First Alert: Sally strengthens to Category 2 hurricane

First Alert: Sally strengthens to Category 2 hurricane
Sally is now much better organized than this morning and has strengthened to a stout Category 2 hurricane. (Source: WDAM)

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - Hurricane Sally continues to slow down as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast. It is now much better organized than this morning and has strengthened to a stout Category 2 hurricane.

It is now forecast to be a Category 2 hurricane when it makes landfall somewhere along the Louisiana or Mississippi coastline.

What to expect:

The clouds will continue to race across the sky for t he next few days. During the next 48 hours, conditions will deteriorate slowly as Sally gets closer to South Mississippi.

Rain bands will slowly move into the area with heavy rain and gusty wind. While Sally is forecast to be a hurricane, the Pine Belt is not likely to experience hurricane conditions. The worst of the weather will be relegated to the coast and within about 15 to 20 miles of the coast where landfall occurs.

Instead, the Pine Belt can expect tropical storm conditions; a lot of rain, some gusty wind and the potential for a few tropical tornadoes.

The amount of rain, wind and the threat for tornadoes will be highly dependent on the specific track, though. That is still an unknown due to Sally’s slow forward speed and anticipated turn.

Because of all of this, we also expect power outages to occur, especially closer to the coast.

Timing:

The off-and-on rain and wind will continue through the overnight hours Monday night and through Tuesday and Wednesday as it appears right now. Heavy rain and gusty wind are the two main concerns. The threat for tornadoes will develop slowly, depending on the track of the system.

This may be a long-term, multi-day event for our area. While it may not be raining non-stop, when rain bands do move through your area, they will bring with them heavy rain, gusty wind and the potential for a tropical tornado.

Threats:

Heavy rain, gusty wind and the chance for some tropical tornadoes will be the main concern. Rainfall rates may be as high as two inches an hour within the rain bands.

Rain total estimates: 3 to 8 inches for most places with up up to 12 inches possible for a few spots. Sustained wind estimates are at 20 mph to 50 mph with lighter winds in our northwest counties and stronger winds in our southeast counties. The length of time to deal with sustained wind will be about 48 hours, or Monday night through Wednesday night. Wind gusts are estimated at 40 mph to 75 mph. The length of time with potential wind gusts will be 36 hours, or Tuesday morning to Wednesday night.

The estimates are based on the current forecast track and intensity. It may change if the track shifts.

More Info

For more scientific information on this - and other - forecasts, you can get extra details and a complete scientific breakdown over on Nick’s Blog.

Preparations:

Check your Hurricane Preparedness Kit. Make certain that you have all of the supplies you would need to survive without power and water for up to two weeks. Have your NOAA Weather Radio programmed with fully-charged batteries available for it. If you must travel, make sure to check the weather conditions, watches, warnings and advisories before venturing out the door.

Review your Severe Weather Plan and know what you would do if a severe storm or tornado was near you. If you don’t feel comfortable riding out a storm where you live, make a plan regarding when you would leave your home and where you would go. Also, download the WDAM Weather App so, if the power goes out, you still have access to live, streaming coverage of any updates about the weather.

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