Tropical Storm Gordon lashing Panhandle, expected to become hurricane before landfall


The child died when a tree fell on top of a mobile home in Pensacola as Gordon whipped the region with tropical storm-force winds and heavy downpours, a spokeswoman with the Escambia County Sheriff's Office said.

One, located a couple of hundred miles south-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, has a 90 percent chance of becoming a tropical system by the weekend or early next week as it moves west-northwest across the Atlantic. The National Weather Service in Mobile cautioned that the Styx River near Elsanor, Alabama, could reach moderate, and possibly major, flood stage later Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Gordon continues to strengthen as it moves away from the Tampa Bay area but toward the northern Gulf Coast, forecast to become a hurricane before its projected landfall Tuesday night.

As of early Wednesday, Gordon was about 20 miles northwest of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, with sustained winds of 40 mph. It wasn't almost as bad as when Nate, the last hurricane to strike the US, came ashore last October in nearby Biloxi, Mississippi.

The storm's strong winds have knocked out power in the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama, leaving at least 30,000 people in the dark, several utility companies said.

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Coastal areas from the Florida Panhandle to Louisiana could experience 4-8 inches of rain, with isolated totals of 12 inches through late Thursday that could cause unsafe flash flooding and "life-threatening" storm surge, according to the hurricane center.

A storm surge covered barrier islands as the storm blew through, and some inland roadways were flooded as well. Crews were already restoring electricity early Wednesday in the wake of the storm. He was still without electricity as he left for his 12-hour shift.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Monday and said 200 National Guard troops will be deployed to southeastern Louisiana. Communities along the coast provided sand and bags, and many hustled to protect their properties ahead of the storm.

Gordon was not the only storm being watched by forecasters.

It's still too early to tell whether the storm will make landfall or stay out at sea.