Hurricane, storm surge warnings issued for parts of Gulf Coast as Sally strengthens

Extreme Weather

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The National Weather Service has issued hurricane and storm surge warnings for parts of the northern Gulf Coast as Tropical Storm Sally strengthens off the west coast of Florida.

The tropics remain extremely active Sunday with Tropical Storm Sally, Hurricane Paulette, Tropical Depression Rene and Tropical Depression 20 all churning along with two other disturbances and another tropical wave expected to emerge off the coast of Africa in the coming days.

Tropical Storm Sally

Tropical Storm Sally strengthened again Sunday morning and now has maximum sustained wind speeds of 50 mph. The National Hurricane Center says the storm should strengthen to a hurricane on Monday.

As of 5 a.m., Sally is about 115 miles west of Port Charlotte, Florida and moving west-northwest at about 13 mph. The tropical storm is forecast to continue moving in that direction until it slows down and makes a turn toward the north-northwest on Tuesday. The NHC says Sally will move over the Gulf of Mexico Sunday and Monday before approaching the north-central Gulf Coast late Monday or Tuesday.

Storm Surge Warning in effect for:

  • Port Fourchon, Louisiana to the Mississippi/Alabama Border
  • Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Lake Borgne

Hurricane Warning in effect for:

  • Grand Isle, Louisiana to Ocean Springs, Mississippi
  • Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas including metropolitan New Orleans

Storm Surge Watch in effect for:

  • Mississippi/Alabama Border to the Alabama/Florida Border

Hurricane Watch in effect for:

  • East of Ocean Springs to the Alabama/Florida Border

Tropical Storm Warning in effect for:

  • East of Ocean Springs to Indian Pass

Tropical Storm Watch in effect for:

  • Indian Pass to Ochlockonee River, Florida

Hurricane Paulette

Paulette reached hurricane strength on Saturday night as it moved toward Bermuda. As of 5 a.m., Paulette was a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.

The storm is about 310 miles southeast of Bermuda and moving west-northwest at about 14 mph. Paulette is forecast to start bringing strong winds, storm surge and heavy rain to Bermuda by Sunday evening before moving over or near the island territory early Monday morning.

According to the latest NHC forecast, Paulette is expected to be a “dangerous hurricane” when it approaches Bermuda. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Bermuda.

Tropical Depression Rene

As of 5 a.m. Sunday, Rene remains a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. It is forecast to become a remnant low on Monday.

Tropical Depression 20

Tropical Depression 20 is about 1745 miles east of the Lesser Antilles as of 5 a.m. Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The system is expected to continue its current movement toward the west-northwest for the next few days.

As of Sunday morning, Tropical Depression 20 has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. Strengthening is expected over the next several days. Forecasters expect it to become a tropical storm by Tuesday and say it could potentially become a hurricane after that.

Other areas to watch

In addition to the tropical depressions, tropical storm and hurricane, the NHC is also monitoring three other areas in the Atlantic basin for potential development.

The first is a trough over the west-central Gulf of Mexico that’s producing some shower activity as of Sunday morning. The NHC says slow development of the system is possible but strong upper-level winds associated with Sally will likely limit the chance of formation. The disturbance is expected to move southwestward and then southward over the west-central and southwestern Gulf over the next few days.

The second area being monitored is an area of showers and thunderstorms near the Cabo Verde Islands that the NHC says is associated with a broad area of low pressure. The latest forecast says environmental conditions do support some additional development and a tropical depression could form in the coming days as the system moves west-northwest. Upper-level winds are expected to become less conducive for development by mid-week. The NHC has given the disturbance a medium 60 percent chance of formation through the next 48 hours and a high 70 percent chance of formation over the next five days.

The third area being watched is a tropical wave that’s forecast to emerge off the west coast of Africa this week. The NHC says gradual development of the system is possible as it moves over the Atlantic. It has been given a low, near zero percent chance of formation in the next 48 hours and a low 20 percent chance of formation in the next five days.

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