The Miami-based center said Sunday evening that the storm system is brewing about 385 kilometers east-southeast of Marathon in the Florida Keys. Last year's hurricane season battered the southern USA states and Puerto Rico, killing thousands and causing hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of damage.
Tropical Storm Gordon may become a hurricane as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana and New Orleans, potentially causing issues for natural gas and oil production as it brushes the eastern edge of offshore energy fields.
Florence was moving toward the west-northwest near 16 miles per hour and maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour with higher gusts late Sunday evening. The National Hurricane Center does expect it to strengthen as it moves throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm is expected to cross from southwest Florida into the Gulf Coast later Monday afternoon.
The National Weather Service said the storm is likely to pass over the southern Florida Keys Monday afternoon and could create rip currents along South Florida's beaches.
Several storm systems will bring flash flooding to the eastern USA from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes.
Get out and enjoy Labor Day plans early.
For now it appears that flooding and storm surge will be the primary concerns for areas near landfall. The center issued storm surge warnings from Shell Beach, La.to the MS border with Alabama.
Heavy rains are expected over the Gulf Coast states.
Parts of the northern Gulf Coast could see 3 to 6 inches rainfall Tuesday into Wednesday, from southeast Louisiana into far southern MS and far southern Alabama, according to the Weather Channel. The warning means there is danger of life-threatening inundation.
The area from Navarre to the Alabama-Mississippi border should experience tides of 2-4 feet above normal.
However authorities issued a voluntary evacuation order for residents outside the levee protection system, including the Venetian Isles, Lake Saint Catherine and Irish Bayou areas.