Tuesday Forecast & Hurricane Sally Update

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 7:55 AM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) - Good Tuesday morning everyone!

All eyes remain on a slow moving Category 1 Hurricane Sally this morning with 85mph winds. The system is still meandering northwest at 2mph, and is located about 140miles southwest of Panama City, 80 miles south of Mobile and 100 miles southeast of the Mississippi River delta in Louisiana.

A Tornado Watch has been issued for NWFL until 6pm CDT as an isolated tornado or two is possible to spin up in the bands of Sally moving through. However, they’re anticipated to be brief and weak if we do see a few.

Meanwhile, steady and persistent rains continue over most of NWFL this morning. It’s not too terribly heavy, but could be at times today. Regardless of rainfall intensity, the persistent rain will continue for just about all of today and even continue into most of tomorrow as well. That will lead toward minor flooding in flood prone areas, and the possibility of flash flooding in any heavy banding of rains.

Remember, if the road looks flooded, turn around and don’t drown! It’s best to find another route. The heavy rains will continue to be our primary threat with Sally regardless of exact landfall which remains very difficult to determine.

Sally sits in weak steering flow right now at almost a stall in between a ridge of high pressure to its northeast and a developing trough to the northwest. Because of the lack of steering flow, Sally is expected to generally drift northward today and tonight before turning to the northeast tomorrow as a trough moves in from the northwest. The National Hurricane Center mentioned the difficulty in determining where landfall may occur due to the lack of steering flow in their discussion this morning noting, “It should be emphasized that it is always challenging to forecast the track of hurricanes in weak steering currents, and in Sally’s case the weak steering is occurring very near land.  The new NHC track forecast is a little to the east of the previous one, trending toward the latest consensus aids.” That consensus is a bit more centered around an area from Biloxi, MS, to Mobile, AL. However, forecast error and Sally’s cone still has a wide-birth with landfall possible anywhere from the Mississippi River Delta to the Florida/Alabama state line.

At this point, surge potential looks highest at 2-4ft from Destin to Pensacola, with 1-3ft for the rest of the Florida Panhandle to the east. Winds may gust from the east to southeast to tropical storm strength along the coast, especially for areas west of Destin, with sustained winds around 15-25mph for the immediate coast down to 10-15mph inland. Heavy rain and potential flooding rains of up to 5-10″ across the Panhandle from yesterday through Wednesday will continue to be the main threat with the higher amounts closer to the coast.

Bottom Line...

For today, rain likely throughout much if not all fo the day, new rainfall amounts may reach up to 2-3″ especially along the coast. Highs today only reach the upper 70s. Your 7 Day Forecast has one more rainy and windy day ahead for tomorrow as we watch Sally make landfall along the Northern Gulf Coast.

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