Emergency declared as Tropical Storm Gordon heads for Gulf Coast

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On the forecast track, the center of Gordon will move across the lower Mississippi Valley Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Gordon will likely strengthen into a hurricane before hitting the northern Gulf Coast Tuesday night, forecasters say, urging people along the coast from Louisiana to Florida to beware high winds and a unsafe storm surge. More work will be expected from Louisiana to Florida as the rain will increase the risk of flooding before receding in the coming days as the storm weakens to a tropical depression.

The possible reason for this is forecast strengthening of a ridge (area of high pressure) to the north of the storm which, with its clock wise circulation, would push the storm farther south and moving west as opposed to northwest.

"All the outside furniture has to come in, but honestly it's not even a freak-out kind of hurricane, so we're not super-stressed right now", Manager Ashley Peeples said around midday Tuesday. "Then there's a frontal boundary from our west slowly moving its way here, as well. I think cause we're on the east side of the storm, we're going to get some bad weather, but I don't think it's going to be too bad".

The city expected to feel the storm's impact through Wednesday, she said. Localized flooding is possible. A hurricane warning means that hurricane-force winds (over 74 mph) are to be expected in the area.

Gordon became a tropical storm late Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for the mouth of the Pearl River, which divides Louisiana and Mississippi.

"We are fully prepared for whatever the storm brings", agency spokesman Dan Noble said. "Sure, but it doesn't do you much good", he said of the high amounts of rainfall.

The fast-moving system did not reach the hurricane status previously forecast, however, warnings of "life-threatening" conditions remain in effect for areas expected to be hit with rapidly rising storm surges between MS and Alabama.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or significant damage, other than the child killed by a large oak tree branch that fell onto a mobile home in Pensacola, Florida. As Gordon moves away from Floridas west coast, forecasters said it will pull deep tropical moisture into the region during the afternoon, producing scattered thunderstorms that will gradually dissipate later in the evening.

Tropical storm and storm surge warnings were in effect along a long stretch of the central Gulf Coast from Morgan City, Louisiana, including Lake Pontchartrain, to the Alabama-Florida border.

MS shut down a dozen Gulf Coast casinos as the storm neared.

More than 35,000 homes and businesses in Alabama and MS were without electricity early yesterday, Poweroutage.us reported.

Gordon could drop heavy rain - generally 4 to 8 inches, but as many as 12 - from Florida's western panhandle to southern Arkansas through Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.