A state of emergency has been declared in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi as Tropical Storm Gordon heads for America's Gulf Coast.
The storm is expected to become a hurricane, with winds of at least 74mph (119km/h) and up to 12 inches (30cm) of rain forecast by the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Gordon is predicted to hit near the Louisiana/Mississippi border late on Tuesday or early Wednesday, with the hurricane warning stretching to the Alabama-Florida border.
People living outside New Orleans' levee system have been asked to evacuate voluntarily and there are warnings of a "life-threatening" five-foot storm surge on the coast east of the city.
"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 NHC said.
It added that beaches near Mobile, Alabama, were already seeing storm-driven waves on Tuesday morning.
Tornadoes are possible on Tuesday afternoon and evening, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency warned, as well as flash flooding and storm surges in the south of the state.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp shut two offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday and other oil companies are also securing their facilities.
The storm formed near the Florida Keys on Monday, bringing stormy conditions to the south of the state.
At 4pm UK time (10am local time) on Tuesday it was 145 miles east-southeast of the Mississippi River and moving northwest at 15mph.
Despite the warnings, Gordon is not expected to become a major hurricane and is forecast to waken significantly when it makes landfall.
Should you block ads? Adblocker