A trotting but mighty Hurricane Sally crept toward the Gulf Coast early Tuesday. Forecasters warned of potentially “historic” floods from “deadly storm surges” and “extremely life-threatening flash floods” that were triggered by up to two and a half feet of rain – as well as the possibility of tornadoes. The threat of dramatically heavy rains and storm surges of up to three meters was compounded by the slow movement of the storm.
More than 17 million people were Sally on the way. Hundreds of kilometers of coastline are under storm watches and warnings. The warnings extended from east of the mouth of the Pearl River to Navarra, Florida.
Sally hit hurricane strength on Monday and quickly turned into a Category 2 storm with 1
At 5 a.m. EDT, the storm had sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, a Category 1. However, the National Hurricane Center said, “Some reinforcement is expected to kick in early today and Sally is expected to be a dangerous hurricane if it moves ashore along the north central Gulf Coast.”
CBS News weather producer David Parkinson said the storm would “land as Category 1” on Wednesday late morning / early afternoon.
Sally was about 60 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi and 115 miles south-southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi, barely moving from west to northwest at 2 miles per hour.
The hurricane center said: “On the forecast route, the center of Sally will move near the coast in southeast Louisiana later today and land in the hurricane warning area this evening or Wednesday morning.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared an emergency in the westernmost counties of the Panhandle, which was hit by rain from Sally’s outer bands early Tuesday.
President Trump made emergency statements for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Monday and urged residents on Twitter to listen to state and local leaders.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey moved for the president’s explanation after the National Meteorological Service in Mobile, Alabama warned of the increasing likelihood of “dangerous and potentially historic floods” affecting the water in parts of the subway area Mobile rose up to 9 feet above the ground.
Louisiana flood control authorities remained vigilant, closing gates along waterway networks that the potential rise of the gulf could push over their banks.
The southwestern part of the state was hit by Hurricane Laura on August 27, and an estimated 2,000 evacuees from that storm were accommodated in New Orleans, mostly in hotels.
It all seemed a distant threat on Monday afternoon in Waveland, Mississippi, when a shirtless, barefoot Trevor Claunch from nearby Bay St. Louis was on the beach at the last minute. But there were signs of anger. Claunch was amazed at how the golf water had already sneaked over sandy beaches and infiltrated bike paths and parking lots.
Others took the storm seriously despite the sunny skies. Coastal casinos have been closed on orders from the Mississippi Gaming Commission. All casinos are either on or near the water. Meanwhile, motorists filled a parking lot at a supermarket in Ocean Springs, Mississippi as they filled gas tanks and stocked up on ice cream, beer, and snacks.
According to forecasters, Monday was only the second time that five tropical cyclones swirled in the Atlantic basin at the same time. The last time was in 1971. None of the others were expected to threaten the US this week, if at all, and one was downgraded to a low pressure pan on Monday night.
The extraordinarily busy hurricane season – like the disastrous forest fire season on the west coast – has drawn attention to the role of climate change.
Scientists say global warming makes the most powerful hurricane, winds of 110 miles per hour or more, even stronger. Also, warmer air holds more moisture, which makes storms more rainy, and rising seas due to global warming make storm surges higher and more damaging.
Additionally, scientists have seen tropical storms and hurricanes slow down once they hit the United States by about 17% since 1900. This gives them the ability to dump more rain over one location, like Hurricane Harvey 2017 did in Houston.