Tropical Storm Gordon may turn into a hurricane on Tuesday
By BRIAN K. SULLIVAN Bloomberg
Cars goes through the flooded intersection at NE 3rd Court & NE 167th Street in Miami as Tropical Storm Gordon passes by South Florida with wind gusts and heavy rainfall for the Labor Day holiday on Monday. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS)
Tropical Storm Gordon will grow into a hurricane as it grazes offshore natural gas and oil fields, where it has already sparked evacuations, before coming ashore somewhere along the Louisiana and Mississippi coastline early Wednesday.
Gordon, with top winds of 50 miles per hour, was about 50 miles southwest of Fort Myers, Florida, according to a National Hurricane Center advisory at 5 p.m.
“Gradual strengthening is forecast during the next 36 hours, and Gordon is expected to be a hurricane when it makes landfall along the central Gulf Coast,” Senior Hurricane Specialist Stacy Stewart wrote in his forecast. “All preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion, as tropical storm conditions are expected to arrive in the warning areas Tuesday afternoon or evening.”
A hurricane warning has been posted for the Gulf Coast from eastern Louisiana to the Florida-Alabama state line. In addition, a tropical storm warning covers much of south Florida. A storm surge watch is in place along the coastline as Gordon could push water as much as 5 feet above ground depending on the tides.
Gordon, the Atlantic’s seventh storm, could graze the eastern edge of the off-shore oil and natural gas platforms. The region produces about 5 percent of U.S. natural gas and 17 percent of crude oil, according to the Energy Information Administration.
In addition, onshore facilities account for about 45 percent of U.S. refining capacity and 51 percent of its gas processing.
Crews were pulled off two platforms by the Anadarko Petroleum Corp. according to its website. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port said it is watching Gordon closely, but there currently are no disruptions.
“Any time you get a tropical cyclone in the Gulf production region there could be some disruption,” said Steve Silver, a senior meteorologist at Radiant Solutions in Gaithersburg, Md. “I do think we will see some strengthening.”
Gordon could cause about $300 million in damage, mainly due to flooding along the Gulf coast, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research in Savannah, Ga. There are already flash flood warnings out in the region due to another weather system.
The storm may gain strength as it crosses the warm waters in the Gulf, Stewart said. In addition, wind shear that has been hampering it, should fall away as it moves northwest.
In addition to wind and storm surge, Gordon could drop as much as 8 inches of rain across Louisiana and Mississippi. Its winds could peak at 75 mph.
Gordon will probably break up later in the week and its remnants could bring rain to the Great Plains, as well as the Midwest.