NEW ORLEANS • Tropical Storm Gordon weakened after making landfall just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border and lashing the Gulf Coast with high winds and heavy rain on Tuesday night, the United States National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.
Gordon is about 30km north-west of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and was packing winds of 64kmh, it said.
The storm, which was expected to weaken to a tropical depression later yesterday, will likely move across the lower Mississippi Valley through the day, the NHC added.
Flash flood warnings and watches were in effect for inland areas, while all coastal watches and warnings were discontinued at this time, the NHC said.
A child was killed on Tuesday when a tree fell on a mobile home in Pensacola, Florida, the Escambia County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter.
Governors in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama declared a state of emergency, while companies cut 9 per cent of US Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production.
Tropical-storm-force winds were lashing the Alabama and western Florida coastlines, and some areas still recovering from last year's storms could see 30cm of rain.
More than 35,000 homes and businesses in Alabama and Mississippi were without electricity early yesterday, Poweroutage.us reported.
Sea levels could rise by as much as 1.5m from Shell Beach, Louisiana, to Dauphin Island, Alabama, forecasters said. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency told South Mississippi residents to be prepared to evacuate.
At LaFrance Marina, near Ansley, Mississippi, its owner, Ms Sue Cates, said a tidal surge is sure to push water into the marina's low-lying campgrounds, making evacuation "the only choice" people have in order to protect themselves.
Nevertheless, she said she and her husband will remain in their home, which sits on tall pilings.
Built after Hurricane Katrina, the home is made to withstand a 240kmh wind, she said.
"We're way up here, and I think we'll be okay," she said. "People around here are well trained for this sort of thing."
US oil producer Anadarko Petroleum Corp evacuated workers and shut production at two offshore platforms on Monday, and other companies with production and refining operations along the Gulf Coast said they were securing facilities.
The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 per cent of US crude oil and 5 per cent of natural gas output daily, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
The US Coast Guard said the ports of New Orleans and Gulfport and Pascagoula, Mississippi, may have to close within 48 hours.
Last year, hurricanes hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, causing widespread destruction and thousands of deaths.
Gordon is seen as having little impact on offshore energy fields, according to Mr Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group in Bethesda, Maryland.
The storm's remains could be a problem for corn and soya bean farmers in the Midwest later this week, said Mr Don Keeney, Radiant Solutions' senior agricultural meteorologist. The crops need to dry out for harvesting.