Tracking the Tropics: Sally strengthens, becomes Cat 1 hurricane as it approaches northern Gulf Coast


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Sally reached hurricane strength on Monday, becoming the seventh hurricane of 2020.

Hurricane Sally is just one of several systems churning in an extremely active Atlantic basin. We’re also keeping an eye on Hurricane Paulette, Tropical Storm Teddy, Tropical Storm Vicky and Tropical Depression Rene as well as disturbance and a tropical wave that is expected to emerge off the coast of Africa in the coming days.

Here are the latest updates on the systems being tracked:

Hurricane Sally

Sally is rapidly gaining strength as it moves slowly over the north Central Gulf and reached Category 1 hurricane strength around noon on Monday.

As of 2 p.m. ET, the storm has maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. It’s about 125 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The storm is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds and flash flooding to the northern Gulf Coast in the coming days. It could dump 8 to 16 inches of rain on the central Gulf Coast with isolated amounts of 24 inches.

The latest forecast from the NHC says Sally will continue to move over the north-central Gulf of Mexico before approaching southeastern Louisiana Monday night.

Landfall is expected to happen along the Gulf Coast Tuesday or Tuesday night.

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:

  • Port Fourchon Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida Border
  • Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Lake Borgne
  • Mobile Bay

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Morgan City Louisiana to the Mississippi/Alabama Border
  • Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas including metropolitan New

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • Mississippi/Alabama Border to Indian Pass Florida
  • Intracoastal City Louisiana to west of Morgan City

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:

  • Mississippi/Alabama Border to the Alabama/Florida Border

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • Indian Pass to Ochlockonee River Florida

Hurricane Paulette

Paulette reached Category 2 strength as it started moving away from Bermuda Monday morning. It was still battering the island with hurricane-force winds and torrential rains.

As of 2 p.m., the storm has maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and is about 115 miles north of Bermuda. It’s moving north-northeast at about 13 mph. Forecasters expert Paulette to turn toward the northeast Monday night before turning toward the east-northeast Tuesday.

The Bermuda Weather Service dropped the Hurricane Warning that was in effect in Bermuda Monday afternoon and replaced it with a Tropical Storm Warning.

Tropical Depression Rene

As of 2 p.m. ET, Rene is still hanging on as a tropical depression with 30 mph maximum sustained winds, according to the NHC. Rene is expected to weaken and become a remnant low Monday night before dissipating by late Wednesday.

The system is stationary about 1,120 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands. The NHC says Rene should start moving toward the west-southwest again Monday. It will continue on that track until it dissipates.

Tropical Storm Teddy

Tropical Storm Teddy formed in the Atlantic Monday morning from Tropical Depression 20 and is forecast to reach hurricane strength later this week, the National Hurricane Center said. Teddy is the earliest “T” named storm on record in the Atlantic basin.

Teddy has maximum wind speeds of 40 mph as of 2 p.m. ET, according to the NHC. It’s about 1,250 miles east of the Lesser Antilles and moving west at about 14 mph.

The tropical storm is expected to strengthen steadily in the coming days and become a hurricane by Tuesday night, the NHC says.

Tropical Storm Vicky

Tropical Depression 21 strengthened into Tropical Storm Vicky Monday morning, but it is expected to be a short-lived system.

The storm has 45 mph maximum sustained winds as of 2 p.m. Monday and is about 350 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. It’s moving northwest at about 6 mph and is expected to turn toward the northwest more Monday night.

Vicky is the twentieth named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. There is now only one name left on this year’s list of hurricane names: Wilfred.

Once this year’s list of names runs out, storms will start being named after the letters in the Greek alphabet. The last year we reached the Greek alphabet was in 2005.

Other areas to watch

Forecasters are also watching an area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico and a tropical wave that emerged off the coast of Africa Monday.

The disturbance in the Gulf is a broad area of low pressure that’s producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms with a low chance of development. The NHC says upper-level winds will not be very conducive for the system to develop. Any potential development would happen slowly as the system moves southwestward, forecasters say.

The tropical wave being monitored is over the far eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean producing disorganized shower and thunderstorm activity.

“Environmental conditions appear to be conducive for slow development of the system this week as it moves westward at 10 to 15 mph,” the NHC’s 2 p.m. outlook said.

The wave has been given a low 20 percent chance of formation through the next 48 hours and a medium 50 percent chance of formation through the next five days.


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