Tropical storm Gordon weakens after killing child

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Gordon weakened into a depression on Wednesday hours after making landfall just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border and killing one person in Florida, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The storm, which caused only minor damage, was about 25 miles (40 km) south-southeast of Jackson, Mississippi and packed winds of 35 miles per hour. It will likely move across the lower Mississippi Valley through the day, bringing heavy rain and flooding, the NHC added.

An unidentified child was killed on Tuesday when a tree fell on a mobile home in Pensacola, Florida, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter.

Flash flood warnings and watches were in effect for inland areas while all coastal watches and warnings associated with Gordon were discontinued at this time, the NHC said.

Separately, the NHC on Wednesday named storm Florence, which was about 1,350 miles (2,170 km) east-southeast of Bermuda, as the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. It has winds 105 miles per hour (165 km/h) and was moving northwest at 13 miles per hour.

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The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency lifted evacuation orders and curfews for south Mississippi residents on Wednesday, said Ray Coleman, spokesman for the agency.

“We have no real damage reports, a couple of trees down, but no real major damages in the lower Mississippi Gulf Coast counties,” Coleman said.

Moderate to heavy flooding could be seen on roadways on Dauphin Island, Alabama and in Jackson, Mississippi, along with a few toppled trees, according to video reports by WKRG and WRAL news stations.

The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had declared this week a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm while companies cut 9 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production.

U.S. oil producer Anadarko Petroleum Corp (APC.N) evacuated workers and shut production at two offshore platforms on Monday, and other companies with production and refining operations along the Gulf Coast said they were securing facilities.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 percent of U.S. crude oil and 5 percent of natural gas output daily, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Last year, hurricanes hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, causing widespread destruction and thousands of deaths.

Reporting by Kathy Finn, Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by David Stamp and Steve Orlofsky

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