Tropical Storm Gordon is expected to strengthen to a hurricane as it hits the north-central gulf coast Tuesday night. Warm ocean waters from the Gulf of Mexico will act as fuel for the tropical storm as it slowly creeps towards the lower Mississippi Valley. Current forecast tracks take the storm right through the western Florida Panhandle, southwest Alabama, southern and central Mississippi and north to southeast Louisiana.
Reports from NOAA and Air Force reconnaissance aircraft indicate maximum sustained wind speeds near 65 mph with stronger gusts. Tropical storm force winds extend 80 miles outside the center of the storm.
As Gordon makes landfall, 3 to 5 feet of storm surge is possible along the the shoreline and immediate coast. Torrential rain is expected through Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. 4 to 8 inches of rain with isolated forecast totals of 12 inches are possible through these locations by late Thursday.