Sally strengthens into storm, forecast to be hurricane before landing in Southeast Louisiana Monday or Tuesday

Tropical Storm Sally formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, the 18th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, and is projected to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall somewhere in the vicinity of southeast Louisiana sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning, according to Roger Erickson of the National Weather Service in Lake Charles.

Sally is one of six active tropical cyclones or disturbances being tracked in the Atlantic by the National Hurricane Center. Sally strengthened into a tropical storm by the 1 p.m. National Hurricane Center advisory with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

The storm was headed west around 7 mph with a turn expected toward the west-northwest that is forecast to continue over the next couple of days. The forecast track sees the center moving over the sooutheastern and eastern Gulf of Mexico through Sunday, then over the north-central Gulf of Mexico tonight and into Monday. The track forecast shifted slightly west between the 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. NWS advisories, according to Erickson, the warning coordination meteoroligist at the NWS Lake Charles office.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect from the Mouth of the Mississippi River to the Alabama/Florida Border, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, Lake Borgne, and Mobile Bay.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect from Grand Isle to the Alabama/Florida border, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake

Maurepas, and metropolitan New Orleans.

The Tropical Storm watch has been extended westward from the Okaloosa/Walton County Line to the Alabama/Florida Border.

“Additional strengthening is expected over the next couple of days, and Sally is forecast to become a hurricane by late Monday,” according to the 2 p.m. advisory.

The system is expected to slow down as it approaches the coast, so flash flood and storm surge threats will increase along and east of the path. Long range forecast accuracy is between 65 and 100 miles for 2-3 days before landfall, the NWS advised. The hurricane center expressed low to medium confidence in the track and intensity.

Prescott Marshall, director of the Iberia Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, noted that landfall projections show a category one hurricane somewhere from the southeastern part of Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. In an prepared statement, he said rainfall projections for our region are for 1-3 inches through Friday, with locally higher amounts possible. Some trees in the areas hit hard by Hurricane Laura late last month could be more vulnerable to falling in wind gusts of just 30 to 40 mph, he said in the statement.

Tropical storm Paulette and tropical depression Rene are both located in the Atlantic Ocean and neither is forecast to make landfall in the next five days, with Paulette expected to curve to the northwest away from the continental United States and Rene, forecast to turn southwest toward the Caribbean and become a post/potential tropical cyclone by early Thursday.

There also is a tropical disturbance in the Gulf south of New Orleans that has a low probability (les than 30 percent) of forming into a tropical cyclone over the next two days, and two disturbances in the southeast portion of the Atlantic off the coast of Africa, one of which has a 90 percent chance of cyclone formation in the next 48 hours and the other with a 40 percent chance.

Paulette is currently headed northwest toward Bermuda, with large swells expected to reach the east coast of the U.S. during the next couple of days, according to the NHC’s 2 p.m. Saturday forecast. A hurricane watch is in effect for Bermuda.

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