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Hurricane Warning Issued for Pensacola Ahead of Sally

Wind alerts and potential track for Hurricane Sally
Wind alerts and potential track for Hurricane Sally

A Hurricane Warning and a Storm Surge Warning have been issued for Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties in the Florida Panhandle, including the city of Pensacola, ahead of Sally. Sally strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane late Monday afternoon with maximum sustained wind speeds of 100 mph and a slow forward speed of 5 mph towards the west-northwest.

The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center shifted the track of Sally eastward, bringing the hazards from the storm closer to parts of the Florida Panhandle. Due to Sally's slow forward speed, persistent heavy rainfall is expected to last through at least Thursday, with western locations in the Panhandle forecast to receive between 10 and 15 inches of rainfall with locally higher amounts possible. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect through Wednesday.

Estimated rainfall through Wednesday for Hurricane Sally
Estimated rainfall through Wednesday for Hurricane Sally

Hurricane force wind gusts are possible in the warned area beginning late Monday evening and lasting through at least Tuesday night. Tropical storm force wind gusts will continue across parts of the central and western Panhandle through Monday night.

Storm surge heights between 2 and 4 feet are expected along the western coastlines with surge height of 1 to 3 feet possible near the city of Destin and east through Apalachicola.

Sally is expected to continue strengthening Monday night and into Tuesday as it slowly approaches the northern Gulf Coast where is could make landfall near the Mississippi and Alabama border as a Category 2 hurricane. Sally is then anticipated to meander slowly north-northeast crossing through Alabama and Wednesday and Thursday before potentially degenerating back into a tropical depression over Georgia.

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Dr. Athena Masson