Tropical storm Gordon makes landfall near Alabama-Mississippi border

 A vehicle drives along a flooded street caused by the approaching Tropical Storm Gordon in Dauphin Island, Alabama, on Sept 4, 2018.
A vehicle drives along a flooded street caused by the approaching Tropical Storm Gordon in Dauphin Island, Alabama, on Sept 4, 2018.PHOTO: AFP
Vehicles pass over a US route 90 bridge as Tropical Storm Gordon continues to produce sporadic rain and wind in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on Sept 4, 2018.
Vehicles pass over a US route 90 bridge as Tropical Storm Gordon continues to produce sporadic rain and wind in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on Sept 4, 2018.PHOTO: AFP
A satellite image obtained from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Gordon moving towards the US Gulf Coast, on Sept 4, 2018.
A satellite image obtained from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Gordon moving towards the US Gulf Coast, on Sept 4, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

NEW ORLEANS (REUTERS) - Tropical storm Gordon made landfall on Tuesday (Sept 4) just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border, lashing the US Gulf Coast with high winds and heavy rain, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

Gordon was about 55km south-southwest of Mobile, Alabama, and was packing maximum sustained winds of 110kmh after making landfall, the Miami-based weather forecaster said.

"Rapid weakening is forecast after Gordon moves inland, and is forecast to become a tropical depression on Wednesday," the NHC added.

As of Tuesday night, the storm had not reached 119kmh winds, the minimum to become a hurricane.

Hurricane and storm surge warnings and watches were in effect across the region, the NHC said.

Though the Louisiana coast remained calm as of early Tuesday evening, Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and companies cut 9 per cent of US Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production.

"I'm asking all residents to do their part in getting ready for this storm," New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement. "The city's absolute No. 1 priority is to ensure the safety of our residents."

Tropical-storm force winds were already lashing the Alabama and western Florida panhandle coastlines and some areas still recovering from last year's storms could see 30cm of rain.

Beaches around Mobile, Alabama, were washed by storm-driven waves, said Mr Stephen Miller, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

"We're expecting an increase in winds," Mr Miller said in a telephone interview. "We could see flooding."

Sea levels could rise as much as 1.5m from Shell Beach, Louisiana, to Dauphin Island, Alabama, forecasters said.



Boats ride out the incoming waves and rain from Tropical Storm Gordon in Dauphin Island, Alabama, on Sept 4, 2018. PHOTO: AFP 

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency told South Mississippi residents to be prepared to evacuate.

EVACUATIONS

At LaFrance Marina near Ansley, Mississippi, a mile north of Heron Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, marina owner Sue Cates said that a tidal surge is sure to push water into the marina's low-lying campgrounds, making evacuation "the only choice" people have to protect themselves.

Nevertheless, she said she and her husband will remain in their home, which sits on tall pilings, 7m above ground. 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 OK," Ms Cates 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 oil 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.

The Inn at Ocean Springs and the Roost Hotel in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, had guests planning to ride out the storm, said Ms Kristin Smith, general manager of both hotels.

"A lot of guests are real comfortable sticking it out in our rooms," Ms Smith said in a telephone interview. "Any of our guests who feel like they want to go home we encourage them to follow their instincts."