Schools were closing and states of emergency were being declared as the Gulf Coast braced for the heavy rains, high winds and storm surge of Tropical Storm Gordon, forecast to make landfall as a hurricane late Tuesday.

“I have declared a state of emergency in advance of Tropical Storm #Gordon, making state resources and personnel available to affected areas,” Mississippi Gov. Phil

Bryant tweeted. “Please stay weather-aware.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards also declared a state of emergency, saying hundreds of National Guard members would be deployed in coastal areas. The governors of Florida and Texas said they were monitoring developments.

The National Hurricane Center called the storm “life threatening” and warned that tornadoes were possible in Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. The hurricane warning stretched from the Pearl River that separates Mississippi and Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency began set up a number of locations for residents to pick up sandbags. In Biloxi, Miss., Mary Smith was stocking up on supplies.

“Cold drinks, bread and you know canned foods,” Smith said, listing her purchases.

More: Airlines waive change fees ahead of Tropical Storm Gordon

More: Tropical Storm Gordon threatens Gulf Coast; hurricane warning in place

Gordon is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain over the western Florida Panhandle, southwest Alabama, southern and central Mississippi, eastern Louisiana, and southern Arkansas, the National Weather Service said. Isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches could be seen through late Thursday, and flash flooding is expected for much of the region.

Gordon formed into a tropical storm near the Florida Keys early Monday, blasting South Florida with high winds and hours of heavy rains. After hitting the Gulf Coast as an expected hurricane, it is forecast to move inland over the lower Mississippi Valley on Wednesday.

The storm was centered 190 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, forecasters said Tuesday morning. Maximum sustained winds had reached at 65 mph. A Category 1 hurricane has maximum sustained winds of at least 74 mph.

The National Hurricane Center also issued a storm surge warning, meaning possible “danger of life-threatening inundation,” for late Tuesday for the area stretching from Shell Beach, Louisiana, to Dauphin Island, Alabama.

“The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the east of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large waves,” the center said.

Contributing:  Jorge L. Ortiz; WWLTV.com

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