Hurricane warning issued as Tropical Storm Gordon takes aim at Gulf Coast

Is it safe to visit Florida? Weather travel update as tropical storm heads to Florida Keys

The storm was forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall on the central Gulf Coast Tuesday evening, likely between Mobile and New Orleans, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A hurricane watch is in effect for the area stretching from the mouth of the Pearl River in MS to the Alabama-Florida border.

Gordon formed into a tropical storm early Monday near the Florida Keys.

Tropical Storm Gordon spaghetti models are showing a westward track as it moves across Florida, and we're expecting winds and rain in Sebastian and Vero Beach. A storm surge watch spread west to the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, and east to Navarre, Florida.

However authorities issued a voluntary evacuation order for residents outside the levee protection system, including the Venetian Isles, Lake Saint Catherine and Irish Bayou areas.

The Times-Picayune reports that drivers around the metro New Orleans area are lining up to put sand bags in their trunks. After making landfall, it is expected to charge inland over the lower Mississippi Valley on Wednesday.

Florence was moving toward the west-northwest near 14 miles per hour and maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour with higher gusts.

A storm surge warning was in effect for the area between Shell Beach, Louisiana, and Dauphin Island, Alabama, with predicted heights of up to 3 to 5 feet if the peak surge coincides with high tide.

New Orleans director of emergency preparedness Collin Arnold says the storm has the potential to turn into a "low-level hurricane" with potential winds of up to 70 miles per hour (113 kph).

Meteorologist Danielle Niles of CBS' Boston station WBZ says the threat along the Gulf Coast means heavy rain as well as storm surge. It drenched Florida on Labor Day, forcing officials in Miami and the Florida Panhandle to close beaches due to rough surf and potential rip currents.

A slow weakening trend is expected on Tuesday.

Gordon is about 190 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and packing maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, according to the 8 a.m. advisory Tuesday from the National Hurricane Center. We got out of it barely alive."Jeff Collier, mayor of Dauphin Island, Alabama, in the Gulf, said the storm was approaching just as the island was finishing up recovery from Hurricane Nate past year."We've just about got things cleaned up", Collier told WPMI".

The main weather story across the southeast is Tropical Storm Gordon.

Weather forecasters have issued storm warnings for portions of South Florida and the Florida Keys.

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