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Hurricane Sally Prepares to Make Landfall, Flood Risk for Millions

Hurricane Sally continues to crawl towards the Gulf Coast, inundating parts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana with life-threatening and potentially historic rainfall.

What You Need To Know

  • Hurricane warnings stretch from Mississippi to the Florida Panhandle
  • Dangerous storm surge and strong winds are expected
  • Flash flood watches are in effect for over 10 million people
  • Paulette, Teddy, and Vicky are all in open Atlantic water

Sally intensified a second time as it approached the Gulf Coast late Tuesday into early Wednesday. It’s making landfall between Pensacola, Florida and Mobile Bay, Alabama. The effects will be felt far from that spot, however.

The primary threat from the storm, without a doubt, will be heavy rain due to the storm’s slow-moving nature. 6 to 10 inches of rain has already fallen and as much as 20 inches of rain could happen, leading to historic and life-threatening flooding.

Hurricane warnings stretch from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Okaloosa and Walton County border in the Florida Panhandle. A storm surge warning is in place from Fort Morgan, Alabama to the western Florida Panhandle.

A tropical storm warning is also in place from the Okaloosa and Walton County border to to Indian Pass, Florida, as well as west of from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Mississippi/Louisiana border.

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 been happening along the coast since Tuesday. Wind gusts over 80 mph have been observed even before landfall has occurred.

Tornadoes could be of concern as well, and tornado watches were in place for much of Tuesday along a large stretch of the Gulf Coast.

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

Hurricane Paulette Speeds Through Open Water

Meanwhile, Hurricane Paulette is speeding through the northern 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 will lose its tropical characteristics today.

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.

Teddy Becomes a Hurricane

Teddy became the eight hurricane of the season early Wednesday. 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 major hurricane as it travels in open waters over the next several days.

The storm may affect Bermuda early next week. It could lead to punishing surf for parts of the East Coast this weekend and into next week.

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

A tropical wave off the west coast of Africa has a high chance of developing into a tropical cyclone later this week. Another wave in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico has a medium chance of developing. wo other disturbances have a low chance of developing. One in the north Atlantic north of the Azores has a low chance of developing.

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.

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