Tropical Storm Sally, which is expected to become a hurricane and soak the Gulf coast Tuesday, is forecast to turn toward the Palmetto State later this week after it makes landfall.
As of the National Hurricane Center’s mid-morning update on Monday, maximum sustained winds were near 65 mph. It is moving slowly toward the west-northwest at 8 mph. Rain bands from the storm were moving ashore the Florida Panhandle Monday morning, where Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches are in effect.
Sally is forecast to strengthen into a category 1 hurricane later Monday or Monday night as it moves in the general direction of the Gulf coast in southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Landfall is expected some time on Tuesday, and Hurricane Watches and Warnings were issued from Alabama to Louisiana in advance of the storm's arrival there.
Storm Surge Warnings are in effect for a large portion of the Alabama, Mississippi, and southeast Louisiana coastlines, where several peak surges of 7 to 11 feet were possible in some areas. Because of Sally's slow movement, rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 feet are expected, which will almost cause inland freshwater flooding, forecasters said.
Sally is expected to merge with a cold front and move toward South Carolina during the second half of this week. The first rain bands may arrive in parts of the state Wednesday afternoon, but are more likely Thursday and Friday. Widespread rainfall of 1.5 to 3 inches is currently forecast statewide and this may cause scattered areas of flash flooding. It is currently unclear whether tornadoes will accompany Sally as it moves over the state, but heavy rainfall appears to be the biggest potential hazard at this time.
As Sally moves offshore the Carolina coast, it is likely to push a cold front through the entire state by late Friday. Drier and somewhat cooler air is possible behind the front over the upcoming weekend, but there is some uncertainty as to whether the front will entirely clear the coastal areas.