Home Life Hurricane Sally threatens to bring ‘historic’ flooding to Gulf Coast

Hurricane Sally threatens to bring ‘historic’ flooding to Gulf Coast

1
0


Less than a month after Hurricane Laura, Tropical Storm Sally strengthens to a hurricane as it heads toward southeastern Louisiana.

USA TODAY

KILN, Miss. — Hurricane Sally was creeping closer to the Gulf Coast on Tuesday night, with the slow-moving storm expected to bring heavy rains and “historic life-threatening flooding” from southeastern Louisiana to Florida’s Panhandle, forecasters say.

Tropical-storm-force winds were spreading onshore by Tuesday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said, adding that the center of the storm would “make landfall in the hurricane warning area early Wednesday.”

Sally, which ramped up to a Category 2 storm Monday but has since weakened to Category 1, was 65 miles south-southeast of Mobile, Alabama, and 60 miles southwest of Pensacola, Florida, at 10 p.m. CDT. The storm, traveling at just 2 mph, had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.

“It’s going to be a huge rainmaker,” said Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist and meteorologist at Colorado State University. “It’s not going to be pretty.”

Hurricane Sally travel issues: United, Delta, American, Southwest, Spirit, JetBlue issue flight waivers

While forecasters say it’s still too early to determine exactly where Sally will come ashore, its dangers will be felt for miles with hurricane warnings in effect from east of Bay St. Louis, Louisiana, to Navarre, Florida.

Sally is expected to be a dangerous hurricane when it moves onshore along the north-central Gulf Coast, the Hurricane Center warned.

“There is going to be historic flooding along with the historic rainfall,” Stacy Stewart, a senior specialist with the Hurricane Center, said Tuesday. “If people live near rivers, small streams and creeks, they need to evacuate and go somewhere else.”

The Hurricane Center said the storm’s center will continue to move slowly to the northwest and north on Tuesday as it nears the coast of southeastern Louisiana. It will then turn northeast as it comes ashore and continues to trudge across the Southeast later in the week.

Forecasters say Sally could bring 10 to 20 inches of rain from the Florida Panhandle to southeast Mississippi, with some isolated pockets of rain up to 30 inches. The rain along and just inland of the coast could bring “historic life-threatening flash flooding” through Wednesday, the Hurricane Center said.

Up to seven feet of storm surge was also forecast across Alabama’s coastline from the Mississippi border to Florida border, forecasters said.

Isolated tornadoes could also occur Wednesday across portions of the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama, according to the Hurricane Center.

As it moves inland, Sally could also dump up to a foot of rain along pockets of southeastern Mississippi, southern and central Alabama, northern Georgia and the western Carolinas.

President Donald Trump issued emergency declarations for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Monday. “Be ready and listen to State and Local Leaders!” Trump tweeted.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, along the western part of the Panhandle, which already was being pummeled with rain from Sally’s outer bands.

Outside Pensacola, Quietwater Beach was completely underwater and county public works employees could be seen wading through knee-high water to secure trash cans and other items. The Pensacola Bay Bridge also closed Tuesday morning amid wind and rain, and over the course of the day, it is likely that more and more routes to coastal communities will be cut off.

In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey also issued a state of an emergency closing Alabama’s beaches. The causeway to Dauphin Island, which was already flooding, was closed, and downtown Mobile was nearly deserted. Ivey warned residents living along the Gulf, especially south of Interstate 10 or in low-lying areas, to evacuate if conditions permit.

“This is not worth risking your life,” Ivey said during a news conference Tuesday.

Sally had threatened to batter New Orleans, where thousands of evacuees from Hurricane Laura were staying, but turned east over the past day. Laura devastated much of southwestern Louisiana after it roared ashore as a Category 4 storm, the first major hurricane of the 2020 season.

In Mississippi, Hurricane Katrina was on the minds of some residents preparing for Sally’s deluge.

Sabrina Young of Bay St. Louis was at the Kiln shelter Monday. It was the first of several to open around the region as evacuations of low-lying areas began. 

“(The people will) be coming but it will be too late,” she said. “They’ll have the bare necessities. I did that with Katrina – the clothes on our backs and that was it. I don’t want to be in that situation again.” 

Others appeared unsure what to do and planned to ride out the storm at home. Kenneth Belcher of Ocean Springs said he’s worried about the storm but has little choice other than to stay at his apartment. 

“They say it’s going to be a bad one,” Belcher said. “They said 15, 20, 30 inches are going to fall. We got lucky with (Hurricane) Laura, but this one looks like it’s coming to us.”

Some Gulf Coast residents in Mississippi were taking Sally’s approach in stride.

“I’m from here,” said Kristen Gard of Gulfport. “We’ve been through it all. Well, I have – not them,” she said, referring to her two children playing on the beach in Gulfport.

Seven houses from the beach, the Bourgeois home is 30 feet above sea level and 12 feet off the ground. ”We love it here,” Sue Bourgeois said. “We didn’t leave for Katrina. It’s God’s will.”

The storms are part of a particularly active hurricane season in the Atlantic, with Monday marking the second time ever that forecasters tracked five tropical cyclones simultaneously in the Atlantic basin. None other than Sally were forecast to hit the continental U.S. this week.

Scientists say human-caused climate change has made hurricanes stronger and rainier in recent years with warmer air and water in the oceans. Rising sea levels from climate change also can make storm surge higher and more damaging.

Contributing: Annie Blanks and Kevin Robinson, Pensacola News Journal; Chanukah Christie and Sarah Ann Dueñas, Montgomery Advertiser; Lici Beveridge, Luke Ramseth, Alissa Zhu, Mississippi Clarion Ledger; and The Associated Press

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Last SlideNext Slide

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/09/15/hurricane-sally-forecast-bring-historic-flooding-gulf-coast/5801627002/





Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here