Hurricane Sally: Gulf Coast braces for ‘historic’ floods as storm churns north

Tropical Storm Sally strengthened into a hurricane on Monday afternoon as one of the most active hurricane seasons on record continued with still nearly three months remaining.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 6:27 p.m. EDT Sept. 15: As Hurricane Sally continued trudging toward the Gulf Coast, social media reports of flooding, damage and last-minute preparations abounded. According to the National Weather Service, landfall is now expected near or just east of Mobile Bay in Alabama, most likely in the early-morning hours Wednesday.

Update 5:20 p.m. EDT Sept. 15: Hurricane Sally continued lumbering toward the north-central Gulf Coast on Tuesday afternoon with maximum sustained winds holding steady at around 80 mph.

The strong Category 1 storm is currently located about 85 miles south of Mobile, Alabama, and about 90 miles southwest of Pensacola, Florida, moving north at 2 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Per the NHC’s latest forecast track, Sally’s center will approach the northern Gulf Coast Tuesday night, making landfall in the hurricane warning area early Wednesday.

The current hurricane warning extends from east of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, to Navarre, Florida, while a tropical storm warning remains in effect from east of Navarre to Indian Pass, Florida, and from Bay St. Louis westward to Grade Isle, Louisiana.

According to the NHC, rainfall remains the largest threat from the slow-moving storm and “historic life-threatening flash-flooding is also expected.” Sally is forecast to dump between 10 and 20 inches of rain across impacted areas, with isolated totals of 30 inches possible along and just inland of the central Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle west of the Apalachicola River to far southeastern Mississippi.

A slow northward motion is expected to continue Tuesday night, followed by a slow north-northwestward to northeastward shift on Wednesday and Wednesday night as Sally moves inland across southeastern Alabama on Wednesday night and Thursday.

Hurricane-force winds currently extend outward up to 40 miles from Sally’s eye, and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.

Update 1:55 p.m. EDT Sept. 15: Hurricane Sally weakened slightly but remained a Category 1 storm as it continued to inch toward the northern Gulf Coast on Tuesday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center.

As of about 2 p.m., meteorologists said Sally had maximum sustained winds around 80 mph, slightly down from the speed noted earlier in the day.

The center of the storm is expected to pass near the coast of southeastern Louisiana Tuesday before making landfall along the Gulf Coast sometime late tonight or Wednesday, NHC forecasters said.

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT Sept. 15: Forecasters expect the Alabama coast to be inundated with the highest of life-threatening storm surges expected as Hurricane Sally approaches land, according to officials with the National Hurricane Center.

Sally, a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds around 85 mph, was crowning toward the northern Gulf Coast as of Tuesday morning, officials said. It was about 110 miles south Mobile, Alabama, at 11 a.m.

Update 8:05 a.m. EDT Sept. 15: Hurricane Sally is likely to bring “extreme life-threatening flash flooding” to parts of the northern Gulf Coast through Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is moving at 2 mph to the northwest. As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, officials said Sally was about 65 miles east of the mouth of Mississippi River and 105 miles south-southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi.

Hurricane Sally is expected to stay a Category 1 storm until it makes landfall sometime Wednesday morning.

Update 5:08 a.m. EDT Sept. 15: Hurricane Sally could bring historic flooding to parts of the northern Gulf Coast through Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said early Tuesday.

In its 5 a.m. EDT advisory, the agency said the storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, was about 60 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 115 miles south-southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi. It was moving west-northwest at 2 mph.

Read more here.

Update 2 a.m. EDT Sept. 15: Hurricane Sally weakened slightly while jogging westward and is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds and flash flooding to parts of the northern Gulf Coast later today, the National Hurricane Center said early Tuesday.

In its 2 a.m. EDT advisory, the agency said the Category 1 storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, was about 75 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 115 miles south-southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi. It was moving west at 3 mph.

Read more here.

Update 11:25 p.m. EDT Sept. 14: Hurricane Sally’s forward speed has slowed to only 3 mph as the Category 2 storm continues moving west-northwest across the northern Gulf Coast.

According to the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. EDT advisory, Sally’s maximum sustained winds are holding steady at 100 mph, and the storm was located about 90 miles east of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 130 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi.

Outer rain bands have already begun moving onshore in the Florida panhandle.

A northward turn is expected Tuesday afternoon, followed by a slow north-northeastward to northeastward through Wednesday night.

Per the current forecast track, Sally’s eye will make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday in the hurricane warning area that stretches from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Navarre, Florida.

Hurricane-force winds currently extend outward up to 45 miles from the storm’s center, while tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.

Update 5:19 p.m. EDT Sept. 14: Hurricane Sally continued strengthening Monday evening with maximum sustained winds increasing to 100 mph, making it a Category 2 storm.

Additional strengthening is expected overnight, bringing with it the threat of life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds and flash flooding across portions of the northern Gulf Coast Monday night and Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. EDT advisory, Sally is currently located about 105 miles east of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 145 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi. The storm continues to move west-northwest at 6 mph with a shift to the north expected Tuesday. A slow north-northwestward to northeastward motion is then forecast Tuesday night through Wednesday night.

The storm surge warning has been extended eastward along the coast of the Florida panhandle to the Okaloosa-Walton County line. The hurricane warning has been extended eastward along the coast of the Florida panhandle to Navarre, and the tropical storm warning west of Morgan City, Louisiana, has been canceled.

Per the current forecast track, the center of Sally will move near the coast of southeastern Louisiana overnight and make landfall in the hurricane warning area late Tuesday or Wednesday.

Hurricane-force winds currently extend outward up to 25 miles from the storm’s eye, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.

Update 5:02 p.m. EDT Sept. 14: U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an emergency declaration for Louisiana and Mississippi in advance of Hurricane Sally, now a Category 2 storm.

The designation authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts and provide federal assistance.

Update 4:55 p.m. EDT Sept. 14: Hurricane Sally has been upgraded to a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph.

The storm continues to move west-northwest at 6 mph with a turn to the northwest expected later tonight.

Update 2:05 p.m. EDT Sept. 14: Hurricane Sally strengthened slightly but remained a Category 1 storm on Monday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, according to the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center.

The center of the storm was about 125 miles east-southeast of the mouth of Mississippi River and about 160 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi, around 2 p.m. Monday.

Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 14: Hurricane Sally is expected to strengthen further in the next day or so after it was upgraded Monday from a tropical storm, according to officials with the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center.

Update 12:25 p.m. EDT Sept. 14: Officials with the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center said Monday that Tropical Storm Sally has strengthened into a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.

Update 11 a.m. EDT Sept. 14: A tropical storm warning and hurricane watch issued from the Mississippi-Alabama border to the Alabama-Florida border has been upgraded to a hurricane warning as Tropical Storm Sally continues to move over the Gulf of Mexico, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service.

Officials expect Sally to strengthen into a hurricane later Monday as it makes its approach toward southeastern Louisiana.

Update 8 a.m. EDT Sept. 14: Tropical Storm Sally strengthened slightly and continues to move slowly over the north-central Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said Monday morning.

In its 8 a.m. EDT advisory, the agency said the storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, was about 115 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 165 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi. It was moving west-northwest at 8 mph.

Read more here.

Update 4:56 a.m. EDT Sept. 14: Outer rain bands from Tropical Storm Sally are approaching the northern Gulf Coast, the National Hurricane Center said early Monday.

In its 5 a.m. EDT advisory, the agency said the storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, was about 120 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 175 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi. It was moving west-northwest at 9 mph.

Read more here.

Update 2:19 a.m. EDT Sept. 14: Tropical Storm Sally is forecast to produce life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall along parts of the northern Gulf Coast beginning later today, the National Hurricane Center said early Monday.

In its 2 a.m. EDT advisory, the agency said the storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, was about 165 miles south of Pensacola, Florida, and 150 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was moving west at 12 mph.

Read more here.

Update 11:18 p.m. EDT Sept. 13: Forecasters with the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center expect Tropical Storm Sally to slow down before reaching hurricane strength Monday.

Although Sally’s maximum sustained winds remain steady at about 60 mph, the storm is expected to be upgraded to a hurricane by Monday night with some additional strengthening possible before its eye crosses the northern Gulf Coast.

According to the center’s 11 p.m. EST advisory, Sally is located about 140 miles south-southwest of Panama City, Florida, and about 185 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm has shifted to the northwest and slowed down to 9 mph.

The hurricane warning now extends from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including metropolitan New Orleans.

A tropical storm warning now extends from the Mississippi-Alabama border to Indian Pass, Florida and from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to west of Morgan City.

A slower west-northwestward motion is expected Monday and Monday night, followed by a further decrease in forward speed and a turn to the northwest Monday night and Tuesday, the NHC reported.

Per the current forecast track, Sally’s center will move over the north-central Gulf of Mexico on Monday and approach the northern Gulf Coast within the hurricane warning area on Tuesday, moving slowly northward near the northern Gulf Coast through Wednesday.

Tropical storm-force winds currently extend outward up to 125 miles from Sally’s center.

Update 5:33 p.m. EDT Sept. 13: Tropical Storm Sally continued churning across the Gulf of Mexico late Sunday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and is expected to reach hurricane strength Monday, according to the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center.

At 5 p.m. EST, the storm was located about 165 miles south of Panama City, Florida, and about 215 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, moving north-northwest at 9 mph. Life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall are expected along portions of the northern Gulf Coast beginning Monday.

On the forecast track, Sally’s center will move over the north-central Gulf of Mexico tonight and Monday, and approach the north-central Gulf Coast within the hurricane warning area late Monday night. The storm is expected to move slowly northward near the southeastern Louisiana or Mississippi coasts through Tuesday, the NHC reported.

Tropical-storm-force winds currently extend outward up to 125 miles, primarily to the east of the center.

Update 2:04 p.m. EDT Sept. 13: Tropical Storm Sally continues her northwest track as she strengthens in the Gulf of Mexico, weather officials said in their latest forecast.

The storm has 60 mph maximum sustained winds. It is about 140 miles from Apalachicola, Florida, and is moving at 12 mph.

The system is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds and heavy rainfall to portions of the Gulf Coast on Monday.

Previous watches and warnings remain in effect.

Update 11:04 a.m. EDT Sept. 13: Tropical Storm Sally continues to strengthen as the storm inches closer to the Gulf Coast, weather officials said in their latest forecast.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds have increased to 60 mph. Sally has slightly decreased speed to 12 mph but continues to gain wind speed on her northwest route.

The hurricane warning along the Louisiana coast has been extended west to Morgan City.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for Morgan City to Intracoastal City.

Other watches and warnings remain in effect.

Update 8:04 a.m. EDT Sept. 13: Tropical Storm Sally is drenching southwest Florida with heavy rain as the storm moves north, weather officials said.

The storm has 50 mph maximum sustained winds and is moving west-northwest at 13 mph. Sally is expected to reach the eastern Gulf of Mexico later Sunday.

Previous watches and warnings remain in effect.

The storm is forecast to become a hurricane Monday.

Update 10:44 p.m. EDT Sept. 12: Tropical Storm Sally is expected to strengthen as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 p.m. EDT advisory. The system remains a minimal tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

Sally is located 70 miles southwest of Port Charlotte, Florida, and 425 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm is moving west-northwest at 8 mph. The center of Sally is expected to move over the southeastern and eastern Gulf of Mexico late Saturday and then moved through the north-central Gulf on Sunday. The storm is forecast to approach the north-central Gulf coast late Monday and is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane on Monday, the hurricane center said.

A hurricane watch remains in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border. The watch extends into metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Ponchartrain. A tropical storm watch is still in effect from the Ochlockonee River on the Florida Panhandle west to the Alabama/Florida border.

Update 7:53 p.m. EDT: The National Hurricane Center said that life-threatening storm surges and hurricane-force winds are possible as Tropical Storm Sally tracks northward in the Gulf of Mexico.

In its 8 p.m. EDT intermediate advisory, the hurricane center said the season’s 18th-named tropical system maintained maximum sustained winds of 40 mph as it moved west-northwest at 8 p.m. The center of Sally was located 45 miles west of Naples, Florida, and 465 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

A hurricane watch remains in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border. The watch extends into metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Ponchartrain. A tropical storm watch is in effect from the Ochlockonee River on the Florida Panhandle west to the Alabama/Florida border.

The hurricane center said Sally is expected to take a more northwestern turn Sunday and Monday before turning more to the north as it approaches the northern Gulf coast. The storm is projected to become a hurricane by Monday night or Tuesday morning.

The next advisory by the National Hurricane Center will be issued at 11 p.m. EDT.

Update 7:08 p.m. EDT Sept. 12: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency in advance of Tropical Storm Sally, which is forecast to strengthen to a hurricane that could impact the state as early as Monday morning.

“While we ultimately don’t know where Sally will make landfall, much of Southeast Louisiana is in the storm’s cone and the risk of tropical storm force or hurricane strength winds continues to increase. Please stay weather aware for the next several days and heed the directions of your local officials. This storm has the potential to be very serious,” Edwards said in a statement. “Barely two weeks ago, Louisiana suffered a devastating blow when Hurricane Laura came ashore as the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in Louisiana history, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. This, when combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, can make us all weary. I implore Louisianans to take their preparations seriously.”

Update 4:58 p.m. EDT Sept. 12: Tropical Storm Sally began to pull away from the southwest Florida coast and head into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico late Saturday afternoon.

In its 5 p.m. EDT advisory Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said the center of Sally was packing sustained maximum winds of 40 mph as it moved away from the Florida coast. The storm was located about 30 miles south-southwest of Naples, Florida, and was moving west a 7 mph, the hurricane center reported.

A hurricane watch is in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border. The watch extends into metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Ponchartrain. A tropical storm watch has been extended from the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida west to the Alabama/Florida border.

The hurricane center said Sally is expected to take a more northwestern turn and is projected to become a hurricane by Monday night.

The National Hurricane Center will issue an intermediate advisory at 8 p.m. EDT.

Update 3:22 p.m. EDT Sept. 12: The center of newly formed Tropical Storm Sally was located about 35 miles south-southeast of Naples, Florida and was moving west at 7 p.m., according to the National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph at the center of the storm.

According to the National Hurricane Center, additional strengthening is expected over the next few days, with Sally expected to become a hurricane by late Monday.

The next advisory by the National Hurricane Center will be issued at 5 p.m. EDT.


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