Hurricane Sally approaches US Gulf Coast, authorities evacuate residents and shut flood gates
Sally rapidly intensified to Category 2 hurricane on Monday and life-threatening storm surge is expected, particularly in parts of southeast Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. According to US National Hurricane Center (NHC), some strengthening is forecast early Tuesday and Sally is expected to be a dangerous hurricane when it moves onshore along the north-central Gulf coast. Louisiana and Mississippi residents were under evacuation orders on Monday, even as flood gates in the New Orleans area were being closed.
"We are in the process of closing several lakefront gates at West End. Please be careful if you are leaving from the area to drive slowly and be mindful of field crews. Thank you and be safe," tweeted the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. Other flood gates are also been shut, said the Flood Protection Authority.
We are in the process of closing several lakefront gates at West End. Please be careful if you are leaving from the area to drive slowly and be mindful of field crews. Thank you and be safe! #Sally pic.twitter.com/ix4QLf4Uzz— Flood Protection Authority (@SLFPAE) September 14, 2020
GIWW East Sector gate and Bayou Bienvenue Vertical Lift gate on Surge Barrier will be closing 9/14 between 8AM and noon and will remain closed for duration of storm event.— Flood Protection Authority (@SLFPAE) September 14, 2020
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "People in New Orleans watched the storm’s track intently, worried that Sally would pose the latest test for pumps used in the low-lying city’s century-old drainage system." In eastern New Orleans, drainage canals were lowered in anticipation of torrential rains, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. New Orleans police went on 12-hour shifts, and rescue boats, barricades, backup generators and other equipment were readied, Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Sally is moving near the coast of southeastern Louisiana and hurricane conditions are expected early Tuesday. Multiple impacts are expected with this system: extremely dangerous and life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds, torrential rain with flash flooding and possible tornadoes. Sally is expected to be a slow-moving system as it approaches land, and heavy rain of 8 to 16 inches with isolated amounts up to 24 inches will result in flash flooding across much of the generally east of the track, warned authorities. Coastal inundation of 6 to 9 feet could be possible near and to the right of where the storm makes landfall.
Life-threatening flash flooding is likely with Sally, as well as widespread minor to isolated major flooding on area rivers along and just inland of the Central Gulf Coast. Significant flash and urban flooding as well as widespread minor to moderate river flooding is likely across inland portions of Mississippi and Alabama and into northern Georgia, southeastern Tennessee and the western Carolinas through the week.
While the NHC regularly updates its public advisory, in the current one, hurricane warning is in effect for Grand Isle Louisiana to the Navarre Florida, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, including metropolitan New Orleans. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.
Sally was moving west-northwest at 3 miles per hour or 6 km/hour on Monday, and this motion is expected to continue through Tuesday morning. A northward turn is
likely by Tuesday afternoon and a slow north-northeastward to northeastward motion is expected Tuesday night through Wednesday night. On the forecast track, the center of Sally will move near the coast of southeastern Louisiana Monday night and Tuesday, and make landfall in the hurricane warning area Tuesday night or Wednesday.
At 10 pm Central Daylight Time (CDT) on September 14, it was about 145 km east of the mouth of the Mississippi and 210 km south-east of Biloxi, Mississippi. The maximum sustained winds are near 100 miles per hour or 155 km per hour, with higher gusts.
"An extremely dangerous and life-threatening storm surge is expected for areas outside the southeastern Louisiana Hurricane and storm damage risk reduction system from Port Fourchon, Louisiana, to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line in the Florida Panhandle, where a storm surge warning is in effect. Residents in these areas should follow any advice given by local officials," according to an NHC forecast. It adds, "Hurricane conditions are expected early Tuesday within the Hurricane Warning area in southeastern Louisiana and are expected by late Tuesday and Tuesday night within the Hurricane warning area along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines and the western Florida Panhandle. Tropical storm conditions are already occurring in some of these areas."