Hurricane Sally is continuing to slosh its way toward the US Gulf Coast, with its outer bands now pummelling northwest Florida. Because the storm is moving slowly, about five kilometres per hour, forecasters fear it could intensify beyond its current Category 2 strength. With winds whipping at more than 144 kilometres per hour, Sally is expected to hit somewhere near the Mississippi-Alabama state line late today or early tomorrow.
Here is the latest from the National Hurricane Centre:
At 100 AM CDT (0600 UTC), the center of Hurricane Sally was located an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft and NOAA Doppler weather radars near latitude 28.8 North, longitude 88.0 West. Sally is moving slowly toward the west near 3 mph (6 km/h). A slow west-northwestward motion is expected to resume later this morning. A northward turn is expected this afternoon, followed by a slow north-northeastward to northeastward motion tonight and continuing through Wednesday night. On the forecast track, the center of Sally will move near the coast of southeastern Louisiana later today, and make landfall in the hurricane warning area tonight or Wednesday morning.
Data from the reconnaissance aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 90 mph (150 km/h) with higher gusts. However, some re-strengthening is forecast early to occur later today, and Sally is expected to be a dangerous hurricane when it moves onshore along the north-central Gulf coast. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles (205 km). A NOAA C-MAN observing station on Dauphin Island, Alabama, recently reported a wind gust of 51 mph (81 km/h), while a buoy just south of Dauphin Island recently reported a wind gust to 59 mph (94 km/h). The estimated minimum central pressure based on data from the Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft is 986 mb (29.12 inches).
Photo Credit: National Hurricane Centre