After drenching South Florida for hours, Tropical Storm Gordon strengthened as it moved west across the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf Coast areas of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana braced for a hurricane. The center of the storm is expected to approach the central Gulf Coast on Tuesday evening and move inland over the Mississippi Valley on Wednesday. Forecasts put the storm on track to hit the central Gulf Coast as a hurricane when it makes landfall.
Monday’s 11 p.m. advisory placed Gordon 330 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm was gathering strength as it moved away from Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center, and maximum sustained winds had reached nearly 60 mph.
The National Hurricane Center lifted its tropical storm warning for the southwest coast of Florida at 8 p.m. A warning for South Florida and the Upper Keys was lifted at 5 p.m.
Although Gordon’s center had already reached the Gulf of Mexico by 2 p.m., the heavy rain and wind in South Florida continued into Monday afternoon. By Tuesday morning, South Florida will have seen a total of up to four inches of rainfall, according to the National Hurricane Center, with as much as eight inches in some spots.
As the rain let up in Miami-Dade in the late afternoon, Dolphin Mall bustled with families looking for an escape after being cooped up inside all day.
Julie Benitez, 23, was walking into Bloomingdale’s with her mother and sister. The family hadn’t planned to go shopping on Labor Day, but after spending all day at home watching Netflix they wanted to get some fresh air.
“We were planning a pool party-slash-barbecue, and obviously that didn’t go too well,” Benitez said. “We had to make some last-minute plan changes.”
Gordon also ruined Karla Gonzalez’s weekend. The 19-year-old had planned to go camping in the Florida Keys with her friends.
“My weekend went down,” she said as she walked toward the mall with her mother for some shoe shopping. “My friends were mad, but we just stayed at my friend’s house and played Monopoly.”
Tourists Jack Graham, 25, and Katie McRobbie, 21, didn’t get what all the fuss was about. They were visiting from Scotland and had hoped to go to the Everglades before the weather took a turn for the worst. Still, they were cheerful as they left the mall.
“It’s not really that bad compared to what we’re used to,” Graham said.