Officials aren't taking any chances as Tropical Storm Gordon bears down on the Gulf Coast, with about 1.7 million people under a hurricane warning and another 6.5 million under a tropical storm watch.
The National Hurricane Center says it expects Gordon to strengthen into a hurricane before it reaches the north-central Gulf Coast late Tuesday.
"Gordon is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions to portions of the central Gulf Coast where a Storm Surge Warning and Hurricane Warning are in effect," NHC says.
"All preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion, as tropical storm conditions are expected to arrive in the warning areas Tuesday afternoon."
A number of schools across Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi are not opening Tuesday. Others announced they would close early ahead of the storm's arrival.
As of 2 a.m. Tuesday, Gordon was about 280 miles east-southeast of the mouth of Mississippi River.
The NHC's hurricane warning covers all of coastal Mississippi and Alabama, with a tropical storm warning reaching to Morgan City, Alabama, and Florida's Okaloosa-Walton County Line.