By Kathy Finn
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Tropical Depression Gordon was expected on Thursday to dump more heavy rains that could cause flooding in central U.S. states as Hurricane Florence, a monster Category 3 storm, churned toward Bermuda, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Downpours have flooded streets in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi as the storm headed north and threatened to bring heavy rains to the Mississippi Valley and the Midwest over the next few days, the NHC said.
Some areas could get up to 5 inches (13 cm) of rain on Thursday and cause flash flooding, the center said.
The storm, which made landfall late on Tuesday, has caused minimal property damage so far, the NHC said, but a 2-year-old girl died when a tree fell on a mobile home in Pensacola, Florida, authorities said.
As of Wednesday night, more than 2,000 homes and businesses remained without power as utility companies restored service for tens of thousands of customers across the region.
Energy companies and port operators along the Gulf Coast took steps to resume normal operations after Gordon shut 9 percent of the region’s oil and natural gas production.
Oil prices fell about 1 percent on Wednesday, after fears about the storm eased.
TRACKING TOWARD BERMUDA
In the Atlantic Ocean, Hurricane Florence, a Category 3 storm on a five-step scale, barreled toward Bermuda on Wednesday, packing maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph).
The first major hurricane of the Atlantic season will affect Bermuda’s surf by Friday, but it was too early to say whether it would hit land.
“Swells from Florence could also reach the U.S. East Coast by early next week,” the NHC said.
Florence was 1,235 miles (1,990 km) east-southeast of Bermuda on Wednesday night.
Some weakening is forecast during the next couple of days, “but Florence is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through early next week,” the NHC said.
(Reporting by Kathy Finn; Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Darren Schuettler)