Much of the central Gulf Coast was under a hurricane warning late Monday as Tropical Storm Gordon, which is expected to strengthen, continued its march from the Florida Keys.
The warning covers all of coastal Mississippi and Alabama, the National Hurricane Center said.
Gordon could be a Category 1 hurricane before it makes landfall as early as Tuesday night. About 2 million people are under a hurricane watch or warning.
Gordon is expected to produce rain accumulations of 4 to 6 inches over southern Alabama, southern and central Mississippi, and southeastern and northeastern Louisiana, with isolated maximum amounts of 8 inches through late Thursday, according to the hurricane center.
By evening, the storm was headed west-northwest at 17 mph into the Gulf of Mexico and had maximum winds of 60 mph.
Gordon lashed south Florida with rain and tropical storm-force winds.
Geo Rodriguez decided to go for a walk on Hollywood Beach, north of Miami, on Monday morning and got caught in the storm. He captured video of people who were out and about, including a soaking-wet delivery person. Rodriguez said he is not concerned about the storm damaging his home
A storm surge watch was in effect from the Mississippi-Alabama border westward to the mouth of the Mississippi River.
“Gordon will bring heavy rainfall and tropical storm conditions to portions of South Florida and the Florida Keys today and a tropical storm warning is in effect for these areas,” the hurricane center said Monday.
Across the region, governments made their preparations. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, activating members of the National Guard.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a voluntary evacuation notice for areas outside of the New Orleans levee system ahead of Tropical Storm Gordon. Cantrell said the city expects to see impact of the storm beginning late Tuesday and continuing through Wednesday. City Hall and government offices will close Tuesday for nonessential employees.
In anticipation of heavy rains, the Flood Protection Authority-East (FPA) has closed 21 floodgates on the Lake Borgne Surge Barrier near New Orleans, according to a press release.
These gates are all in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, primarily along the Industrial Canal and susceptible to high-tide conditions if not closed, the city says.
At this time, the FPA does not anticipate that the three pump stations at Lake Pontchartrain will be activated, but it is prepared to do so if the forecast changes and water levels reach key thresholds, according to the press release.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted that Floridians and visitors should monitor the weather system and remain vigilant.
“Right now, according to @NHC_Atlantic, the biggest impact to our state will be heavy rain, but in Florida, we know how quickly weather can change,” he said.
“With the peak of hurricane season upon us, now is the time to get prepared. Make sure that you and your family have a plan in place in case of disaster.”
CNN’s Dave Hennen, Haley Brink, Taylor Ward, Keith Allen and David Williams contributed to this report.