Hurricane Sally is moving very slowly toward the northern Gulf Coast, where it will bring potentially historic flooding rainfall, a dangerous storm surge and damaging winds through Wednesday. Sally will also pose a threat of flooding rainfall farther inland across parts of the Southeast.
Flooding, power outages and bridge closures have already spread throughout coastal Alabama and northwestern Florida and dangerous conditions will persist through Wednesday there.
(LATEST: Power Outages and Flooding Spread as Sally Batters Gulf Coast)
A hurricane warning has been issued from east of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida, including Biloxi, Mobile and Pensacola. Hurricane conditions (winds 74 mph or greater) are expected in some parts of this area into Wednesday.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect to west and east of this hurricane warning, including portions of southeast Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle.
A storm surge warning is also in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana to the mouth of the Pearl River, as well as from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Walton/Bay County line in Florida, including Mobile Bay. This means there will be a danger of life-threatening inundation from storm surge within the warning area in the next 36 hours.
Sally is centered south-southeast of Mobile, Alabama. Some additional strengthening of Sally is possible before landfall.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles from the center of the storm.
Bands of heavy rain and strong winds are affecting the northern Gulf Coast right now, particularly in parts of the Florida Panhandle, southern Alabama and southeast Mississippi.
On Tuesday night, a wind gust to 82 mph was measured at Fort Morgan, Alabama, while a gust up to 70 mph was clocked on Dauphin Island, Alabama. Winds have gusted up to 66 mph in downtown Mobile, Alabama.
Moderate coastal flooding from Sally’s storm surge occurred Tuesday at various tidal gauges from southeast Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle. Orange Beach, Alabama, experienced an estimated one-foot depth of storm surge Tuesday evening.
The coastal flooding inundated some low-lying areas near the coast.
Flash flooding with flooded roads has been reported in numerous spots in Walton County in the Florida Panhandle Tuesday evening.
Pensacola, Florida, has already measured 12.71 inches of rainfall, as of 8:15 p.m. CDT Tuesday.
A tornado watch is in effect for coastal Alabama and the western and central Florida Panhandle until 6 a.m. CDT Wednesday.
Track, Intensity Forecast
Sally is crawling north-northeastward motion and a slightly faster forward speed to the northeast is expected by Wednesday night. The track of Sally has also shifted more eastward and landfall is now most likely to occur sometime on Wednesday near Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.
Some additional strengthening is possible before landfall.
Regardless of further intensification, its slow forward speed will result in prolonged impacts from flooding rainfall, storm surge and strong winds.
Here’s a look at what to expect.
Storm Surge, High Surf
A potentially life-threatening storm surge is expected along the northern Gulf Coast through Wednesday. This could be exacerbated by heavy rainfall occurring in areas experiencing storm surge.
Below is a look at the locations with the highest storm surge forecast for the Gulf Coast if peak surge occurs at the time of high tide, according to the National Hurricane Center. The next high tide in most of the area below is late Wednesday morning or early Wednesday afternoon.
-4 to 6 feet from Dauphin Island, Alabama, to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida, including Pensacola Bay and Choctawhatchee Bay.
-3 to 5 in Mobile Bay.
The peak storm surge will be near and to the right of where the center of Sally makes landfall on Wednesday. Large waves could worsen the storm surge impacts in some areas and cause significant beach erosion on much of the northern Gulf Coast.
Sally is expected to move slowly as it approaches the Gulf Coast, which means there is a serious threat of life-threatening flooding rainfall.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says historic flooding is possible from Sally near and just inland from the northern Gulf Coast.
Sally’s highest rainfall totals, locally up to 30 inches, are expected from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Florida Panhandle. NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center has issued a rare high risk of excessive rainfall for this area into early Wednesday.
Here is the latest rainfall forecast from the NHC.
-10 to 20 inches with locally up to 30 inches on the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to the Alabama/Mississippi border through Wednesday. Serious flash flooding and moderate to major river flooding could occur in these areas. Nearly a dozen river gauges in this region are forecast to reach major flood stage, according to NOAA.
-4 to 8 inches, with locally up to 12 inches, is possible farther inland across southeastern Mississippi, southern and central Alabama, northern and central Georgia and the western Carolinas. Significant flash and urban flooding is likely, as well as widespread minor to moderate flooding on some rivers in these areas.
Heavy rainfall and flooding concerns will extend well inland into the South through Friday.
NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center has issued a moderate risk of excessive rainfall from much of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle into northern Georgia and parts of the western Carolinas Wednesday into Thursday.
Flood watches have been issued by the National Weather Service in portions of the eastern Mississippi, Alabama, Florida Panhandle, Georgia, far southeastern Tennessee and far western North Carolina.
Strong, damaging winds will impact the Gulf Coast near where Sally moves inland, particularly in the hurricane warning area from coastal Mississippi to coastal Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.
Hurricane conditions are expected Tuesday night in the hurricane warning areas. Tropical storm conditions are anticipated to last through Wednesday night in warning areas.
The winds could contribute to some structural damage, downed trees and power outages.
Here is the latest wind gust forecast. Changes to this forecast are likely depending on the exact future track and intensity of Sally.
There will be an increasing chance of isolated tornadoes from Sally into Tuesday night, from southeast Mississippi to southern Alabama and portions of the Florida Panhandle.
The isolated tornado threat will continue on Wednesday in parts of southern Alabama, northern Florida and southern Georgia.
Sally Recap So Far
Tropical Depression Nineteen formed Friday afternoon and made landfall in South Florida by early Saturday morning.
The tropical depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Sally once it moved over the southeast Gulf of Mexico on Saturday afternoon.
Flooding rainfall soaked parts of the Florida Keys on Saturday. Some areas in the Keys picked up nearly a foot of rainfall.
Sally brought rainfall to western parts of Florida on Sunday as it moved northward over the eastern Gulf of Mexico
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