Tracking the Tropics: Hurricane Sally strengthens to a Category 2 storm

Tracking the Tropics

At 8 p.m. CDT Monday, Hurricane Sally has slowed to a crawl, moving WNW at 5 mph about 90 miles South of Dauphin Island, AL. This storm, much like other tropical cyclones, has a lopsided core, with a vast majority of the convection & heavy rainfall isolated to the storm’s Eastern side. Sally has strengthened to a respectable category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds and a minimum central pressure of 988mb.

The most significant impact from Sally will be extreme rainfall & storm surge expected across a large chunk of Mississippi, Alabama, & Florida’s Gulf coast. This is mostly because Sally is a slow-moving storm, which will exacerbate the overall threat of flooding along the coast & farther inland in South Alabama.

Here is the latest updated forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. Sally is now expected to be much closer to Mobile rather than New Orleans, as it was about 2 days ago.

Here’s what rainfall totals across the region now look like from our in-house computer model forecast. Due to a sustained conveyor belt of outer bands from the storm, as much as 1 to 2 feet of rain is possible along the I-10 corridor from De Funiak Springs, FL to Pascagoula, MS.

On top of that, as much as 9 to 12 feet of storm surge is possible across most of Mobile Bay. Other areas nearby, like Pascagoula, Gulfport, & Pensacola may receive anywhere from 1 to 6 feet of surge as well. Those with interests in the area are strongly encouraged to heed the advice of local emergency management officials.

As Sally lifts NE into Central Alabama on Wednesday, we’re expecting some of that steady tropical rainfall to make its way into our area. While the impacts won’t be as bad for us this far inland, we’re still monitoring for the risk of flash flooding, strong winds, & maybe a brief tornado developing in our far Southern counties.

Of course, if the forecast track shifts back to the North, our totals would go back up. But thankfully, as of right now, our in-house forecast model is forecasting for most of Central Alabama around 1 to 4″ of rain with some locally higher amounts. The highest totals will be along & South of I-20…the farther South you live, the more rain you’ll likely see. These forecast totals are subject to change. Be sure to stay tuned for further updates.

With all of that being said, a Flash Flood Watch remains in effect until 7 AM Thursday due to the uncertainty of Sally‘s exact path. Our winds may max out at 25 to 35 mph Wednesday night as well. As always, with any landfalling tropical cyclone, there’s a threat for tornadoes in the storm’s NE quadrant. Whether or not WE see a severe threat in Central Alabama will depend on the storm’s exact track, but it’s something we’ll definitely need to be mindful of going into Wednesday night.

That’s all for now!  We’ll be steadily providing updates on Sally’s progress as it slowly edges closer to the coast tomorrow & then farther inland on Wednesday.  Be sure to download the CBS 42 Storm Team Weather App for up to the minute alerts in YOUR town, and be sure to follow us on Twitter for more weather updates from across the South.  Have a great evening!


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