The outer rain bands from Tropical Storm Gordon are already affecting the Florida Panhandle, bringing squalls to the coastline from Apalachicola to just west of Destin. The current forecast track has the center of the cone of uncertainty making landfall just west of Gulfport, near Bay St. Louis, right at or just before midnight tonight.
The cone itself stretches as far west as Eden Isle, Louisiana, and as far east as Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Gordon is expected to strengthen into a category 1 hurricane before making landfall.
Starting this afternoon, conditions will begin to deteriorate along the central Gulf Coast as the surf will continue to get rough and the risks of life-threatening rip currents increase.
An expected storm surge of 3-5 feet is possible on the coast of Mobile County (including Dauphin Island) and westward along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and into the northern half of Lake Borgne, Louisiana. A lesser storm surge of 2-4 feet is expected for Mobile Bay and eastward including Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and into western Florida over to Pensacola and Gulf Breeze, along with the shoreline south of Lake Borgne, Louisiana.
Winds will begin to get stronger throughout the day, with maximum sustained winds topping out at 20-40 mph starting in the late afternoon and through the late-night hours from Orange Beach to Dauphin Island, with a few gusts possibly reaching 75 mph. Winds will be stronger as you move farther west along the coast until you reach the point where the center comes ashore.
Heavy rainfall will be expected with Gordon, and Flash Flood Watches have been issued for all of Mobile, Baldwin, Escambia and Washington counties, and over into southern Mississippi and eastern Louisiana. Rainfall totals of 3-6 inches are expected, but don’t be surprised if a few localized totals reach even higher.
All of the Gulf Coast from Panama City Beach back to the west to Gulfport is under a slight risk for severe storms through the remainder of today and into the predawn Wednesday because of Gordon, while the rest of western Florida and a good chunk of south Alabama and southeastern Mississippi are defined in a marginal risk. The main threat will be from possible damaging wind gusts, but there will also be a threat of a few isolated tornadoes and waterspouts through this afternoon and well into tonight.
The hurricane will have very little effect on the forecast for central Alabama. No counties in that part of the state are under any watches or warnings at this point, and it is almost guaranteed that will remain the case throughout the remainder of the day and into Wednesday morning.
The southern part of Marengo County is included in the marginal risk area for severe weather, as there may be an isolated damaging wind gust possible along with an even smaller threat of a spin-up tornado.
As you can see by the latest visible satellite image above, clouds from Gordon have moved well into the eastern half of the state. Only a few isolated, light showers are showing up across the area at this point, and they are moving off to the northwest at a decent pace.
For more weather news and information from James Spann, Scott Martin and the rest of the James Spann team, visit AlabamaWx.