge along parts of the central Gulf Coast, and as much as 8 inches of rain could fall in some parts of the Gulf states through late Thursday as the tropical weather moves over the lower Mississippi Valley.
Governors in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana all declared states of emergency for Gordon, allowing them to quickly mobilize state resources and National Guard troops to help during and after the storm.
The storm is still forecast to go above the 74 mph threshold to be a hurricane before hitting land late Tuesday or on Wednesday.
The US Coast Guard has already closed Mississippi ports in Gulfport and Pascagoula and the port in Mobile, Alabama, in anticipation of hurricane force winds within 12 hours.
President Donald Trump said in a tweet the federal government is ready to help anyone in Tropical Storm Gordon’s path.
A storm surge warning has been issued for the area stretching from Shell Beach, Louisiana, to Dauphin Island, Alabama.
The warning means there is danger of life-threatening inundation. The region could see rising waters of 3 to 5 feet.
‘The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the east of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large waves,’ the center said.
The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said workers on at least 54 oil and gas production platforms in the Gulf have been evacuated in advance of Gordon
In Louisiana, Governor Edwards said 200 National Guard troops will be deployed to southeastern Louisiana.
In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency as well, and said state resources are being mobilized.
Pat Landry, who owns the Landry House bed & breakfast on Louisiana’s Grand Isle, said late Monday night that he was trying to pick up everything low in the yard in preparation for the storm surge expected with Gordon’s arrival.
Grand Isle Mayor David Campardelle called for a voluntary evacuation of the barrier island. The mayor noted the ongoing construction on Highway 1, the lone road that connects Grand Isle to the rest of the state, and said it could cause ‘severe problems’ for people evacuating.
‘If you leave, you have to leave before the road floods,’ Landry said.
While New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell says the city has ‘the pumps and the power’ needed to protect residents, he has still advised them to prepare for the worst.
Gordon formed into a tropical storm near the Florida Keys early Monday, lashing the southern part of the state with heavy rains and high winds before moving into the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm’s predicted track had shifted slightly east as of Monday evening, meaning Louisiana is currently just outside the area under the hurricane warning.
Still, the southeastern part of the state remains under a tropical storm warning and residents need to be prepared for the storm to shift west, Edwards said.
‘This storm has every possibility to track further in out
The National Weather Service is warning residents in Gulf Coast states of the dangers of inland flooding from Tropical Storm Gordon
Miami Beach Police said via Twitter that the Labor Day holiday was ‘NOT a beach day,’ with rough surf and potential rip currents.
Red flags flew over Pensacola-area beaches in Florida’s Panhandle, where swimming and wading in the Gulf of Mexico was prohibited.
More than 4,000 Florida Power & Light customers lost power Monday due to weather conditions.
Separately, Tropical Storm Florence continues to hold steady over the eastern Atlantic. Forecasters say little change in strength is expected in coming days and no coastal watches or warnings are in effect.
Storm Gordon has seen oil prices break past $70 per barrel, after two Gulf of Mexico oil platforms were evacuated as the hurricane rolls in.
Last year, powerful hurricanes walloped Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, causing thousands of deaths, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damage, massive power outages and devastation to hundreds of thousands of structures.
At the mouth of the Mississippi River, around the area of New Orleans, the storm could generate a surge of up to 4 feet and smaller surges could hit coastland along other parts of the Gulf Coast, Graham said.
The US Coast Guard also warned that the ports of New Orleans as well as Gulfport and Pascagoula, Mississippi, may have to close within 48 hours when gale force winds from Gordon are expected to arrive.