Slow moving Sally poses flood threat for the central Gulf Coast

Posted at 4:42 AM, Sep 14, 2020

Tropical Storm Sally has been slowing down over the last 24 hours and will continue to crawl to the central Gulf Coast with landfall anticipated along the Louisiana/Mississippi border sometime on Tuesday.

Winds are currently hovering around 60 mph sustained but will pick up to around 85 mph by landfall making it a strong Category 1 storm, however, flooding is going to be the most substantial threat for the central Gulf Coast.

Impacts for Acadiana will be minimal, with only a few possible downpours and strong gusty winds, but conditions will quickly deteriorate to the east.

A Hurricane Warning will continue from Morgan City eastward to the Mississippi/Alabama border, and coastal portions of Acadiana from Intracoastal City eastward to Morgan City will be under a tropical storm warning.

This means that tropical storm type conditions, namely strong winds, can be expected in the next 24-36 hours along Acadiana's coast, hurricane conditions expected in the next 24-36 hours further to our east.

Taking a look at the forecast the thing that jumps out is how slowly the storm is moving, now down to around 9 mph and expected to continue to slow as it gets closer to landfall.

This will not only allow the water to pile up along the coast but will also keep the heavy, tropical showers continuous for quite a while along the central Gulf Coast which means flash flooding will be a major concern.

While the winds will be from the north in Acadiana pushing a lot of the water away from the coast, tides will still be running a little higher and there will be a much more significant surge for the eastern coastline.

The stretch of Coast from about the mouth of the Mississippi River to roughly Gulfport, Ms. could be looking at a surge of roughly 7-11 feet, and the possibility for a six foot storm surge along Lake Pontchartrain.

The surge will only be part of the equation though, the other which also is being exacerbated by a slow moving storm, is a tremendous amount of rainfall possible along the Gulf Coast with areas likely seeing between 6-12" of rain, and isolated areas seeing about a foot and a half.

Threats from flash flooding may stretch from New Orleans to about as far east as Pensacola, so with such a wide area seeing potential impacts it's important not to focus on the exact forecast track.

That being said the worst of the rain will be along and just east of the center of the storm, which is where the greatest wind threat will also exist.

There's a lot of concern, especially after Laura, about a rapid intensification and while intensification is expected the storm is also battling back against some wind shear.

This shear will prevent the type of ramp up that we saw with Laura, this does not mean that the storm should not be taken lightly it will still be a strong storm producing significant impacts across the central Gulf Coast.

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