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Sally threatens the Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm Sally 7 a.m. Sep 14
Tropical Storm Sally 7 a.m. Sep 14(WTOK)
Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 4:34 AM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - UPDATE: As of the 7 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Tropical Storm Sally has sustained winds of 65 mph. The next forecast track from the NHC will be issued around 10 a.m. today.

PREVIOUS DISCUSSION BELOW:

OVERVIEW: As of the 4 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Tropical Storm Sally has sustained winds of 60 mph. The storm is forecast to strengthen to a hurricane later today as it slowly approaches the Gulf of Mexico.

The latest official track from the NHC has shifted a bit to the east. This means the center of Sally may not cross over Louisiana, but instead it could make a first landfall along the Mississippi Gulf Coast Tuesday night. Sustained winds at landfall are forecast to be around 85-90 mph. The storm will quickly weaken once on land and move into Alabama Wednesday night as a tropical depression.

LOCAL IMPACTS: We’ll see scattered showers and storms on Monday, mainly south of I-20. Rain and storm chances will pick up from south to north throughout the day on Tuesday. Heavy rainfall will overspread our area by Tuesday night and into Wednesday. Rainfall will begin to diminish late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.

We could see up to 4-8 inches of rainfall during this time frame. Some locally higher amounts will be possible. Some spots, especially north of I-20, could see lower amounts. This will lead to flash flooding in places and this threat will be our greatest concern going forward. The heaviest rain looks to fall on Wednesday.

Sally will weaken into a tropical depression by the time the center gets to our area on Wednesday. Winds will be sustained between 25 and 35 mph, but winds could still gust as high as 50 mph. The windiest conditions will be on Wednesday.

An isolated brief and weak tornado or two cannot be ruled out mainly Tuesday night and Wednesday. However, heavy rainfall will limit the instability over our area and thus limit the tornado threat overall.

UNCERTAINTY IN THE FORECAST: Sally is a slow-moving storm. These slow movers are always a pain to forecast, and Tropical Storm Sally will be no different. Questions remain on just how strong Sally will get before making landfall. I’m not expecting it to reach Hurricane Laura strength, but it could be a stronger storm at landfall than what the NHC is forecasting. There is also a chance Sally only stays a tropical storm throughout its journey across the Gulf.

The track of Sally has shifted eastward compared to the past couple of days. A Mississippi landfall now looks likely, but there is still time for a track shift either west or east. If Sally goes eastward enough, our area could potentially be on the calmer side of the storm and our local impacts will be lower. The bottom line is that this forecast is still subject to change as a lot of uncertainty remains. So please keep up to date with the latest forecast!

REST OF THE WEEK: Rain chances will decrease from south to north on Thursday as Sally pulls away from our area. Cooler and drier air will filter in behind it. Highs on Thursday will be around 80 degrees. We’ll see mostly cloudy skies on Friday with highs in the mid-80s and a chance of a stray shower.

A beautiful weekend is in store for our area. We’ll see lots of sunshine both Saturday and Sunday. Morning lows will drop into the low-60s both mornings; however, some spots may even drop into the 50s! Highs on Saturday and Sunday will be in the upper-70s to low-80s.

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