These Maps Show Where Storm Sally Could Hit Hardest

Less than three weeks after Hurricane Laura ravaged parts of Louisiana and Texas with winds of up to 150 mph, the US Gulf Coast is bracing to be hit by storm Sally, expected to strengthen to a hurricane by Monday.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Saturday. “Louisiana suffered a devastating blow when Hurricane Laura came ashore as the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in Louisiana history, leaving a trail of destruction in its path,” Edwards said in a statement. “This, when combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, can make us all weary. I implore Louisianans to take their preparations seriously.”

Sally is currently projected to make landfall late on Monday or early Tuesday. In contrast to Laura’s extreme winds, the main threat is expected to be major flooding, with storm surges of up to 11 feet at the coast and strong downpours from New Orleans to the Florida Panhandle.

Forecast track and rain in the next 7 days

Times shown are US Eastern Time. Peter Aldhous / BuzzFeed News / Via NOAA/NWS

“Sally is expected to produce rainfall of 8 to 16 inches with isolated amounts of 24 inches over portions of the central Gulf Coast,” the National Hurricane Center warned on Sunday.

Sally is a relatively slow moving storm, which will increase the danger of flash flooding from heavy rain — especially in more developed urban areas, where it’s harder for water to drain away. In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey stalled over southern Texas, dumping more than 60 inches in some places and smashing US rainfall records. The hurricane ultimately caused upwards of $125 billion in damages.

Storm surge warnings and watches

Peter Aldhous / BuzzFeed News / Via NOAA/NWS

This updating map shows the coastal areas currently facing storm surge warnings and watches. On Sunday, the National Hurricane Center predicted the largest surges, between 7 and 11 feet, would occur between the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana and Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Forecast track and wind probabilities

Times shown are US Eastern Time. Peter Aldhous / BuzzFeed News / Via NOAA/NWS

This updating map shows the predicted track and forecast winds from the storm. Use the control to toggle between the likelihood of tropical-storm-force winds (more than 39 mph) and hurricane-force winds (more than 74 mph).

Sally is the earliest “S”-named storm to form in the Atlantic basin, beating 2005’s Stan, which wasn’t named until October 5. But while this year is on track to eclipse 2005 as the busiest hurricane season on record for named storms, many of those storms have been of relatively low intensity. According to the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University, the accumulated energy of this year’s Atlantic cyclones is running close to the average from 1981 to 2010.

See the National Hurricane Center’s advisories for more information and warnings.

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