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Conditions Deteriorate as Hurricane Sally Approaches Gulf Coast

After bringing heavy rain and flooding to parts of Florida on Sunday, Tropical Storm Sally rapidly intensified on Monday into the season’s eighth hurricane.

What You Need To Know

  • Hurricane warnings stretch from Louisiana to Florida
  • Dangerous storm surge and strong winds are expected Monday into Tuesday
  • Hurricane Paulette made a direct hit on Bermuda early Monday
  • Tropical Storm Vicky forms, but will be short-lived

NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft investigating the storm late Monday afternoon found Sally has rapidly grown more organized, packing maximum sustained winds of 100 mph. This makes Sally a powerful Category 2 hurricane.

Further strengthening is likely and Sally could become a major hurricane before making landfall Tuesday night.

Hurricane warnings stretch from Grand Isle, Louisiana to Navarre, Florida. A storm surge warning is in place from Port Fourchon, Louisiana to parts of the Florida Panhandle.

These warnings include New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. Mandatory evacuations have been announced for those outside New Orleans’ levee protection system.

A tropical storm warning is also in place from the Navarre to Indian Pass, Florida.

Heavy rain was the storm’s primary problem in the Sunshine State after dropping nearly 10″ of rain in the Keys. Not only will it bring significant storm surge and gusty winds to the north-central Gulf Coast, but heavy rain and flooding will be likely to spread inland.

Tropical storm conditions were already occuring in parts of the Florida Panhandle Monday night as the storm inched west-northwest at 3 mph.

The slow-moving storm is forecast to drop feet of rain in some parts along the coast. Flash flood watches have been posted from the Florida panhandle and across southern Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Spaghetti computer forecast models are in strong agreement that the storm will continue to track northwest over the Gulf before turning north. There is still question on when exactly that north turn will happen. Regardless of landfall location, the effects will be felt far from there.

Sally is also the earliest named S-storm to form in the Atlantic in recorded history.

Hurricane Paulette Hits Bermuda

Meanwhile, Hurricane Paulette is churning through the Central Atlantic. It passed directly over Bermuda early Monday morning downing trees and knocking out power to much of the island.

Warnings have been lifted as the storm continues to pull away from the island. It is expected to intensify even further after it heads into the open Atlantic.

Portions of the East Coast of the U.S. could see life-threatening surf and rip current conditions as the storm remains well offshore.

Paulette became the sixth hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season on Saturday, which is equivalent to the full-season average for the basin.

Tropical Storm Vicky Forms

Tropical Storm Vicky developed midday Monday after it started as Tropical Depression Twenty-One west of the Cabo Verde Islands earlier in the day. It’s forecast to remain weak and fade away in a few days as it moves west into unfavorable wind and cooler waters.

This is the first time a “V” storm has formed in September.

Tropical Storm Teddy Strengthening

Teddy began as a tropical depression in the Central Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, joining the busy midseason parade of storms. It became a tropical storm early Monday, the first “T” storm to form in September.

Teddy is expected to strengthen into a hurricane, it will be in open waters over the next several days. It may eventually affect Bermuda, however.

The Rest of the Atlantic

In the central Atlantic, formerly Tropical Storm Rene dissipated into a remnant low late Monday afternoon.

Another tropical wave coming off the west coast of Africa has a medium chance of developing into a tropical cyclone later this week.

Another disturbance over the western Gulf of Mexico could also develop. It has a low chance of doing so, however.

Peak of the Hurricane Season

The average peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is around September 10. This time of year, tropical systems can develop just about anywhere with tracks across much of the basin. September also has a history of memorable hurricanes.

Five tropical cyclones at one time is rare, according to to Phillip Klotzbach, a meteorologist and researcher at Colorado State University.

This year continues to outpace the record-setting 2005 season.

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