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Hurricane Sally update: how many people are at risk of flooding in Gulf landfall?

Hurricane Sally inched closer to the Gulf Coast on Tuesday and is expected to bring severe flooding from south east Louisiana to Florida Panhandle.

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Hurricane Sally update: how many people are at risk of flooding in Gulf landfall?
JONATHAN BACHMAN REUTERS

Hurricane Sally continues slowly on her path along the Gulf Coast with three other storms and two disturbances in her wake and is expected to make landfall near the Mississippi-Alabama border on Wednesday. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued advisories for all five storms, warning of “historic, life-threatening flash flooding along portions of the northern Gulf coast”. Sally is a slow-moving, Category 1 hurricane moving at just 2 mph but generating sustained winds of 70-80 mph. Tropical-storm-force winds were spreading onshore along the Gulf Coast on Tuesday afternoon, the NHC reported.

Hurricane Sally expected to make landfall in the next few hours

According to the NHC, as of 4 p.m. Sally was about 85 miles south of Mobile, Alabama. Significant rainfall of 10-20 inches with isolated pockets of up to 30 inches of rain and a high expectancy of flash flooding is forecast from south east Louisiana to Florida Panhandle. Storm surge warnings are in place for the mouth of the Mississippi River to Okaloosa / Walton County Line, Florida and Mobile Bay. Storm surge may wipe out roads and buildings with the highest inundation along the Alabama coast.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for East of Bay St. Louis to Navarre, Florida while Tropical Storm warnings have come into effect for East of Navarre, Florida to Indian Pass, Florida and Bay St. Louis Westward to Grand Isle, Louisiana.

"Historic flooding" expected

Sally, the 18th Named Storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, formed on Saturday. She is one of five storms which the NHC are closely monitoring – including Paulette, Teddy, Rene and Vicky. It is the first time since 1971 that there have been five named storms at once in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Sally is expected to be a dangerous hurricane when it moves onshore along the north-central Gulf Coast, the Hurricane Center warned. Forecasters expect Sally to turn northeast as it comes ashore and continues to inch across the Southeast later in the week producing widespread moderate to major river flooding through the week. “There is going to be historic flooding along with the historic rainfall; if people live near rivers, small streams and creeks, they need to evacuate and go somewhere else,” Stacy Stewart, Senior Hurricane Specialist at NOAA's National Hurricane Center in Miami said today.