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Sally rapidly intensifies into a hurricane

Sally Now a Hurricane
Sally Now a Hurricane(WTOK)
Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 11:27 AM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - NOAA Hurricane Hunters have discovered winds of 90 mph with Sally, making the storm a hurricane. Sally rapidly intensified from 65 mph winds at 10 a.m. to 90 mph winds at 11:30 a.m.

OVERVIEW: At 10 a.m, Sally was still a tropical storm with winds of 65 mph. By 11 a.m, Sally had rapidly intensified into a hurricane with winds of 85 mph. Sustained winds were then bumped up to 90 mph. As of the 1 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, Sally still has 90 mph sustained winds. It is expected to make landfall along the eastern Mississippi Gulf Coast as a strong category 2 hurricane with winds around 105 mph.

LOCAL IMPACTS: With the center of the storm moving farther east of our area, the chances of seeing brief tornado look close to zero. Heavy rain will also help limit instability and thus limit the tornado potential. I’m not too concerned about the tornado threat, but if things change I’ll let you know.

Heavy rain and flash flooding will be our biggest concern. The rainfall total forecast will be a tricky one because it is all going to depend on where the center of Sally ends up. Right now, I am calling for 2-8″ of rainfall with some locally higher amounts possible.

Rainfall totals will generally decrease from the southeast to the northwest; in other words, the farther you are away from the center of Sally, the lower your rainfall totals. For example, here is a look a one reliable model run for rainfall totals through Thursday. Notice the sharp cut-off between the higher amounts in Meridian and then the lower amounts in Philadelphia and Newton, for example.

Forecast Rainfall Totals
Forecast Rainfall Totals(WTOK)

This kind of rain, especially in West Alabama and southern portions of Mississippi, will lead to flash flooding. Rainfall coverage will begin to pick up along the Highway 84 corridor by Tuesday afternoon and gradually spread northward overnight and into early Wednesday morning. Conditions will improve throughout the day on Wednesday.

Winds could start gusting up to 40-45 mph as early as the mid-afternoon tomorrow along the Highway-84 corridor. Those stronger winds will gradually move northward into the overnight hours. Windy conditions will improve from south to north throughout the day on Wednesday.

UNCERTAINTY IN THE FORECAST: The forecast models have shown an eastward trend in the track of Sally. If this continues, that would be good news for our area. HOWEVER, Sally had rapidly intensified earlier this morning. If that trend were to continue, we would have a stronger storm and possibly a larger wind field at landfall. This means that the improvements that we will see from the more easterly track would be canceled out by a stronger and more larger storm. The bottom line is that this forecast is still likely to change and is in no means set in stone. Please keep up to date with the latest forecast!!!

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