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

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Only slight intensification is required for this system to become the first Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in 2018.

Gordon is expected to strengthen into a hurricane, with sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour, before it reaches the north central Gulf Coast late Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Louisiana's governor has declared a state of emergency in advance of the storm's arrival.

"The system could reach category one hurricane status by tomorrow".

It was centered 330 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, as the storm moves west-northwest at 17 mph.

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The Hurricane Center issued storm surge warnings from Shell Beach, the MS border with Alabama. This zone is expected to witness the most severe storm effects.

The storm left many businesses on Florida's Gulf Coast feeling shortchanged by the holiday weekend. Periods of torrential rain and strong winds should continue overnight Tuesday into early Wednesday.

Gordon lashed South Florida with heavy rains and high winds Monday. "Evacuate immediately away from coastal storm surges if instructed by local officials".

In southern Alabama, southern MS, and Louisiana, rain totals are predicted at 4 to 6 inches through Thursday, with up to 8 inches (20 centimetres) in some areas.

"Little change in strength is expected through tonight, but some weakening is forecast on Wednesday, " forecasters said.

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UPDATE 10:11 a.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a significant weather advisory for Palm Beach County as gust showers move through areas including Boca Raton. A Tropical Storm Warning is in place in Florida from Golden Beach to Bonita Beach, and for the Florida Keys from Craig Key to Ocean Reef, including Florida Bay as well as from the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida westward to east of Morgan City, Louisiana, including Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas (see Fig.2).

Seawater could spill onshore as high as 3 to 5 feet, spelling significant trouble for roads and towns along the coast.

Further east, a tropical wave has produced thunderstorms off the western coast of Africa. "Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances".

Meanwhile, no coastal watches or warnings are in effect for Tropical Storm Florence.

Gordon is still expected to remain a tropical storm, with winds topping out at 60 miles per hour in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Last year, powerful hurricanes walloped Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, causing thousands of deaths, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damage, massive power outages and devastation to hundreds of thousands of structures.