Tropical Storm Gordon is on its way into the Gulf of Mexico, and CNN reports that it could reach hurricane status by the time it makes landfall.
Gordon formed in the Florida Keys early on Monday morning, and it has already battered southern Florida. Experts expect it to pick up speed over the next 48 hours as it heads into the Gulf. The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch through Tuesday night, particularly in coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Gordon grew in size and achieved tropical-storm-force winds remarkably fast. It took local residents by surprise, and likely threw a wrench into lots of Labor Day plans. According to a report by CNN, 13 million people are under a tropical storm warning as of Monday afternoon, and almost 2 million people are under hurricane watches and storm surge warnings.
Most models predict landfall at around 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday. The storm could come crashing into New Orleans with winds as high as 70 miles per hour. Even 24 hours later, experts fear that it will be heading inland with winds as fast as 45 miles per hour.
Right now, the storm is moving steadily northwest at a speed of about 16 miles per hour. Local residents have shown the frightening conditions in social media posts, where signs and awnings are being whipped around in the chaos. Tides appear to be rising dangerously close to the edge of some beaches as well.
On Twitter, users posted well wishes and prayers for those in the storm's path. Many replies to various National Weather Service accounts or other outlets with their pleas that the storm veer spontaneously away, as the Gulf coast is still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Of course, people were even more concerned for New Orleans, as the city suffered so much damage after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
A Tropical Storm Gordon Twitter account even cropped up on Monday, personifying the terror so many people felt.
"Is it possible that we can bribe you to veer more towards Texas?" one person joked.
"They pretend to know where I'm going, but I'm just along for the ride," the account answered.
They pretend they know where I'm going, but I'm just along for the ride— TSGordon (@TropCloneSev) September 3, 2018
While there was little talk of evacuating online, there were a lot of tips for preparing. Those in the storm's path were advised to stock up on water and non-perishable supplies, and ensure that flashlights and other devices had fresh batteries.
This is just the beginning of the United States' typical hurricane season.