Sally rapidly intensified into the season’s eighth hurricane on Monday and is poised to bring significant flooding to parts of the Gulf Coast.
NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft investigating the storm late Monday afternoon found Sally rapidly intensified into a Category 2 storm. Since then, the strongest wind has come down some, but the hurricane remains dangerous as it nears the coast.
Hurricane warnings stretch from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi to Navarre, Florida. A storm surge warning is in place from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the western Florida Panhandle.
A tropical storm warning is also in place from Navarre to Indian Pass, Florida, as well as west of Bay St. Louis to Grand Isle, Louisiana. Since Sally’s track has shifted east, New Orleans is no longer in a tropical storm warning.
Heavy rain was the storm’s primary problem in the Sunshine State after dropping nearly 10″ of rain in the Keys. Even more rain than that will fall across parts of the Gulf Coast because Sally’s forward speed has slowed to a crawl.
Flash flood watches have been posted from the Florida panhandle, across most of Alabama, and into Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia. Rainfall well over a foot is possible, which will cause major flash flooding and longer-lasting river flooding.
Tropical storm conditions have begun along the coast as the storm inches north at 2 mph. Offshore weather sensors measured wind gusts of 80 to 90 mph Tuesday morning.
Sally’s slow motion has made a precise track forecast difficult and where it comes ashore will depend on when it finally turns north. Landfall is expected sometime early Wednesday. Regardless of exactly when and where it happens, the effects will be felt far from that spot.
Sally is the earliest named S-storm to form in the Atlantic in recorded history.
Hurricane Paulette Rockets Away From Bermuda
Meanwhile, Hurricane Paulette is speeding through the Central Atlantic. It passed directly over Bermuda early Monday morning downing trees and knocking out power to much of the island.
Paulette has since moved far from Bermuda and should gradually weaken before losing its tropical characteristics later this week.
Portions of the East Coast of the U.S. continue to see life-threatening surf and rip current conditions even 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 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 as it travels in open waters over the next several days.
It’s forecast to become a major hurricane later this week. Teddy may eventually affect Bermuda, but that wouldn’t happen until next week if it does so.
Tropical Storm Vicky Fades Soon
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 dissipate within 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.
The Rest of the Atlantic
In the central Atlantic, former Tropical Storm Rene dissipated into a remnant low late Monday afternoon.
Another tropical wave off the west coast of Africa has a high chance of developing into a tropical cyclone later this week.
Two other disturbances have a low chance of developing. One is over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, while another is in the north Atlantic north of the Azores.
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.
At one time on Monday, five tropical cyclones were occurring in the Atlantic at one time. This 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.