Tropical Storm Gordon is forecast to strengthen to a hurricane this evening before making landfall in Mississippi, bringing threats of flash flooding and severe thunderstorms to the region, according to the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Md.
The current track of Gordon has the storm proceeding towards Arkansas before hooking northeast through Missouri during the weekend, NWS said. Heavy rain will accompany Gordon along this track, spreading an extensive swath of 3 to 6 inches with locally higher amounts across potions of southern Mississippi, Alabama, and the western panhandle of Florida. Widespread flash flooding will be a concern here through the end of the week.
The National Hurricane Center predicts isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches of rain through late Thursday.
A northwestward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected after landfall, the NHC said, with a gradual turn toward the north-northwest and north forecast to occur on Friday. On the forecast track, the center of Gordon will make landfall along the north-central Gulf Coast within the hurricane warning area this evening or tonight, and then move inland over the lower Mississippi Valley through Wednesday.
Data from NOAA Doppler weather radars indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 70 mph with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is still possible, and Gordon could become a hurricane before landfall occurs along the north-central Gulf Coast this evening. Rapid weakening is forecast after Gordon moves inland.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center.
Severe thunderstorms will also likely be triggered over parts of the Gulf Coast in association with this system.