Tropical Depression Gordon was expected on Thursday to dump more heavy rains that could cause flooding in central U.S. states as Hurricane Florence, a monster Category 3 storm, churned toward Bermuda, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Meanwhile, Florence has strengthened into the third hurricane but continues to linger far out in the Atlantic, with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour as it slowly moves west-northwest and not affecting land. This rainfall will cause flash flooding across portions of these areas.
After marching up from the Florida Keys and lashing South Florida on Monday with rain, Gordon was centered Tuesday evening over the Gulf of Mexico, about 75 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.
The National Weather Service issued several tornado warnings in south Alabama and the Florida panhandle after radar indicated possible twisters associated with the storm. Most areas will see somewhere between 4 to 8 inches of rainfall.
At least one person has died so far as a result of the storm - a child in Florida who was killed by a falling tree in Pensacola.
In anticipation of heavy rains, the Flood Protection Authority-East, or FPA, closed 38 floodgates, 13 valve gates and a concrete barge gate on the Lake Borgne Surge Barrier near New Orleans, according to a news release.
Gordon is the first tropical storm or hurricane to reach the United States Coast. Crews were already restoring electricity early Wednesday.
"The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the east of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large waves", the NHC said.
"I just hope I don't have to throw out everything in my refrigerator when I get home", said Jerome Richardson, spending the morning at a Mobile Waffle House after losing power the night before at his home.
Driftwood and other debris on the causeway made for hazardous driving early Wednesday to nearby Dauphin Island, where streets were submerged in seawater overnight.
"This is the price you pay to look at this handsome water and enjoy the coast", Pascagoula resident Richard Whitlock said as he raked leaves and branches from his yard overlooking the Gulf. "Sometimes it starts pushing not only water across but debris, logs and things of that nature, which makes it very treacherous to get across", he had said. New Orleans-area ports were operating under an advisory that called for gale-force winds within 24 hours.
The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had declared this week a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm while companies cut 9 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production.
Most of the rain will be hit and miss, forecasters say.