Hurricane Sally underwent rapid intensification on Monday posing a an even larger threat to the Southeast Coast than previously thought. In the matter of just a couple of hours on Monday morning, Sally strengthened from a tropical storm with 65 mph peak winds to a category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained wind speeds of 100 mph and is still showing signs of further intensification as of Monday evening. The storm also decelerated significantly through the day on Monday now moving toward the coast at only 3 mph. As the storm sits a mere 100 miles off the Mississippi and Alabama coasts, the slow propagation makes this a particularly dangerous situation.
The storm is now close enough to the mainland that it is already bringing steady rainfall to the western Florida panhandle and is beginning to flood areas along coastlines from New Orleans to Panama City. However, Sally, due to its slow progress, isn’t forecast to make landfall until early Wednesday morning. The rain and storm surge will continue and will worsen as the storm approaches the coast. It is forecast to make landfall in the vicinity of Mobile, Alabama as a category 2 hurricane with peak winds potentially strengthening to 110 mph.
The storm is expected to bring 10 or more inches of rainfall to areas several miles inland; upwards of 20 inches is possible in areas right along the coast. Storm surge could exceed 10 feet in coastal areas. Hurricane warnings have been issued for the southeast Louisiana coast as well as the Mississippi and Alabama coasts and the portion of the western Florida panhandle. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama have declared states of emergency.