Hurricane Sally Crawling Toward Gulf Coast With Life-Threatening Storm Surge and Potentially Historic Flooding Rainfall – The Weather Channel

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Sally Could Bring Historic Flooding to Gulf Coast
  • Hurricane Sally is moving slowly in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
  • Sally’s slow movement will result in prolonged impacts on the Gulf Coast.
  • Life-threatening storm surge is expected, particularly in parts of southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
  • Flooding rain is a major threat from Sally on the Gulf Coast and farther inland across the Southeast this week.
  • Rainfall totals of up to 30 inches could result in historic flooding near and just inland from the northern Gulf Coast.
  • Damaging winds are expected near where Sally’s center crosses the coast.

Hurricane Sally is moving slowly near the northern Gulf Coast, where it will bring an extremely dangerous storm surge, potentially historic flooding rainfall and damaging winds through midweek. Sally will also pose a threat of flooding rainfall farther inland across parts of the Southeast.

Sally will produce a deadly duo of human-height storm surge and a foot or more of rainfall along parts of the northern Gulf Coast. Nearly 90% of deaths caused by hurricanes are the result of a combination of rainfall flooding, storm surge and rip currents.

Follow the advice of local officials if you are ordered to evacuate an area prone to flooding from storm surge.

(MORE: Evacuations Ordered Ahead of Sally)

Current Alerts

A hurricane warning has been issued from east of the mouth of the Pearl River, Mississippi, to Navarre, Florida, including Biloxi, Mobile and Pensacola. Hurricane conditions (winds 74 mph or greater) are expected in some parts of this area late Tuesday 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 Okaloosa/Walton 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.

Current Wind Watches and Warnings

Happening Now

Sally is centered 105 miles south-southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi. Maximum sustained winds are 85 mph, making Sally a Category 1 hurricane.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles from the center of the storm.

Current Wind Field

(The orange circle shows the extent of the system’s tropical-storm-force winds (at least 39 mph). The purple circle indicates the extent of hurricane-force winds (at least 74 mph), according to the National Hurricane Center.)

Bands of heavy rain and gusty winds are affecting the northern Gulf Coast this morning, particularly in parts of the Florida Panhandle, southern Alabama and southeast Mississippi.

Minor to moderate coastal flooding is also being observed this morning at various tidal gauges from southeast Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.

A tornado watch is in effect for coastal Alabama and the western and central Florida Panhandle until 6 p.m. CDT.

Current Radar and Winds

Track, Intensity Forecast

Sally is expected to turn more northward later Tuesday into Wednesday. The track of Sally has also shifted more eastward and landfall is now most likely to occur sometime on Wednesday from Mississippi to Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.

No significant additional strengthening is forecast because of multiple factors, including increasingly unfavorable upper-level winds.

However, the lack of additional strengthening does not reduce the serious danger Sally poses to the northern Gulf coast. Its slow forward speed will result in prolonged impacts from flooding rainfall, storm surge and strong winds.

Current Information and Projected Path

(The red-shaded area denotes the potential path of the center of the tropical cyclone. It’s important to note that impacts (particularly heavy rain, high surf, coastal flooding, winds) with any tropical cyclone usually spread beyond its forecast path.)

Here’s a look at what to expect.

Forecast Impacts

Storm Surge, High Surf

A potentially life-threatening storm surge is expected along the northern Gulf Coast through midweek. 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 tides in the areas below are generally on Tuesday morning and then late Wednesday morning or early Wednesday afternoon.

-6 to 9 feet from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to Dauphin Island, Alabama, including Mobile Bay.

-4 to 7 feet from Dauphin Island, Alabama, to the Florida border and from the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Borgne.

The peak storm surge will be near and to the right of where the center of Sally makes landfall. Large waves could worsen the storm surge impacts in some areas and cause significant beach erosion on much of the northern Gulf Coast.

Storm Surge Forecast

(These numbers represent how high water levels may climb near the coastline if the peak storm surge occurs at high tide. )

Flooding Rainfall

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 southeast Mississippi to coastal Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle. NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center has issued a rare high risk of excessive rainfall for this area into 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 western Florida Panhandle to southern Alabama and far southeastern Mississippi through Wednesday. Serious flash flooding and moderate to major river flooding could occur in these areas.

-4 to 8 inches, with locally up to 12 inches, is possible farther inland across southeastern Mississippi, southern and central Alabama, northern 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.

Rainfall Forecast

Flood watches have been issued by the National Weather Service in portions of the Florida Panhandle, southern and central Alabama and southern Mississippi.

Flood Alerts

(Flood watches mean flooding could occur in that area over the next few days, while flood warnings mean that flooding is expected or ongoing. )

Damaging Winds

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.

The winds could contribute to some structural damage, downed trees and power outages.

Probability of Tropical Storm Force Winds

(The contours above show the chance of tropical-storm-force winds (at least 39 mph), according to the latest forecast by the National Hurricane Center.

Here is the latest wind gust forecast. Changes to this forecast are likely depending on the exact future track and intensity of Sally.

Wind Gust Forecast


There will be an increasing chance of isolated tornadoes from Sally on Tuesday, from southeast Mississippi to southern Alabama and portions of the Florida Panhandle.

The isolated tornado threat might continue on Wednesday in parts of southern Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia

(Shaded on the map above is the likelihood of severe thunderstorms, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. Note that not all categories apply for the severe weather risk on a particular day.)

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

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.


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