Rain from Tropical storm Gordon is expected in Northwest Florida most of the day as the storm moves inland.

UPDATE: 9:00 a.m. (Wednesday)

Rain from Tropical storm Gordon is expected in Northwest Florida most of the day as the storm moves inland. One death in Pensacola is attributed to the storm. Substantial damage has not been reported in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties. Many beaches are closed to swimming today due to continued storm surge and dangerous currents.

 

 

UPDATE 8 p.m.: Officials are reporting standing water in multiple areas of U.S. Highway 98 in Gulf Breeze. Escambia County officials are asking folks to stay off the roads if possible, and warning of bridge closures if winds reach 39 miles per hour.

Portions of Gulf Breeze have received nearly 4 inches of rain in the last four hours, according to the National Weather Service.

Rainfall is expected to continue through Wednesday morning in the Panhandle.

UPDATE: 7 p.m.: The center of Tropical Storm Gordon was continuing its northwest track with landfall expected this evening or overnight, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds were near 70 miles per hour and experts said it could still become a hurricane before landfall. 

Locally, school districts are planning to resume normal operations Wednesday.

Tuesday night will be windy and wet, with rainfall and thunderstorms continuing into Wednesday afternoon. Tornadoes are possible.

UPDATE 3:45 p.m.: Tropical Storm Gordon strengthened to near-hurricane strength over the past few hours, reaching maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm will become a hurricane when winds reach 74 miles per hour.

As of 3:45 p.m., Gordon was located about 90 miles south of Mobile, Ala. Its outer bands were continuing to dump large amounts of rain on Northwest Florida.

The road connecting Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach will close at 4 p.m. due to the chance of flash flooding.

UPDATE 1:10 p.m.: The outer bands of Tropical Storm Gordon have begun inundating Northwest Florida, and rainfall and winds are expected to increase locally as the day goes on.

Gordon is still a tropical storm, with winds remaining steady at 65 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. It's expected to reach a Category 1 hurricane status by landfall tonight and then will rapidly decrease as it heads over the lower Mississippi valley tomorrow morning.

Tropical Storm-force winds extend outwards up to 80 miles from the center, the NHC said. Tornadoes are possible in the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday night. Gordon is still expected to produce between four to eight inches of rainfall in Northwest Florida.

UPDATE 10:15 a.m. Tropical Storm Gordon is honing in on the Gulf Coast and is expected to be only hours away from strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane. 

Satellite imagery shows the storm is currently hovering off the Florida Panhandle and is moving west/northwest at a speed upwards of 15 miles per hour. 

Heavy rainfall from Gordon will affect the western Florida Panhandle, southwest Alabama, southern and central Mississippi, much of eastern Louisiana and southern Arkansas, where totals could reach as high as 12 inches, according to the National Hurricane Center.

 

UPDATE 8:31 a.m.: The City of Fort Walton Beach said its solid waste and recycling service will continue as normal on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Sand and bags are available for city residents at the of FWB Maintenace Yard at 116 Hollywood Boulevard SW, by 10 a.m. Tuesday while supplies last (limit of 10 bags per resident per visit).

 

ORIGINAL STORY: As Tropical Storm Gordon barrels towards the Gulf Coast, folks in Northwest Florida could start feeling the effects of the system as early as this afternoon.

As of 8 a.m., the National Hurricane Center said Gordon’s intensity reached 65 miles per hour, heading in a northwesterly direction towards the Mississippi and Alabama coasts at a fast 17 miles per hour.

Forecasters say the storm could strengthen to a low-end Category 1 hurricane, with wind speeds over 74 miles per hour, by the time it makes landfall tonight.

National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Esbensen said the storm’s track shows it will likely make landfall on the Mississippi coast, and forecasters are reasonably confident the track won’t shift much, if at all.

In the Northwest Florida Daily News coverage area (Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton Counties), southern Santa Rosa County is expected to receive the heaviest impacts from the storm.

Coastal Santa Rosa could see wind gusts of 10 to 20 miles per hour, with some gusts up to 30 or 35 miles per hour. Areas further east, including Destin and Fort Walton Beach, could see some strong gusts as well.

Rainfall across the area is expected to be three to six inches, with possibly higher amounts locally.  

All of Okaloosa and Santa Rosa Counties are under a tropical storm warning.

Okaloosa County schools and after-school activities are closed today, and Santa Rosa County’s public schools will be dismissing students early.

We will update this story with more information as it becomes available.