The National Hurricane Center said parts of the northern Gulf Coast should brace for "extreme life-threatening flash flooding"

By Ally Mauch
September 15, 2020 11:28 AM
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Gerald Herbert/AP/Shutterstock

Hurricane Sally is getting closer to making landfall in the southeastern U.S., bringing what could be “historic flooding” to the Gulf Coast.

In a public advisory posted early Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said that Sally's center is expected to pass the coast of southeastern Louisiana later in the day and make landfall Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, and storm surge warnings are in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line in Florida, as well as in Mobile Bay, Alabama.

"Historic flooding is possible from Sally with extreme life-threatening flash flooding likely through Wednesday along portions of the northern Gulf Coast," the advisory said.

Stacy Stewart, a senior specialist with the National Hurricane Center, said “devastating” rainfall that could lead to drownings is expected in large areas, according to the Associated Press.

Hurricane Sally and five other storm systems in the Atlantic
AP/Shutterstock

“This is going to be historic flooding along with the historic rainfall,” Stewart said. “If people live near rivers, small streams and creeks, they need to evacuate and go somewhere else.”

In a press conference, Mayor Sandy Stimpson of Mobile, Alabama similarly warned residents he expected a “tremendous amount of flooding.”

In anticipation of the storm, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared an emergency in the state’s westernmost counties, and President Donald Trump issued emergency declarations for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Monday, the AP reported.

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Hurricane Sally will be the second major storm to hit the Gulf Coast in the past few weeks following Hurricane Laura in August, marking what is shaping up to be a historic storm season.

There are currently five active tropical cyclones — Hurricane Paulette, Hurricane Sally, Tropical Storm Teddy, Tropical Storm Vicky, and Tropical Depression Rene — in the Atlantic. The only other time there have been five active systems in this ocean was in 1971, according to CNN.

Many experts have attributed the more intense storms to climate change, which can lead to rapid intensification, the slowing down of hurricanes and increased rainfall.

“Our confidence continues to grow that storms have become stronger, and it is linked to climate change and they will continue to get stronger as the world continues to warm,” Jim Kossin, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Wisconsin, told The Washington Post last month.