Hurricane Sally

Hurricane Sally unleashes “catastrophic and life-threatening” flooding along Gulf Coast – CBS News


Sally still dumping heavy rain as it moves slowly north

Tropical Storm Sally continues to produce heavy rain in eastern Alabama and western Georgia as it moves slowly northeast, according to the National Hurricane Center. As of Wednesday evening, Sally was located about 70 miles west-northwest of Dothan, Alabama. The storm was moving northeast at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.

The NHC also warned that “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding” was continuing in parts of southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.


Alabama utility company warns of “prolonged, extensive outages”

An electric utility in south Alabama is warning people hit by power outages from the passage of Sally that they may not get their lights back any time soon.

Baldwin EMC, the electric utility that services Baldwin County and part of a neighboring county in southeastern Alabama, posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that it had crews going out to assess the damage. But the utility warned customers they could be in for “prolonged, extensive outages due to the amount of damage.”

“We don’t want to sugar coat this; we’re in it for the long haul,” the message said. Utility officials have asked people who had medical equipment needing electricity to start making alternative plans.

More than 500,000 residential and business customers of utilities in Alabama and Florida have been hit with outages, reported Wednesday afternoon.


Florida governor warns of major river flooding

Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, is warning people in the state’s hard-hit panhandle to remain vigilant as Sally heads inland, warning major river flooding could come next.

DeSantis told a news conference Wednesday afternoon that Sally is dumping heavy rains as it treks inland across the Southeast. He said that is expected to cause massive flooding of several Florida Panhandle rivers in the coming days.

“So this is kind of the initial salvo, but there is going to be more that you’re going to have to contend with,” DeSantis said at an appearance at the state emergency operations center in Tallahassee.

As the rivers crest, DeSantis said, areas that weren’t initially flooded by the passing hurricane could still be affected, with residents forced to evacuate.

Hurricane Sally Makes Landfall On Gulf Coast
An abandoned vehicle is seen in a flooded road on September 16, 2020, in Pensacola, Florida.

Joe Raedle/Getty


Over 370 rescued from floods in Escambia County, Florida

Authorities in Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, said at least 377 people had been rescued from flooded areas. More than 40 people trapped by high water were brought to safety within a single hour, including a family of four found in a tree, Sheriff David Morgan said.

Officials in Pensacola, where Sally turned some streets into white-capped rivers for a time, said 200 National Guard members would arrive Thursday to help. Curfews were announced in Escambia County and in some coastal Alabama towns.

Morgan estimated thousands will need to flee rising waters in the coming days. Escambia officials urged residents to rely on text messages for contacting family and friends to keep cellphone service open for 911 calls.

“There are entire communities that we’re going to have to evacuate,” the sheriff said. “It’s going to be a tremendous operation over the next several days.”

Hurricane Sally
People cross a street flooded by Hurricane Sally in Pensacola, Florida, on September 16, 2020.



Tropical weather helps spread wildfire smoke to East Coast

Several tropical weather systems have caused more than heavy rain and high storm surges, as strong winds push smoke and plumes of carbon dioxide from wildfires in California and Oregon toward the Midwest and East Coast, according to NASA imaging.

While most smoke conditions in the east will be mild compared to the poor air quality advisories across the West Coast, hurricane winds will continue to spread carbon dioxide as well as smoke, which is a longer-lasting pollutant. 

The NASA smoke model not painting a pretty picture for the next 5 days in the Pacific NW. Also notice how the eastbound smoke gets wrapped up in Paulette later in the week. #idwx #orwx

— NWS Boise (@NWSBoise) September 14, 2020


“Lots of downed power lines, lots of creeks overflowing”

Pensacola resident Rodney Landrum compared Hurricane Sally to powerful Hurricane Ivan, which blasted ashore in neighboring coastal Alabama on September 16, 2004.

The 51-year-old computer database engineer recalled Hurricane Ivan as being “hellish, nightmarish.” It even blew tiles off his roof.

This time, Sally left his roof intact. And Landrum even slept as Sally blew ashore early Wednesday. He didn’t experience any flooding though many large trees came down, including a big tree that toppled on the roof of a neighbor.

“Lots of downed power lines, lots of creeks overflowing,” said Landrum after a drive in his neighborhood. “Nothing was open except for one McDonalds, which had a line of about 45 cars.”


Rescues underway in parts of Alabama and Florida

Two people were rescued on Alabama’s Dauphin Island after catastrophic storm surge and hurricane winds destroyed their home, the Associated Press reported.  The residents called emergency services after the roof of their home was completely ripped off, and the rest of their home crumbled under the pressure of the water.

“As things started to peel off and fall apart, they got scared and called for assistance,” said Mayor Jeff Collier.

The Dauphin island residents were two of many Alabama, Florida and Mississippi residents rescued by emergency services after Hurricane Sally made landfall.

In Orange Beach, Alabama, 50 residents were rescued after storm surges flooded their homes, the AP reported. In Florida, a family of four were found in a tree in Escambia County, while 40 other homeowners were rescued from the floods. 

The high-level winds and rising floodwaters are expected to cause more evacuations and emergency rescues throughout the next few days. 


Florida National Guard deployed to Escambia and Santa Rosa counties

The Florida National Guard has activated 500 soldiers and airmen in response to the tropical storm. The National Guard will help with search and rescue missions, shelter support and food and water distribution, CBS affiliate WKRG reported. 

The state’s National Guard said it is prepared to conduct aerial search missions on Thursday morning. 


Several boats sunk at Florida pier as Sally hits

Several boats docked at a pier in Pensacola, Florida, have sunk as Sally moved over the Gulf Coast. Pensacola police spokesperson Mike Wood also said Wednesday he doesn’t know the whereabouts of a replica of one of the ships that made Christopher Columbus’s historic voyage.

Sally, now a tropical storm, lumbered ashore Wednesday morning near the Florida-Alabama line as Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds and rain measured in feet, not inches. It has swamped homes and trapped people in high water as it creeps inland for what could be a long, slow and disastrous drenching across the Deep South.

hurricane sally
Floodwaters move on the street, Wednesday, September 16, 2020, in Pensacola, Florida. 

Gerald Herbert / AP


Updated list of storm warnings

The following warnings were in effect as of 1 p.m. CT, according to the National Hurricane Center.  

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:

  • Alabama/Florida border to the Walton/Bay County Line Florida 

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • Mississippi/Alabama border eastward to Indian Pass Florida

The hurricane center notes that a Hurricane Warning from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line has been changed to a Tropical Storm Warning, and that Storm Surge Warning from Dauphin Island, Alabama, to the Alabama/Florida border was discontinued.


Part of the Three Mile Bridge knocked out in Pensacola

Sally has knocked out part of the new Three Mile Bridge, located in Pensacola, Florida. 

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan confirmed at a news conference Wednesday that a section of the bridge came off as the hurricane battered the city, the Associated Press reported.  

Santa Rosa County Emergency Management tweeted a picture showing the damage.

Photo from the Three Mile Bridge showing the missing section.

— Santa Rosa County Emergency Management (@SRC_EM) September 16, 2020


Alabama governor: “Many areas” are seeing historic flooding

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said Wednesday that “many areas” along Mobile and the eastern shoreline of Mobile Bay are seeing historic flood levels. 

She pleaded with people to stay home and not go on roads to check on storm damage unless absolutely necessary.

“It is imperative that we all heed warnings from our trusted weather experts and local leaders,” she said in a statement. 

As #HurricaneSally continues to impact our state and slowly makes its way across inland AL, it is imperative that we all heed warnings from our trusted weather experts and local leaders. My team and I are closely monitoring the situation – full statement below. #alpolitics #alwx

— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) September 16, 2020


Coast Guard helicopters flying over Gulf Coast

The U.S. Coast Guard has sent helicopters flying over the Gulf Coast to check for anyone in distress as Hurricane Sally pummels the region with wind and rain.

In a statement, the agency says MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and MH-65 Dolphin choppers were checking for trouble, but had no immediate reports of any distress calls or search-and-rescue incidents as of mid-morning Wednesday.


Photos show floodwaters in Penscola

Photos emerging Wednesday from Pensacola, Florida, showed floodwaters reaching disturbing levels – immersing roads and entrapping vehicles.

APTOPIX Tropical Weather
A man watches floodwaters, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in downtown Pensacola, Florida.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Tropical Weather
Flood waters move on the street, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in Pensacola, Fla. Hurricane Sally made landfall Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a Category 2 storm.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Tropical Weather
Flood waters move on the street, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in downtown Pensacola, Florida. 

Gerald Herbert/AP


“There are entire communities that we’re going to have to evacuate”

Emergency crews plucked people from flooded homes Wednesday. In Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, more than 40 were rescued, including a family of four found in a tree, said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan.

Morgan estimated thousands more will need to flee rising waters in the coming days. County officials urged residents to stick to text messages for contacting family and friends to keep cellphone service open for 911 calls.

“There are entire communities that we’re going to have to evacuate,” Morgan said. “It’s going to be a tremendous operation over the next several days.”

The storm collapsed a section of the Three Mile Bridge across Pensacola Bay, the sheriff said, and crews struggled to stop a barge that had broken loose from drifting into a nearby bridge that is part of Interstate 10. Officials closed I-10, which runs parallel to the Gulf Coast, in hard-hit areas of both Florida and Alabama


Roads under water in Florida’s Walton County

Authorities tweeted pictures Wednesday showing flooding in Walton County, Florida, which is several hours east of where Sally made landfall.

The images showed one car stuck in flooding and others trying to cross a treacherous swath of roadway covered in water.

Case and point. Stay off the roads.

This is a car stuck in the bridge over White Creek off County Highway 183 S in the valley.

Call our non-emergency line at (850)-892-8111 for assistance or dial 911 in an emergency. #HurricaneSally

— Walton Co. Sheriff (@WCSOFL) September 16, 2020


This is 393 South. Your car will not make it.

If you don’t need to be on the roads. DON’T. #HurricaneSally

— Walton Co. Sheriff (@WCSOFL) September 16, 2020


Over half a million power outages reported

More than 500,000 power outages are being reported in Florida and Alabama as Sally pummels portions of the two states. 

Another 60,000 outages are being reported in Mississippi and Louisiana, according to, which tracks outages across the country. 

Officials across the region have warned people to sty indoors due to dangerous conditions including damage to roads, flooding and downed power lines.

If you see any downed lines after the storm, don’t assume they are de-energized and maintain a safe social distance. Report any downed lines to us at 1-800-888-APCO or your local police or fire department. #SafetyFirst

— alabamapower (@alabamapower) September 16, 2020


Latest list of warnings and watches

The following warnings and watches were in effect Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:

  • Dauphin Island Alabama to the Walton/Bay County Line Florida 

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Mississippi/Alabama border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line, Florida 

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • East of the Okaloosa/Walton County line Florida to Indian Pass. Florida 

Alabama gov.: “Please only call 9-1-1 for a LIFE THREATENING emergency”

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey urged residents Wednesday morning to only call 911 for life-threatening emergencies. 

“We have to utilize our first responders for the most critical needs,” she tweeted. “Urgent to stay indoors and stay safe to keep our first responders available for those who truly need it the most.”

Like other officials across the Gulf Coast, she urged people not to go outside to check on damage, and to stay away from live power lines and fallen trees.

Folks, please refrain from going outside to check on damage from #HurricaneSally unless you absolutely have to! Please use all caution – stay away from live power lines and fallen trees. Your first responders are working around the clock – please stay safe! #alwx #alpolitics

— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) September 16, 2020


McEnany: White House “fully engaged” amid storm

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says the White House is “fully engaged” as Hurricane Sally pounds the Gulf Coast with wind and rain.

Speaking Wednesday morning on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” McEnany said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is also fully engaged and cited President Donald Trump’s issuance of emergency declarations for the affected states.

McEnany didn’t have details on which officials the president had spoken with as of Wednesday morning but said “it’s safe to say the White House has been in active contact with all of these governors.”


Rainfall amounts “are piling up” along the coast

Forecasters report that rainfall amounts are “piling up” in the Florida Panhandle and southeast Alabama.

Sally had already dumped as much as 18″ of rain in some areas as of early Wednesday, creating catastrophic flash flooding, the National Weather Service said.

Heavy rainfall from Hurricane Sally has already produced up to 18″ of rain, creating catastrophic flash flooding. Additional rainfall as high as 12+” on the Gulf Coast, 4-8+” in AL/GA, 4-6+” in the Carolinas, and 2-5+” in VA will spread flash flooding northeast through Friday.

— NWS Weather Prediction Center (@NWSWPC) September 16, 2020


Orange Beach extends curfew, warns of life-threatening conditions

A curfew in Orange Beach, Alabama, has been extended until 12 p.m. Wednesday and will likely be extended again as officials get a better sense of the damage. The city told residents to shelter in place and warned of life-threatening conditions that will likely continue into Wednesday afternoon.

The city said first responders have been inundated with calls and asked everyone to “please be patient.”

“They are doing everything they can to assist,” it said in a Facebook post Wednesday morning. “They will respond as soon as conditions allow.”

Orange Beach is EXPERIENCING LIFE-THREATENING CONDITIONS AS A RESULT OF HURRICANE SALLY NEARING SHORE AS A CAT 2. THE CITY WILL BE EXTENDING THE CURFEW TO AT LEAST NOON TODAY. The curfew will likely be extended all day as the city starts to assess the damage. @NWSMobile @spann

— City of Orange Beach (@cityorangebeach) September 16, 2020


Residents along coast urged to stay off roads

Officials along the Gulf Coast are telling residents to stay off roads due to dangerous conditions.

In Florida, Pensacola police asked people to resist the urge to drive around looking at damage Wednesday morning. 

“High winds will still be here for awhile. We need the roads clear for emergency response,” they tweeted.

In Walton County, to the east, officials warned of flooding on roadways and downed trees. “NO ONE should be on the roads right now in Walton County,” the sheriff’s office tweeted. “Conditions during #HurricaneSally are very dangerous and there is widespread flooding on roadways.”

“Please stay inside unless there is an emergency.”

Similar warnings were issued in other areas along the coast, including Alabama’s Baldwin County, which continued to experience dangerous conditions. 

Please stay off the roads! Power lines and trees are down around the City making it dangerous to be on the roads. Many roadways are flooded. This standing water could also be contaminated with wastewater, creating additional health and safety hazards.

— City of Fort Walton Beach (@CityOfFWB) September 16, 2020


Mayor: Dozens have been rescued from flood homes

City officials in Orange Beach, Alabama, say they’ve received 120 calls after midnight from people whose homes were flooded by Hurricane Sally. Mayor Tony Kennon says between 50 and 60 people were rescued and are staying in makeshift shelters Wednesday morning.

Kennon also said there are people they haven’t been able to get to because of high water. But he said they’re safe in their homes and will be rescued as soon as the water recedes.

Meanwhile, U.S. Coast Guard crews based in New Orleans are prepared to make rescues if needed, as soon as the storm passes.


Streets flooded on Florida’s on Okaloosa Island

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has shared photos showing Sally’s impact on Okaloosa Island, located just west of Destin, Florida.  

Photos coming in to us from our deputies and Supervisors showing some flooded areas including intersection of Highway 98 and Santa Rosa Boulevard on Okaloosa Island. ⭐️

— OkaloosaSheriff (@OCSOALERTS) September 16, 2020

Okaloosa Island

— OkaloosaSheriff (@OCSOALERTS) September 16, 2020


“Severe widespread damage” in Alabama’s Baldwin County

Alabama’s Baldwin County, located between Mobile and Pensacola, is seeing major flooding and severe, widespread damage, according to the county’s emergency management agency, which called it an extremely dangerous situation.

“If you are on high ground above flooded areas, being prepared to stay where you are may be the best protection,” it tweeted. 

Dangerous flooding is expected across the entire county, where rivers are rising quickly.

We are receiving lots of information about the damages and debris from Hurricane Sally. DO NOT attempt to travel along the roadways! Dangerous conditions still exist. #HurricaneSally #OBA @BaldwinEMA

— Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency (@BaldwinEMA) September 16, 2020


Florida Sen. Rubio: “This storm is going to cause extensive damage”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said early Wednesday that Sally is going to cause extensive damage, “but praying we don’t lose any lives.”

Pensacola is getting the worst of the storm surge and is seeing very serious flooding as Sally drops heavy rain, he said.

“Praying for everyone in Northwest #Florida & have already been in contact with federal officials making sure we are ready to provide any assistance needed,” he tweeted.

Stay safe #Pensacola.

Everyone stands ready to help as soon as the storm passes.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) September 16, 2020


Videos show Sally lashing Pensacola Beach

“CBS This Morning” lead national correspondent David Begnaud tweeted videos Wednesday morning showing Hurricane Sally’s winds and rain lashing Pensacola Beach.

“The wind is roaring as I take a first look from the balcony of our hotel,” he tweeted from the location, along Florida’s coast. 

Good morning. Hurricane Sally has arrived as a strong category two. Winds 110 miles per hour.

CAT 3 would be 111.

The wind is roaring as I take a first look from the balcony of our hotel.

— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 16, 2020

Another video showed Sally battering palm trees and inundating a parking lot with rainfall.


152,000 customers without power in Mobile area

Alabama Power, which provides electricity service to customers in the state, is reporting “significant damage” in the Mobile area and says 152,000 customers are without power. 

More than 268,000 customers across Alabama were without power as of early Wednesday morning, according to More than 190,000 customers in Florida had no power, while Mississippi and Alabama were seeing more than 70,000 outages combined.

Significant damage in Mobile area because of Hurricane Sally. 152,000 customers without power. Stay away from downed lines and flooded areas. Next update at 11 am.

— alabamapower (@alabamapower) September 16, 2020


24 inches of rain reported near Naval Air Station Pensacola

More than two feet of rain has been reported just west of Naval Air Station Pensacola, which is located along Florida’s Gulf Coast near its border with Alabama.

The National Weather Service in nearby Mobile, Alabama, noted it’s still raining in the area. 

“We just gusted to 82mph at our office in west Mobile,” it tweeted. PLEASE CONTINUE TO HUNKER DOWN, GULF COAST. THIS IS NOT OVER!! PLEASE STAY SAFE.”

☔630am – 24.80 inches of rainfall just west of NAS Pensacola so far and it is still raining there. OVER TWENTY FOUR INCHES. Thank you to everyone providing us reports throughout #Sally.

— NWS Mobile (@NWSMobile) September 16, 2020


Sally makes landfall at same spot as Hurricane Ivan in 2004

Jonathan Kegges, a meteorologist at CBS affiliate WKMG, notes that Hurricane Sally is making landfall at Gulf Shores, Alabama, which is the same spot that Hurrican Ivan came ashore on September 16, 2004. Ivan was a Category 3 storm, while Sally made landfall as a Category 2 storm. 


Hurricane Sally is making landfall in about the same spot as Hurricane Ivan did 16 years ago to the day. Ivan came ashore as a Cat. 3 hurricane in Gulf Shores, Al on Sept. 16 2004. #flwx #alwx

— Jonathan Kegges (@JonathanKegges) September 16, 2020


Flash flood emergency in Mobile and Pensacola

The National Weather Service Mobile, Alabama office has declared a Flash Flood Emergency for parts of the Mobile and Pensacola, Florida areas:

⚠️⚠️⚠️FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY- These warnings are issued for exceedingly rare situations when a severe threat to human life & catastrophic damage from a flash flood is happening.


— NWS Mobile (@NWSMobile) September 16, 2020

Police in Pensacola said, “Flooded roadways and intersections, along with hazardous debris in roadways have become too numerous to list. Please stay off the roadways now.”


Hundreds of thousands without power already

More than 350,000 homes and businesses were reported without power in Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi as conditions deteriorated with Hurricane Sally slowly approaching.

A website tracking electricity use nationwide,, reported those disruptions early Wednesday as Sally churned off the northern U.S. Gulf Coast.

Driving rain blew sideways and gusty winds buffeted street signs and trees.

In the Florida Panhandle city of Pensacola, water crept into downtown streets, forcing a utility truck to pass through the standing water. 



2 casino boats break loose in Alabama

Two large casino boats broke loose Tuesday from a dock where they were undergoing construction work in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. M.J. Bosarge, who lives near the shipyard, said at least one of the riverboats had done considerable damage to the dock.

“You really want to get them secured because with wind and rain like this, the water is constantly rising,” Bosarge said. “They could end up anywhere. There’s no telling where they could end up.”

CBS affiliate WKRG-TV said nobody was injured and tug boats were on the scene. The situation seemed under control, the station added.


Read More

Hurricane Sally

Hurricane Sally expected to bring historic flooding to Mississippi, Alabama, Florida Panhandle – Yale Climate Connections

Hurricane Sally image
The center of Hurricane Sally as seen from NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft “Miss Piggy” (N43RF) on Monday morning, September 14, 2020. No eyewall was present on the side of the storm photographed here. (Image credit: James Carpenter, NOAA)

Hurricane Sally weakened overnight to a category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds, but the slow-moving storm is expected to bring historic flooding to the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday through Thursday. A widespread area of 10 – 20 inches of rain is expected, with some pockets of 30 inches, accompanied by coastal storm surge flooding of four to seven feet.

Despite its category 1 ranking, Sally is extremely dangerous

At 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday, September 15, Sally was centered 105 miles south of Mobile, Alabama, headed northwest at 2 mph with top sustained winds of 80 mph and a central pressure of 982 mb. Wind gusts as high as 94 mph were observed late Tuesday morning at the VK 786/Petronius (Chevron) oil rig offshore from Mobile, Alabama (elevation 525 feet). On Monday, the site measured sustained winds of 100 mph, gusting to 117 mph.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Radar image of Hurricane Sally at 12:33 p.m. EDT Tuesday, September 15, 2020. Sally was struggling to close off an eyewall, with the southern side incomplete. (Image credit: Mark Nissenbaum/Florida State University)

Data from the Hurricane Hunters, satellite, and radar showed no significant changes to Sally’s organization over the 18 hours ending at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday. The hurricane was well-organized, but was having difficulty establishing a complete eyewall in the face of moderately high wind shear of 20 – 25 knots from upper-level winds out of the west. Sally was bringing heavy rains to the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, and Mississippi coasts on Tuesday. Radar-estimated rainfall amounts of 2 – 3 inches had fallen in the Florida Panhandle near Pensacola as of 2 p.m. EDT, with 1 – 2 inches common along the coast of Alabama.

Figure 2
Figure 2. GeoColor visible satellite image of Sally as of 12:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, September 15. (Image credit: RAMMB/CIRA/Colorado State University)

Forecast for Sally

Sally is caught in a region of very weak steering currents, and is expected to move very slowly at less than 5 mph until landfall occurs, which could be any time Tuesday night through Wednesday night. The exact location of Sally’s landfall will not matter that much with respect to its chief threats, which are rainfall and storm surge. A swath of the coast including Mississippi, Alabama, and the extreme western Florida Panhandle will receive the worst of Sally’s rains and storm surge regardless of the exact track of the center. Wind damage, however, will be of greatest concern near and to the right of where Sally’s center moves ashore.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Predicted landfall wind speed (colors) and sea level pressure (black lines) from the 12Z Tuesday, September 15 run of the HWRF model. The model predicted that Sally would make landfall near Mobile, Alabama, near 2 a.m. EDT (6Z) Wednesday as a category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

Sally has just about run out of time to build a complete eyewall and embark upon a period of rapid intensification. Increasing wind shear, upwelling of cool waters from below, and interaction with land will all be present between now and landfall to potentially put the brakes on any significant intensification burst that might occur; Sally’s landfall intensity is likely to be between 65 mph and 95 mph.

Figure 4
Figure 4. Rainfall forecast for the four days from 2 a.m. EDT Tuesday, September 15, to 2 a.m. EDT September 20, from the 6Z Tuesday run of the experimental HAFS-B model. Rainfall amounts in excess of 15 inches (yellow colors) were predicted in four states: Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. (Image credit: NOAA/AOML, with thanks to Andy Hazelton)

Rainfall and storm surge: the two main concerns with Sally

Regardless of its landfall intensity, the primary damage from Sally is likely to result from the slow-moving storm’s torrential rains. Sally is expected to move at 5 mph or less through Thursday, leading to rainfall measurements in feet rather than in inches.

Figure 5
Figure 5. Observed water levels in Mobile, Alabama. Sally has already brought a storm surge near the threshold for minor flooding during the past two high tide cycles, and is predicted to bring a peak storm surge of 4 – 7 feet. (Image credit: NOAA/AHPS)

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center has placed portions of the Gulf Coast in its “High Risk” category for excessive rainfall. It warned of rainfall rates of up to three inches per hour, and a large corridor of 10 – 20 inches of rain near the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and the extreme western Florida Panhandle, with isolated amounts up to 30 inches. There will be a sharp western cutoff to the heaviest rains, as shown in Figure 4, but the exact placement of that cutoff is still uncertain.

It’s not out of the question that an all-time state precipitation record for a tropical cyclone could fall, though these are tough to beat. The current records along Sally’s path are:

Florida: 45.20 inches (Hurricane Easy, 1950)

Mississippi: 32.21 inches (Hurricane Georges, 1998)

Alabama: 37.75 inches (Hurricane Danny, 1997)

Georgia: 27.85 inches (Tropical Storm Alberto, 1994)

Sally’s storm surge is also a major threat, with 4 – 7 feet of surge predicted to the east of where the center moves ashore. Mobile Bay is of particular concern given the high population density along the coast. The surge in the bay is not expected to approach that of Hurricane Katrina of 2005, which brought a storm tide 10.29 above the high tide mark, but flooding may exceed that of Hurricane Nate in October 8, 2017, which brought a storm tide of 5.22 feet.

Tidal range in Mobile, Alabama, is about two feet between low and high tide. The new moon occurs Thursday, and this helped bring one of the higher tides of the month during the 11:37 a.m. CDT Tuesday high tide. Subsequent high tides this week will be progressively lower, bottoming out on Friday about five inches lower than Tuesday’s high tide. High tide Wednesday is at 1:01 p.m. CDT, and at that time Mobile could see its greatest storm tide flooding. Storm tide is the combination of the storm surge and the tide.

Trabus Technologies maintains a live storm surge tracker for Sally. As of 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday, the peak surges measured at NOAA tide gauges from Sally were:

4.8 feet at Shell Beach, Louisiana (east-southeast of New Orleans)

3.8 feet at Pilottown, Louisiana (near the mouth of the Mississippi River)

3.2 feet at Waveland, Mississippi

3.2 feet at New Canal Station, Louisiana

2.7 feet at Apalachicola, Florida

A storm surge of approximately 3.5 feet had moved up the Mississippi River to New Orleans as of 1 p.m. EDT Tuesday, and it is predicted to peak at about 4.5 feet on Tuesday afternoon – a height about 10 feet below the tops of the levees.

Figure 6
Figure 6. GeoColor visible satellite image of the hectic Atlantic at 12 p.m. EDT Tuesday, September 15. (Image credit: RAMMB/CIRA/Colorado State University)

Paulette headed out to sea after a direct hit on Bermuda

Hurricane Paulette scored a direct hit on the island of Bermuda on Monday, with the hurricane’s 40-mile-wide eye encompassing virtually the entire island at 5 a.m. EDT. At landfall, Paulette was a category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds. The hurricane’s winds increased to 90 mph while Bermuda was in the eye; at 9 a.m. EDT, when the rear eyewall was pounding the island, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Paulette to a category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds. A weather station in Wreck Road, Bermuda, reported a sustained wind of 80 mph and a gust to 107 mph around 10 a.m. EDT Monday.

Paulette knocked out power to 25,000 of the 36,000 customers on Bermuda on Monday morning. By Tuesday morning, power had been restored to all but 6,000 customers, according to The Royal Gazette. No deaths or serious injuries were reported, though roads were blocked by debris and roof damage occurred.

At 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Paulette was a category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds, speeding to the northeast at 29 mph into the open Atlantic. Paulette has a chance to become a major category 3 storm with 115 mph winds on Tuesday night before increased wind shear and cooler waters induce a weakening trend on Wednesday.

Tropical Depression Rene gives up the ghost

Dry air and high wind shear finally destroyed Tropical Depression Rene on Monday afternoon, in the waters several hundred miles to the southeast of Bermuda.

Tropical Storm Teddy in the central Atlantic nearing hurricane strength

Tropical Storm Teddy, which formed in the central Atlantic on Monday, was headed west-northwest at 13 mph at 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday with top sustained winds of 65 mph.

Teddy is expected to turn to the northwest on Tuesday night, well before reaching the Lesser Antilles Islands. Large swells generated by Tropical Storm Teddy are expected to reach the Lesser Antilles and the northeastern coast of South America on Wednesday. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Conditions for intensification will be very favorable this week, and Teddy is predicted to be a major hurricane by Thursday night. Bermuda and the Canadian Maritime provinces should keep an eye on Teddy, as the storm could potentially affect them next week.

Tropical Storm Vicky in the Eastern Atlantic expected to dissipate

Tropical Storm Vicky formed on Monday in the eastern Atlantic, about 350 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. Prior to formation, the tropical wave that spawned Vicky brought deadly flooding to Praia, capital of the Cabo Verde Islands, where three inches of rain fell on September 12. The floods killed one person and caused substantial damage to infrastructure and agriculture.

At 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Vicky was headed west-northwest at 9 mph, with top sustained winds of 50 mph. Vicky will have highly unfavorable conditions for development through Wednesday, with sea surface temperatures near 26 Celsius (79°F) and extremely high wind shear of 45 – 60 knots. Vicky is expected to be a remnant low by Wednesday night and is not a threat to any land areas.

Figure 7
Figure 7. Track forecast for 98L from the 6Z Tuesday, September 15, run of the GFS ensemble forecast. The black line is the mean forecast from the 21 member forecasts. Several of the thin lines (color-coded by pressure) from the individual members predicted a potential threat to the Lesser Antilles Islands by the middle of next week. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

Eastern Atlantic tropical wave 98L has high potential to develop

A tropical wave that emerged from the coast of Africa on Monday was designated 98L by the National Hurricane Center. This wave has favorable conditions for development this week, with moderate wind shear of 10 – 20 knots predicted, along with warm ocean temperatures of 27.5 – 28.5 Celsius (82 – 83°F) and a moist atmosphere. The system has modest model support for development, and is predicted to move west to west-northwest at about 10 – 15 mph, reaching the Lesser Antilles Islands around Tuesday, September 22. It is too early to tell if 98L will affect the islands yet.

In its 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday Tropical Weather Outlook, the National Hurricane Center gave 98L two-day and five-day odds of development of 50% and 70%, respectively. The next name on the Atlantic list of storms is Wilfred, which is the last name on the list.

Keeping an eye on Gulf of Mexico disturbance

The National Hurricane Center on Tuesday was monitoring an area of interest over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, which was producing a few disorganized showers and thunderstorms. Some slow development is possible while this system meanders over the Gulf of Mexico this week. Dry air and high wind shear of 20 – 25 knots are likely to keep this system from developing, but this disturbance did have greater model support for development from Tuesday morning’s cycle of model runs than on previous days. In its 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday Tropical Weather Outlook, the National Hurricane Center gave the disturbance two-day and five-day odds of development of 10% and 20%, respectively.

A new northeast Atlantic threat area for Portugal to watch

A non-tropical low-pressure system was located on Tuesday afternoon over the far northeastern Atlantic, several hundred miles northeast of the Azores. This low was designated 99L by the National Hurricane Center and is forecast to move south-southeast during the week, approaching Portugal on Saturday.

This low has marginal conditions for development into a subtropical cyclone, with high wind shear of 20 – 40 knots predicted this week, along with cold ocean temperatures of 19 – 22 Celsius (66 – 72°F). In its 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday Tropical Weather Outlook, the National Hurricane Center gave 99L two-day and five-day odds of development of 10% and 20%, respectively.

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Posted on October 15, 2020 (3:52pm EDT).

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Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Laura leaves damage in Louisiana and weakens into tropical depression – CNBC

Hurricane Laura, after unleashing extensive damage in Louisiana, is now moving eastward as a tropical depression through Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama as forecasters warn of more dangerous weather over the weekend.

The hurricane left property damage, a hazardous chemical fire and at least six people dead in Louisiana on Thursday before moving north later in the night through Arkansas. Though the extent of the storm’s destruction is not clear, Louisiana and Texas officials signaled that the damage is less catastrophic than anticipated.

Packing 150 mph wind, Laura was the most powerful hurricane to strike Louisiana, surpassing even Katrina, a Category 3 storm that devastated the state in 2005. 

The day before Laura tore through Louisiana, authorities issued dire warnings that prompted more than a half-million people to evacuate in both states. 

Despite Laura hitting the land with such force, its forecast storm surge — expected to be “unsurvivable” at up to 20 feet high — ended up being about half as high in Louisiana. Forecasters said this was due in part to the storm moving quickly. 

“It is clear that we did not sustain and suffer the absolute catastrophic damage that we thought was likely based on the forecast that we had last night,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday afternoon. “But we have sustained a tremendous amount of damage. We have thousands and thousands of our fellow citizens whose lives are upside down.”

New tornado warnings were issued for Mississippi and Arkansas. Forecasters warned that Laura could reenergize and threaten several Northeast states by Saturday.

Areas in Louisiana and Texas are estimated to have suffered $8 billion to $12 billion in insured losses from Laura’s surge and high wind, but with residential and commercial property damages less than $500 million. The storm’s center struck more sparsely populated areas in the states, according to global property data and analytics provider CoreLogic.

“There is never a good place for a hurricane to make landfall. But this was the best possible outcome because it spared the major population centers of Houston and New Orleans,” said Curtis McDonald, CoreLogic meteorologist and senior product manager. 

President Donald Trump plans to visit the Gulf Coast over the weekend to tour the destruction.

Damage is seen from Hurricane Laura August 27, 2020 in Grand Lake, Louisiana. Hurricane Laura came ashore bringing rain and high winds to the southeast region of the state, reaching wind speeds of 150 mph and a 9-12 feet storm surge.

Eric Thayer | Getty Images

The environmental damage 

Hurricanes are becoming more frequent and destructive because of climate change, and the storm drew fresh attention to the dozens of petrochemical plants and hazardous sites in Louisiana that were in Laura’s path. It renewed fears about the potential for environmental damage and stoked health concerns. 

Laura moved through major industrial areas in Louisiana and Texas, including the Lake Charles area, which has major chemical plants, and Port Authur Texas, home to North America’s largest oil refinery.

The fire at the chemical plant BioLab, which manufactures chemicals used in household cleaners and chlorine for pools, released chlorine gas into the air on Thursday and prompted the governor to order people to shelter in place and turn off air conditioning. The fire was extinguished Thursday night. 

In the U.S., people who live the closest to major industrial zones that threaten to release toxic chemicals during storms tend to be poor and communities of color. 

“A climate-fueled storm causes a chemical plant fire which spews more emissions which fuels more climate change,” climate journalist Emily Atkin said in a tweet about the plant fire. “Our environmental crises fuel each other.”

When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas and Louisiana in 2017, it caused catastrophic flooding that inundated chemical plants and oil refineries and released deadly carcinogens into Houston neighborhoods. Now, some communities in Houston have experienced higher levels of childhood leukemia because of the higher concentration of chemicals in the air. 

Laura was the seventh named storm to hit the U.S. this year, setting a record for U.S. landfalls before the end of August. The Atlantic hurricane season, on track to be the worst ever in part because of warmer ocean waters, is not over.

The season, which officially runs until the end of November, is expected to bring nine to 25 named storms to the U.S., with seven to 11 of those storms developing into hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

An abandoned car sits in standing after Hurricane Laura made landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border near Lake Charles, Louisiana on August 27, 2020.

Callaghan OHare | The Washington Post via Getty Images

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Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Laura strikes Louisiana as Category 4 storm, battering Lake Charles area and bringing flood threat – The Washington Post

The storm, which leaped from a Category 1 hurricane on Tuesday to a high-end Category 4 on Wednesday night, packed 150 mph peak winds when it crossed the coast. The storm weakened and was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane Thursday morning as it headed northward, but it still had sustained winds of more than 100 mph.

Heavy rain was predicted to be widespread across the west-central Gulf Coast with five to 10 inches falling over a broad area, and locally up to 18 inches, leading to flash flooding.

The latest developments:

  • Lake Charles, La., had issued mandatory evacuations on Wednesday. There was major damage to buildings in the city’s downtown area, which endured the brunt of the storm’s eyewall.
  • The National Weather Service issued an “extreme wind warning” from Beaumont and Port Arthur in Texas to coastal southwest Louisiana for destructive hurricane-force winds. Cameron, La., clocked a wind gust to 116 mph, while Lake Charles, La. recorded a gust to 132 mph.
  • Laura’s rate of intensification between Tuesday and Wednesday tied for the fastest on record in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The Hurricane Center said storm surge inundation could be “unsurvivable,” affecting areas up 40 miles inland from the coast in southwest Louisiana and that floodwaters may not fully recede for several days after the storm. As of 5 a.m., a surge over 9 feet had been observed in parts of coastal southwest Louisiana.

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Douglas Hurricane

Hurricane Douglas: Hawaii prepares for high winds, rain and storm surge – The Guardian

Hawaii prepared for Hurricane Douglas on Sunday, with predictions of high winds, rain and storm surge.
Its definitely going to be a triple threat, said National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist V…
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Hanna Hurricane

Live Hurricane Hanna Tracking Map – The New York Times

Hurricane Hanna is expected to make landfall Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane on the southern coast of Texas about 50 miles south of Corpus Christi.




Tropical storm

Forecasted path

Note: Times on the map are shown in Central Time. Source: National Hurricane Center

The storm is the first to reach hurricane strength in this year’s Atlantic season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. It is expected to bring harsh winds and rain to Corpus Christi and the surrounding area.

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Douglas Hurricane

Hurricane Douglas, the strongest storm on the planet, moves toward Hawaii – CNN

(CNN)Major Hurricane Douglas is the strongest storm on the planet right now and it’s approaching Hawaii. The storm is a category 3 hurricane, packing dangerous winds of 120 mph that extend 25 miles from the center of the storm, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. A major hurricane is any storm ranked category 3 — winds 111 to 129 mph — or stronger.

“The Hawaiian Islands should monitor the progress of Douglas,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) says. “There is an increasing chance that strong winds, dangerous surf, and heavy rainfall could affect portions of the state beginning Saturday night or Sunday.”
Tropical storm-force winds are forecast to arrive on the Big Island as early as Saturday evening local time.
The storm is 895 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii and is moving west-northwest directly toward the island chain. The good news is this major hurricane is forecast to begin weakening today as it interacts will cooler water and drier air.
Douglas is expected to be a category 1 — winds 74 to 95 mph — hurricane as it approaches the islands this weekend.
It is likely to weaken even more as it approaches Hawaii and will quickly transition to a tropical storm as it moves over the state.
Some forecast models take the storm directly over the Big Island, some thread the needle between the islands and others take the storm just north of the island chain.
It is important to not focus on the center of the forecast track but know that the storm could hit anywhere within the forecast cone issued by the NHC.
“It is fairly common for hurricanes to track towards Hawaii, but they usually dissipate or at least weaken considerably before impacting the islands,” Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University, said. “For example, both Lane and Olivia impacted Hawaii in 2018. Also, in 2016, both Lester and Madeline threatened Hawaii.”
Although a hurricane’s effects on Hawaii can be severe, it is rare for major hurricanes to reach the island chain’s shores. For one, the Hawaiian Islands are a small plot of land amongst the world’s largest ocean basin, making the statistical probability of a direct landfall very low.
Hawaii covers 6,423 square miles of land divided up among six main islands, making the chance of a direct landfall even less likely. Florida, by comparison, is a significantly easier target for hurricanes to strike as it covers more than 50,000 square miles.

Slow start to the East Pacific hurricane season

In a season that has seen early storm formation in the Atlantic, the eastern Pacific has been slower for storm development than in previous years.
“During the period of reliable records, this is the 4th latest date in which the first hurricane of the season has formed,” according to the NHC.
A slow Pacific hurricane season, especially when paired with an active Atlantic hurricane season, is a sign of a La Niña event, which forecasters have predicted could occur this year.
Under La Niña, global convection wind currents yield sinking air over the eastern Pacific, and rising air over the western Atlantic. Sinking air patterns increase wind shear, a sudden shift in wind direction, speed or both, which can rip apart hurricanes before they have a chance to grow. Rising air creates a favorable environment for tropical storm development, which is why all eyes are on the Atlantic this season.​​​

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