A reasonably impressive eye and a central pressure of 976 mb -- normally associated with a category 2 hurricane -- yet, has only reached hurricane status in the last five minutes. Sustained winds are 75 mph. Given the warm water and low pressure, I'm still concerned there could be a quick increase in intensity to hurricane strength before the center goes inland. Regardless of whether it is quick or slow, I do expect the storm to reach hurricane intensity before the eye crosses the shore.
We now have a tornado watch. It includes New Orleans, Gulfport, Mobile and Panama City.
We are already getting reports of flooding in some coastal areas due to storm surge! When you view the surge maps below, remember this is the predicted height of the surge. Wave heights are not included and high/low tide are not included. To take an example, if a storm surge of 7' occurs during a high tide of 2' above MSL, there is a water level of 9' above MSL. Then if there are 6' waves, the water gets 13 ft. above sea level.
Here are NHC's latest surge probabilities.
Four feet above MSL.