TROPICS: Tropical Storm Gordon made landfall; Florence is Cat. 2 hurricane

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Gordon will bring strong winds as well as sporadic tornadoes to the Alabama and Florida coasts as well as heavy rainfall with the potential for flash flooding across the western Florida Panhandle, southwest Alabama, southern and central MS, northeastern Louisiana and southern Arkansas.

The storm reached land about 10 p.m. and brought heavy rains and strong winds.

Right now, the tropical storm's outer rain bands are creating "squally weather" on the western Florida Panhandle, the NHC said. Sustained winds were at 70 miles per hour (113 kph), just below hurricane-force. That being said, Florence will continue to move west-northwest and could get out of this area and into more favourable conditions.

Hurricane Nate was the last hurricane to strike the us, making landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi, last October. A hurricane watch is in effect for the area from the Mississippi-Louisiana border to the Alabama-Florida border.

The storm was going out swinging: Forecasters said radar spotted possible tornadoes spun off by the storm overnight in southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle, and more were possible through Wednesday night in MS and western Alabama.

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Oil and gas companies in the Gulf of Mexico also evacuated more than 50 platforms as the storm swept in, temporarily halting production.

Sea levels could rise as much as 5 feet (1.5 m) USfrom Shell Beach, Louisiana, to Dauphin Island, Alabama, forecasters said.

A storm surge covered barrier islands as the storm blew through, and some inland roadways were flooded as well.

The number of outages has been rising rapidly after dark Tuesday night as tropical storm Gordon's wind and rain began to take a toll on the Gulf Coast's power grid.

"This storm has every possibility to track further in our direction", Edwards said during a news conference Monday evening.

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The National Weather Service in New Orleans gave tips to city residents how to prepare for the arrival of the storm.

In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a voluntary evacuation notice for areas outside the levee system.

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 previous year.

Hurricane season in the United States started on June 1 and will last until November 30.

"It's the peak of hurricane season", Hurricane Center director Ken Graham told The Associated Press.

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