Tracking the Tropics: Sally gaining strength as it approaches the Gulf coast

Tracking the Tropics

At 4 PM CDT Sunday, Tropical Storm Sally continues to churn Westward at 9 mph through the Gulf of Mexico.  Thunderstorm coverage has now fully wrapped around the center of circulation, indicating the storm is strengthening and will likely become a hurricane sometime overnight tonight.  Right now, the storm has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and a minimum central pressure of 996mb.

A Hurricane Warning is now in effect for a large chunk of Southeast Louisiana & the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  A Hurricane Watch is now in effect for the Alabama Gulf Coast, as hurricane conditions are not necessarily as likely that far from the storm’s center.  HOWEVER, excessive rainfall & storm surge are still a likely hazard for Alabama’s Gulf Coast…

Here’s the latest official forecast track for Sally from the National Hurricane Center.  Since yesterday, the track appears to have shifted ever-so-slightly WEST, with landfall now expected near the mouth of the Mississippi River late Tuesday night. The storm’s center is likely to pass very close, if not right through downtown New Orleans on Tuesday. IMPORTANT to note…Sally’s forward motion will be SLOW.  The storm will slow down considerably before & just after making landfall, meaning excessive rainfall & storm surge will likely pile up & be the biggest problem from the storm.

Also, as Sally slowly comes ashore & moves inland, it will likely accelerate Northeast into Central Alabama as a tropical depression.  This means we’ll also likely see some of that excessive rainfall as well, mostly during the day Wednesday & Thursday.

We’re most likely looking at 4 to 6” of rain areawide in Central Alabama, with places closest to the storm’s center seeing the most rain.  As with any landfalling tropical cyclone, we’ll also need to be weary of the risk of brief tornadoes that could develop.  We’ll be fine-tuning that aspect of the forecast as we get closer in time.

That’s all for now!  Be sure to download the CBS 42 Storm Team Weather App to get up to the minute weather alerts in YOUR area.  Also be sure to follow me on Twitter (@GriffinHardyWX) for other weather updates from across the Deep South.  Take care, & stay weather ready this upcoming week!

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