Tropical Storm Sally formed over the Eastern Gulf of Mexico near Florida on Saturday, bringing heavy rain and the potential for flooding to central and south Florida on Sunday.
It’s then expected to strengthen into a hurricane early this week, threatening parts of the Northern Gulf of Mexico coastline. Hurricane warnings are now in place for parts of coastal Mississippi and Louisiana, including New Orleans.
Sally is also the earliest named S-storm to form in the Atlantic in recorded history.
Heavy rain will be the storm’s primary threat to the Sunshine State, where flood watches are in place for central and southern parts of the state this weekend.
“(Sally) will continue moving west this weekend,” says Spectrum News Meteorologist Brian McClure. “It will not change our forecast as we already planned for this to bring us more wet weather. However, this will change the boating forecast in the Gulf of Mexico with higher winds and rougher seas expect Saturday through Monday.”
Hurricane warnings stretch from Grand Isle, Louisiana to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. A storm surge warning is in place from Port Fourchon, Louisiana to the Mississippi/Alabama border.
These both include New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.
A tropical storm warning is also in place from Ocean Springs, Mississippi to Indian Pass, Florida.
The cyclone is now forecast to strengthen into a hurricane and could reach Category 1 status before landfall near Mississippi or Louisiana.
Spaghetti computer forecast models are in generally strong agreement that the storm will continue to track west over south Florida this weekend before turning north towards the coastal Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
Interests along the northern Gulf of Mexico coastline should keep an especially close eye on the trajectory of this system, with a possible landfall next Tuesday or Wednesday.
Paulette A Hurricane; Threat For Bermuda
Meanwhile, Hurricane Paulette is also churning through the Central Atlantic. Its track to the northwest will continue this week before taking a slight north turn by the beginning of next week.
Paulette became the sixth hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season on Saturday, which is equivalent to the full-season average for the basin.
Paulette initially formed as Tropical Depression Seventeen last Sunday, about halfway between the Lesser Antilles and Cabo Verde Islands. It became a tropical storm Monday morning.
Paulette has strengthened and could continue to intensify as it approaches Bermuda. Hurricane warnings are already in place for Bermuda.
It is expected to reach Category 2 status near the island. This will bring strong winds, storm surge, and heavy rain to Bermuda by tonight, lasting into Monday.
The southeastern U.S., Leeward Islands, Greater Antilles, and Bahamas could see life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Tropical Depression Rene
Farther east, Rene continues to linger in the central Atlantic and has weakened to a tropical depression.
Rene is expected to weaken even further over the next day or two. Rene isn’t expected to threaten the United States or the Caribbean at this time.
Tropical Depression Twenty
Yet another tropical depression formed in the Central Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, joining the busy midseason parade of storms.
Tropical Depression Twenty formed over the East-Central Atlantic Ocean late on Saturday, and while it’s expected to strengthen into a hurricane, it should stay out to sea.
Other Systems To Watch
Several other systems are being monitored in the Atlantic.
A tropical wave coming off the west coast of Africa has a medium chance of developing into a tropical cyclone.
One other system could also develop in the Gulf. It has a low chance of doing so, however.
Picking Up Again
The average peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is around September 10. This time of year, tropical systems can develop just about anywhere, although it’s common for them to form where these two are. September also has a history of memorable hurricanes.
Before Monday, the earliest P-storm on record was Philippe, which was named on September 17, 2005. The earliest R-storm was Rita on September 18, 2005.
This year continues to outpace the record-setting 2005 season.