Tropical Storm Gordon still has “a brief window of opportunity” to become a hurricane as it spends another six hours over the warm Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said in its 4 p.m. update.
Hurricane-force winds, which are above 74 mph, have been recorded inside the storm. But the maximum sustained winds have been at about 70 mph, so it remains a tropical storm.
The Hurricane Center predicts the strongest winds over Harrison and Jackson counties. Most of the winds are now expected to be 35-45 mph with gusts to 65 mph.
The new forecast models have shifted the path of the storm slightly to the east, the update said, but not enough to make any big changes in the forecast track.
Gordon is expected to move northwest toward the Mississippi coastline and make landfall at around 10 p.m., the report says.
One of the biggest impacts will be storm surge of 3 to 5 feet, which is expected to be highest along the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, the weather service says, from Pearl River to Dauphin Island. Check if your home is vulnerable to storm surge on the interactive National Storm Surge Hazard Maps.
But once the storm reaches land, it’s expected to slow down, which could lead to heavier rainfall. Up to 12 inches could fall in southern and central Mississippi and cause flash flooding, the report said, and at least 4 to 8 inches is expected.
Rivers could also flood, and the National Weather Service issued flood warnings for rivers in Harrison County.
Hancock and Jackson counties have issued voluntary evacuation orders for people in low-lying areas, trailers and mobile homes.
There is also a risk of frequent lightning, tornadoes and waterspouts, as well as microbursts, which are powerful downdrafts of air that can cause damage similar to a tornado.
The Hurricane Hunters stationed at Keesler Air Force Base are flying out of Ellington Field, Texas, to gather more precise information about the speed and track of the storm.