CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Located 110 miles south-southeast of Mobile, Alabama, Hurricane Sally is producing sustained winds up 85 mph as it crawls west at a mere 2 mph.
Sally will continue to close in on the Northern Gulf Coast today before making landfall late tonight or early Wednesday as a category 1 hurricane near Alabama’s Gulf Shores. Storm surge and flash flooding will be the most prominent threat as Sally moves inland over the next 48 hours.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The highest estimates call for 4 to 7 feet of storm surge near Mobile Bay.
The slow-moving system is also expected to produce 10 to 20 inches of rainfall with isolated amounts of 30 inches over portions of the central Gulf Coast from the western Florida Panhandle to far southeastern Mississippi through the middle of the week.
Sally’s slow speeds will create the potential for flash flooding north of the Gulf Coast as well. Portions of the Deep South could receive up to 8 inches by Wednesday evening. As the storm remnants tract southeast, rain chances will also surge across the Carolinas.
The outer bands will lead to an increase in cloud cover and the arrival of light showers by late Wednesday. While timing of the heaviest rainfall will largely depend on Sally’s interaction with land tomorrow, we’re expecting tropical downpours to spread across the area as early Thursday and continuing into Friday before drier conditions return into the weekend.
Rainfall forecasts currently call for 3 to 6+ inches of rainfall by Saturday across the WBTV viewing area.
Heavy downpours over a short period of time will create the potential for flashing flooding Thursday and Friday. It should also be mentioned, there’s also a low-end threat for gusty wind and weak tornadoes.
- Meteorologist Jonathan Stacey