James Spann: Gordon to make landfall tonight; Alabama coast under hurricane warning

James Spann has the Alabama forecast and an update on Hurricane Gordon from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

EYES ON GORDON: Gordon is forecast to make landfall on the central Gulf Coast tonight as a category one hurricane. Here is the latest.

RIGHT NOW: Gordon is packing sustained winds of 65 mph, and is 230 miles east/southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It is moving west/northwest at 17 mph. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center.

The system is expected to reach hurricane strength later today, and should come onto the Mississippi coast tonight with sustained winds of near 75-80 mph.

WARNINGS: A Hurricane Warning is in effect from the mouth of the Pearl River to the Alabama-Florida Border; this includes all of the Alabama Gulf Coast. A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Shell Beach to Dauphin Island; this includes the coast of Alabama in Mobile County and Dauphin Island.

COASTAL IMPACT: Weather conditions will begin to deteriorate on the Alabama coast this afternoon as Gordon approaches:

  • A storm surge of 3-5 feet is expected on the Mobile County coast and Dauphin Island, and a surge of 2-4 feet is forecast on the Baldwin County coast, including places like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

  • Rain amounts of 3-6 inches are expected over southwest Alabama, and a flash flood watch is in effect for Mobile, Baldwin, Washington and Escambia counties.
  • Sustained winds in the 20-40 mph range are likely on the Alabama coast late this afternoon and tonight, with gusts possibly to hurricane force (75 mph).
  • A few isolated tornadoes and waterspouts are possible over southwest Alabama as Gordon approaches this afternoon and tonight. The Storm Prediction Center has a slight risk (level 2 of 5) defined for Mobile and Baldwin counties, with a marginal risk (level 1 of 5) as far north as Thomasville, Greenville and Geneva.

Weather conditions will improve greatly on the Gulf Coast tomorrow morning, and the rest of the week and the weekend will feature routine early September weather with a good deal of sun and a passing thunderstorm from time to time.

INLAND IMPACT: The heaviest rain in Alabama from Gordon will come tonight and tomorrow south of a line from Butler to Monroeville to Geneva; amounts of 1-3 inches are possible that far north. For the rest of Alabama, showers are certainly possible tomorrow, especially over the western half of the state, but amounts will be very light and spotty for the northern and eastern counties of the state. Some places will see no rain at all north and east of Birmingham.

It will be breezy tomorrow over southwest Alabama, but higher winds will be confined to Mobile and Baldwin counties.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: Scattered showers will remain possible Thursday, especially over the western side of the state, but the upper ridge rebuilds Friday, and it looks hot and mostly dry with only isolated showers. The high will be in the upper 80s Thursday and close to 90 Friday.

THE ALABAMA WEEKEND: Saturday looks hot and generally dry, with only isolated afternoon showers and a high again near 90 degrees. Then, on Sunday, scattered showers and storms should increase over the northern third of Alabama as a surface front drifts down into Tennessee. Sunday’s high will be in the upper 80s.

NEXT WEEK: The front over Tennessee will become stationary, so scattered showers and storms remain possible at least for the first half of the week with highs mostly in the mid to upper 80s.

FLORENCE: Out in the Atlantic, Florence is just below hurricane strength with sustained wind (estimated) at 70 mph. It is expected to become a hurricane this weekend as it gains latitude; both the Global Forecast System and the European global model are beginning to converge on the idea of the system recurving into the North Atlantic without getting close to North America. But, again, this is not carved in stone and we won’t know for sure for a few more days.

And another wave is in the eastern Atlantic; the National Hurricane Center gives it a 50 percent chance of development over the next five days. It’s way too early to know if this will be an issue for any land areas.

BEACH FORECAST: Click here to see the AlabamaWx Beach Forecast Center page.

WEATHER BRAINS: You can listen to our weekly 90-minute netcast any time on the web, or on iTunes. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including meteorologists at ABC 33/40. We will produce this week’s show tonight at 8:30. You can watch it live here.

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For more weather news and information from James Spann and his team, visit AlabamaWx.com.

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