(Newser) – Families filled sandbags, took patio furniture inside and stocked up on batteries and bottled water as the Gulf Coast prepared Tuesday for Tropical Storm Gordon, which could strengthen and become the second hurricane to hit the region in less than a year, the AP reports. Just hours before the storm was expected to come ashore, a few people remained on the beach, soaking in the sun before the tropical rain bands became more numerous. Others did their familiar pre-storm preparation rituals, including the staff at The Hotel Whiskey in Pass Christian, Mississippi, only about a block from the Gulf of Mexico. The hotel restaurant planned to stay open Tuesday evening as usual, fortified by sandbags to keep out torrential rains, the manager said.
A hurricane warning was in effect for the entire Mississippi and Alabama coasts with the possibility Gordon would become a Category 1 storm. The National Hurricane Center predicted a “life-threatening” storm surge of 3 to 5 feet along parts of the central Gulf Coast. Flooding also was a risk. As much as 8 inches of rain could fall in some parts of the Gulf states through late Thursday as the tropical weather moves inland toward Arkansas. By Tuesday afternoon, the storm was centered 95 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi, with top sustained winds of 70mph. Forecasters said it was possible Gordon’s winds might meet the 74mph threshold to be a hurricane before making landfall later Tuesday. The last hurricane to strike the US was Nate last October, coming ashore in Biloxi with 75 mph winds.
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