Hurricane Sally is rapidly ramping up in strength today; the system is organizing and growing as it moves slowly west-northwest toward the northern Gulf Coast. Conditions are already deteriorating along the Gulf Coast now, and will continue to deteriorate over the next 36-48 hours.
Hurricane Warnings are in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana to Navarre, Florida, including all of the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coast in expectation of landfall late Tuesday into Wednesday morning. A storm surge of 4 to 11 feet will inundate the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coasts. The highest surge and wind is usually on the eastern side of the storm nearest the ‘eye’ of the hurricane. The greatest concerns for Alabama are along the coastline in Mobile County, the western shore of Mobile Bay, and the beaches and bays in Baldwin county.
Very heavy rainfall is expected for the Gulf Coast, including New Orleans, which could 6-10 inches of rain. Mobile could also receive as much as 20 inches of rain, sparking major flooding concerns for anyone still located along the coastline. Catastrophic flooding may still be Sally’s biggest impact.
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Sally brings rain & wind later this week
It is becoming clearer that Sally’s impact in North Alabama will be mainly rain, and even that will vary greatly from one end of the Tennessee Valley to the other. A slight northward shift in the track would supply more rain; a slight southward shift would mean less rainfall over-all for the northern half of the state.
WHEN? We expect the rain and wind to be most impactful in Central and North Alabama from Wednesday evening through Thursday evening: about 24 hours of downpours and a stiff breeze.
The wind will be noticeable on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; however, peak gusts in the 35-45 MPH range are more likely early Thursday as the storm’s center passes through Central Alabama.
Severe storms are not ‘likely’ in North Alabama, but some severe weather is possible in the Central and Southern regions of the state: tornadoes and strong winds being the main threats there. Just like with the rain, a slight shift northward would increase the odds of a few severe storms up this way, too. Be alert to any changes!