Hurricane Watches for Central Gulf Coast as TS Gordon Intensifies


Tropical Storm Gordon formed on Monday morning in the waters of the Upper Florida Keys, and it will be making a fast trek toward the upper Gulf Coast by late Tuesday. As of 11 am EDT Monday, Gordon was centered just southwest of the Everglades, about 50 miles south-southeast of Marco Island, with top sustained winds of 45 mph. A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the Mississippi and Alabama coastline, and Tropical Storm Warnings were up for the Keys from Craig Key to Ocean Reef and for the far southwest and far southeast coast of Florida, from Bonita Beach to Golden Beach, as well as for the upper Gulf Coast from Morgan City, LA, to the Okaloosa-Walton County Line of the far western Florida Panhandle. A Storm Surge Warning was in effect from Shell Beach, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border, with a Storm Surge Watch eastward to Navarre, Florida, and westward to the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Gordon’s formation date of September 3 comes nearly two weeks before the average September 16 date for development of the season’s seventh named storm. This year’s tally of 7 named storms, 2 hurricanes, and 0 intense hurricanes in the Atlantic is thus above average for the number of named storms for this point of the season, which reaches its halfway point around September 10 – 11. However, according to Colorado State University, the Atlantic season has produced only about 53% of the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) one would expect at this point in the year. This is because the year's named storms have not been especially strong or prolonged.

Gordon benefited on Sunday night from the very warm waters between Florida and Cuba, as well as the usual nighttime maximum in showers and thunderstorms (convection) over developing tropical cyclones. Land interaction with the swamps of South Florida might have actually helped rather than hindered Gordon’s development, as the slight frictional effect may have helped focus the embryonic surface circulation.

Gordon appeared increasingly organized on radar on satellite Monday morning, and Hurricane Hunters that were still investigating the system late Monday morning found flight-level winds of 43 knots (49 mph). The Surface Frequency Microwave Radiometer aboard the flight found top near-surface winds of 36 knots (41 mph) just before 11 am EDT. Overall, the reconnaissance data supports 45-mph surface winds and a central pressure of 1009 mb, as noted in the 11 am EDT advisory from NHC. Gordon’s winds were strongest on the north side of its small circulation. Easterly winds gusted to 43 mph at Fort Lauderdale International Airport at 10 am EDT, but Key West reported east winds of just 3 mph at the same time.

September 03, 2018