Sally is now a Hurricane.
Weather officials said Sally now has maximum sustained winds of 85 mph making it a Category 1 hurricane. The storm is expected to strengthen before it makes landfall Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.
Tropical Storm Sally could become Hurricane Sally as soon as tonight, weather experts predict.
As of 7 a.m. CDT Monday, Sally was located 165 miles southeast of Biloxi, Miss., and was tracking to the west-northwest at 8 mph. The storm is packing winds of 65 mph, 9 miles slower than the level for a Category 1 hurricane designation.
Alabama could see strong winds, high storm surge and heavy flooding. A Hurricane Watch and Storm Surge Warning are in effect for Mobile and Baldwin counties with a Tropical Storm Warning as well, including Washington County. Flash Flood Watches will be in effect for a large portion of the state by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Tracking from the National Weather Service shows the storm arriving along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts by Tuesday at 1 p.m. The projection shows the storm curving northeast into Mississippi by 1 a.m. Wednesday before approaching the Mississippi/Alabama state line at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The storm is prediction to arrive in the western portions of central Alabama before 1 a.m. Thursday tracking across the state before entering into Georgia by 1 a.m. Friday.
Jim Stefkovich, meteorologist with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said impacts from the storm will be felt outside of the cone of the path, with tropical-storm-force winds extending 125 miles from the center.
Rains will move onshore today with potential gusts of 40-50 mph with heavy rains with rates of 2-3 inches per hour in sports with the potential for tornadoes. The likely arrive time of sustained tropical-storm-force winds will occur along the coast along 8 p.m. today with conditions rapidly deteriorating from south to north on Tuesday. Storm surge of 4-6 feet above ground level is expected for the coast and Mobile Bay.
Stefkovich said there is now a 30-40% chance of sustained tropical storm-force winds all the way to I-20 and west of I-65 by late Tuesday afternoon or evening. However, rain bands with gusts of 40-50 mph – strong enough to down trees and power lines – are possible earlier in the day. The tornado threat will move inland on Tuesday and especially Wednesday into Thursday.
All preparations should already be completed along the coast and completed tonight further inland, experts said.
In Southwest Alabama, total rainfall by Friday morning is forecast to be 10-20 inches with some spots nearing or exceeding 25 inches. Elsewhere across the state, 6-12 inches are forecast as far north as I-20/59 with some sports nearing or exceeding 15 inches. Significant river flooding will occur into next week.