Hurricane Sally continues to wander through the northern Gulf of Mexico, trudging toward the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Conditions will gradually deteriorate Tuesday prior to landfall Tuesday night/early Wednesday. Sally is already producing heavy rainfall and tropical storm force winds (39 to 73 mph) from Alabama to western Florida, with hurricane-force winds setting in later Tuesday afternoon into the evening.
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has been suspending ship-to-shore operations at many ports over the past two days. The latest closures are the ports of Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Plaquemines, South Louisiana, St. Bernard and the Venice complex, all in Louisiana.
Even though Sally’s winds will not get much stronger, it will be a dangerous hurricane. Because it is slow moving — its forward speed has dwindled to just 2 mph — prolonged torrential rainfall, along with storm surge, will lead to major flooding. Potential roadblocks are possible along the Interstate 10 corridor and portions of other interstates and secondary routes.
Sally could generate up to 10 feet of storm surge and 20 inches or more of rainfall in some spots, leading to what the NHC describes as potential “historic flooding” and “extreme life-threatening flash flooding.”
A hurricane warning remains in place from east of the mouth of the Pearl River to Navarre, Florida, with a tropical storm warning from the mouth of the Pearl River westward to Grand Isle, Louisiana. This includes Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and the New Orleans metropolitan area.
A storm surge warning is in effect for Mobile Bay, as well as from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Okaloosa-Walton County line in Florida.
After landfall, Sally will weaken. However, the storm could produce heavy rainfall and flash flooding from central Alabama to northern Georgia Thursday and Friday.