Weather

Live updates: Rain isn’t over for Mississippi Coast after Gordon knocks out power

Heavy rain is in the forecast across Jackson and Harrison counties and some 4,000 South Mississippi residents are without power as Tropical Storm Gordon moves across the region early Wednesday morning.

The heaviest rain is expected in Jackson County, where the eye of the storm crossed land about 10 p.m. Tuesday. Harrison County can expect less rain than Jackson County.

Here’s more:

12 a.m. Wednesday update:

Rain could become torrential and at times will come in bands, which may cause flash-flooding, according to the National Weather Service in New Orleans.

The chance of rain is 100 percent for the Pascagoula and Biloxi areas, with a 90-percent chance in Gulfport.

Feeder bands of rainfall are expected as Gordon moves farther inland Wednesday, the weather service said. The rain rates at times may exceed more than 2 inches per hour while falling for up to 30 to 60 minutes at a time.

About 3,000 customers of Singing River Electric were without power in Jackson, George and Greene counties around 11 p.m.

Repair crews are able to work in winds as high as 60 mph and with heavy rain and flash flooding, Singing River spokeswoman Lorri Freeman said.

Mississippi Power Co. also made advance plans with crews in place to restore power.

Power outages have been reported as far north as Meridian.

A hurricane warning remains in effect across the Mississippi Coast. While Gordon didn’t reach hurricane-force strength when it came ashore, hurricane conditions may be possible in the area, the NWS says.

A storm surge warning remains in effect from Biloxi to Dauphin Island in Alabama. The three coastal counties and Pearl River County remain under a flash-flood warning.

Those tropical-storm-force winds are extending up to 80 miles from the center of the storm.

Harrison County hasn’t seen much rain yet, but 1 to 2 inches are expected.

The storm is expected to weaken to a tropical depression by sometime Wednesday.

Most area schools are closed Wednesday, a decision made by school district officials on Labor Day.

11 p.m. update:

The eye of Tropical Storm Gordon made landfall in the Orange Grove and Pecan communities of southeast Jackson County — just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border — about 10 p.m. Tuesday. But emergency management officials say the next few hours will show what else the storm has in store for Jackson and Harrison Counties.

It’s raining and lightning in Jackson County, winds are blowing and there are scattered power outages, said Earl Etheridge, director of Jackson County Emergency Services.

“We’ve seen very little rainfall so far, but there’s still a lot of moisture in the Gulf that has to track up over the Coast,” Etheridge said.

The Trent Lott International Airport in Pascagoula clocked the wind speed at 55 mph when Gordon began to come ashore, he said.

“We do know we have scattered street flooding in the Pascagoula and trees are down across the county. We will probably have weather concerns until about 2 a.m.,” Etheridge said. But if the storm had come in to the west of us, we would have had all the heavy rain that Mobile and Pensacola had. We missed all that, but there’s still the possibility of rain.”

One of the main concerns in Harrison County now is how feeder bands affect tributaries that flow into its rivers, Emergency Manager Rupert Lacy said. He echoed Etheridge’s relief that the region is on the storm’s west side.

“Every storm has its own characteristics. Until this storm gets completely north of us, we will be cautious. We have to look at how much rainfall comes in as this storm starts to go north. It’s going to brush the northeastern parts of Harrison County, and until it clears, we will be standing guard.”

And the storm’s track farther north will bring weather problems for other areas.

The National Weather Service says the Biloxi area can expect 100 percent chance of rain overnight Tuesday with hurricane conditions and thunderstorms possible.

Current weather conditions were not available from Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.

The Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport is currently showing winds at 16 mph with 24-mph gusts.

A hurricane warning is still in effect across Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. A warning means hurricane conditions could develop in the warning area.

A storm surge warning is in effector from Biloxi to Dauphin Island in Alabama.

10 p.m. update:

The eye of the storm came ashore with sustained winds of 70 mph and was moving northwest at 14 mph.

Pascagoula was getting wind gusts as high as 61 to 62 mph at Petit Bois Island and 45 mph in some areas of the mainland as the storm crossed Dauphin Island and moved into Jackson County, Ricks said.

Heavy rain and lightning have been reported in Pascagoula and Gautier.

“The Mississippi Coast isn’t out of the woodshed yet,” said Robert Ricks, meterologist for the National Weather Service in New Orleans.

“In the next couple of hours, the storm will continue to move inland, with rain expected.”

The edge of the rain around 10 p.m. was in Pascagoula and Gautier. It’s effects will be felt for some 80 miles around the area.

The region will have bands of rain as Gordon continues to move on shore, Ricks said.

Jackson County will probably get 4 to 8 inches of rain, he said. Harrison County will pick up maybe 1 to 2 inches.

The storm came ashore after bands of rain pounded southwest Alabama and the northwestern Florida Panhandle.

The wind speed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi is currently 21 mph with gusts of 32 mph. The wind is 15 mph with gusts of 24.2 mph at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.

The storm could produce some tornadoes as it pushes through the area.

The storm was about 30 miles east-southeast of Biloxi when it came ashore and about 35 miles south-southwest of Mobile, Alabama.

There is no longer a storm surge warning west of Biloxi, the hurricane center said. But a storm surge warning remains in effect from Biloxi to Dauphin Island across the state line.

Power outages have been reported in Alabama, but only a few in Jackson County. Mississippi Power’s outage map shows about 445 residents without power about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday.

9 p.m. update

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Residents in Jackson and George Counties should prepare for tropical storm-force winds as Gordon continues a north-northwest movement.

The Weather Channel just said “a very intense band” of precipitation is going to hit Pascagoula soon.

Jim Cantore is in Pascagoula and will report live as Gordon moves into South Mississippi.

The storm was moving near 20 mph within the past hour, according to the National Weather Service. Northeast winds remain about 26 mph at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, where the temperature has dropped to 77 degrees.

Because of the storm’s rotation, Hattiesburg will start feeling stronger winds and heavier rainfall in the next 30 minutes to an hour, according to The Weather Channel. A downed tree has been reported on Interstate 59 near Hattiesburg.

Once winds reach 45 mph, most law enforcement agencies on the Mississippi Coast will pull their officers in. That includes state troopers and deputies. And it’s a just a matter of time before the wind picks up significantly.

“45 mph is our max,” Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said.

When winds reach that speed, the Emergency Operations Center will let dispatchers know.

“At that time, deputies will be off the roadways unless an emergency situation is reported,” Peterson said.

Get those flashlights ready. Officials say it’s likely some areas will lose power as the storm approaches. Power outages have already been reported around the Mobile Bay area and northwest Florida.

8 p.m. update

Be on the lookout for winds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts to 65 mph, the National Weather Service said in a 7:46 p.m. report. There’s potential later Tuesday night for winds to reach 58 to 73 mph, just below the threshold for a Category 1 hurricane, the current report says.

The temperature is dropping slightly, the wind is picking up a bit and there’s white caps in the Mississippi Sound, which is normally calm.

The wind has increased slightly from 23 mph to 26 mph at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi in the past half hour or so. The temperature also has dropped a couple of degrees, from 82 to 80, current conditions at Keesler show.

Tornadoes are possible and storm surge and flooding are likely, the NWS says.

If you live in a low-lying area, make plans now to get to a shelter before it becomes too dangerous, even though there’s a curfew throughout Harrison County, officials say. Pets are being accepted at some of the shelters.

National Guardsmen — 50 of them — have been sent to the Mississippi Coast for help as needed during the storm, for search and rescue if needed, and removal of debris that may hamper electricity and phone lines.

Power companies have reported they have assigned crews for the storm watch and aftermath. Officials report crews will work Tuesday night if needed until conditions deteriorate, and will be out at first light to assess damages and restore any power outages.

7:00 p.m. update

Rain bands from Tropical Storm Gordon have reached the Florida Panhandle and south Alabama as the storm heads toward the Mississippi Coast for landfall Tuesday night with heavy rain and tidal surges.

The storm was about 75 miles southeast of Biloxi — and about 70 miles south of Mobile — with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, according to a National Hurricane Center’s latest report. The storm was moving northwest about 14 mph and had a minimum central pressure of 999 millibars, or 29.50 inches.

About 7 p.m., NOAA Doppler weather reports and a Hurricane Hunter aircraft tracked the storm near latitude 29.7 north, longitude 87.9 west, in case you’re mapping the storm’s track at home.

It’s possible that Gordon could still become a hurricane before landfall on the north central Gulf Coast, the Hurricane Center said, but the latest advisory shows Gordon as a tropical storm at landfall.

Winds at 74 mph or higher are the starting point of a Category 1 hurricane.

Tropical-storm-force winds now extend outward up to 80 miles from the center. So regardless of where on the Coast the storm hits, residents will feel the effects for miles around.

Storm surge, with large waves, is expected to be 3 to 5 feet across the region, with the deepest water occurring along the coast and near and to the east of where Gordon comes ashore.

Some 4 of 6 inches of rain, and possibly more, are still expected across the Mississippi Coast.

A few tornadoes also are possible in the coastal areas, the hurricane center says.

A storm surge watch is in effect from the mouth of the Pearl River near Pearlington in Hancock County to the Alabama-Florida Border, and to some areas along the Florida Panhandle, the hurricane center has said.

The storm’s primary threat is tropical-storm-force winds, which can cause damages and result in debris, the National Weather Service says. The second threats are heavy rain and storm surge.

“The safety of our residents is paramount as Tropical Storm Gordon approaches,” said.

Beach-goers in Pascagoula were out to watch the waves before dark. In some cases, entire families turned out to watch the otherwise normally calm waters of the city’s beach.

Several Pascagoulans got to meet Jim Cantore, who has hunkered down there to cover Gordon’s landfall.

The Louisiana Cajun Navy and America’s Cajun Navy are in Gulfport and Biloxi, and the groups say they’re ready to assist with rescues when needed.

Gulfport police have said they plan to tow cars left unattended along the beach.

Once the winds reach 45 mph, the Mississippi Highway Patrol will call it’s state troopers in for their safety, an official said.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

Stay with SunHerald.com as the storm approaches and after it makes landfall.

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