Tropical Storm Sally is expected to make landfall near New Orleans, United States on Tuesday morning after strengthening to Category Hurricane.
Officials have issued a warning from Morgan City, Louisiana, east to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas.
Storm surges of up to 7 to 11 feet are possible near the center of the storm and just east of where landfall is expected. Along with storm surge, extreme rainfall amounts of over a foot are expected in some locations between southeast Louisiana and the western Florida panhandle.
Tropical Storm Sally is the 18th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
Flash flood watches are in effect along the Gulf Coast across much of southern Louisiana, east to the Florida Panhandle, and along the western Florida peninsula. These watches include the city of New Orleans, Biloxi, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, and Panama City and Tampa, Florida.
Sally is expected to slow in speed as it approaches the Gulf Coast which will result in significant flash flooding across the region. It is now moving across the Gulf of Mexico with sustained winds of 60 mph.. Widespread rainfall totals of 6 to 12 inches is expected along the Gulf Coast through Wednesday; however, isolated totals up to 20 inches is not out of the question.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Saturday evening ahead of Tropical Storm Sally.
In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents outside of the city’s levee protection system. The evacuation will begin Sunday at 6 p.m. for the areas of Venetian Isles, Irish Bayou and Lake Catherine.
Most forecast models have Sally moving toward the northern Gulf Coast and likely making landfall somewhere between New Orleans and Panama City by late Monday or Tuesday, however if the track shifts farther west or slows down, landfall may hold off until Wednesday.
“The cyclone will likely become a hurricane in 2 to 3 days, although an increase in vertical shear could slow the rate of intensification over the northern Gulf of Mexico,” according to the National Hurricane Center.