Tropical Storm Gordon Nears Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm Gordon moved closer to the Gulf Coast of the U.S. on Tuesday morning.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Tropical Storm Gordon was located at latitude 28.5°N and longitude 86.8°W which put it about 145 miles (235 km) east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.  Gordon was moving toward the northwest at 15 m.p.h. (24 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1001 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from the mouth of the Pearl River to the Alabama-Florida border.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the portions of the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the mouth of the Pearl River including Lake Pontchartrain and from the Alabama-Florida border to the Okaloosa-Walton County line in Florida.

The circulation of Tropical Storm Gordon appeared to be getting more organized on Tuesday morning.  More thunderstorms developed near the center of circulation.  Storms near the center were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the east of the tropical storm.  Several bands of showers and thunderstorms north and east of the center were moving toward the Gulf Coast.  The bands southwest of the center consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 80 miles (130 km) from the center of circulation, but the winds were weaker in the southwestern quadrant of Tropical Storm Gordon.

Tropical Storm Gordon could strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall.  Gordon will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  An upper level trough over the southeastern U.S. was producing southwesterly winds which were blowing toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds were causing some vertical shear, but they will not be strong enough to prevent intensification.  The surface pressure decreased slightly on Tuesday morning.  Increased friction near the coast could cause the circulation to tighten around the center, when Tropical Storm Gordon gets closer to the Gulf Coast.

Tropical Storm Gordon will move around the southwestern end of a subtropical high pressure system over the western Atlantic Ocean.  The high will steer Gordon in a general northwesterly direction during the next several days.  On its anticipated track the center of Hurricane Gordon is likely to make landfall on the northern Gulf Coast on Tuesday night.  Gordon will produce winds to near hurricane force at the coast.  It could cause a storm surge of 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.5 meters) east of the center where the wind blows water toward the coast.  The highest storm surge will occur in bays and the mouths of streams and rivers where the shape of the coast funnels water into those areas.  Tropical Storm Gordon will also drop heavy rain over portions of northwest Florida, southwest Alabama, Mississippi and eastern Louisiana.  Locally heavy rain could create the potential for flash floods.

Elsewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, former Tropical Storm Florence strengthened into the third Atlantic hurricane of 2018.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Hurricane Florence was located at latitude 19.7°N and longitude 42.5°W which put it about 1270 miles (2045 km) east-northeast of the Lesser Antilles.  Florence was moving toward the west-northwest at 12 m.p.h. (19 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 990 mb.