weather tropical storm sally track 9a 09142020
Hurricane Sally gaining strength as it moves toward Gulf Coast
01:53 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Hurricane Sally strengthened into a Category 2 storm on Monday, and there’s a chance it will make landfall in southeastern Louisiana, a state still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.

The center of Sally is expected to move near the southeastern Louisiana coast Monday night and make landfall on the Gulf Coast late on Tuesday, possibly as a Category 3 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm appeared to shift east early Monday, placing Mississippi’s and Alabama’s entire coasts under a hurricane warning.

Hurricane warnings now stretch from Morgan City, Louisiana, eastward into Florida, at the Okaloosa/Walton County line. Forecasters warn of storm surge and flash flooding.

Luis A. Sanabria puts plywood over windows of a business in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Further strengthening is expected in the next 24 hours before the storm makes landfall, the NHC said.

“Sally could approach major hurricane strength,” the NHC said, adding that the storm’s wind speeds have increased by at least 40 mph in just a 12-hour period, a process called intensification.

A Monday evening update showed the storm about 135 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi.

The storm had 100 mph winds, but of more concern is its sluggish final approach, forecasters say.

“Since Sally is forecast to be moving very slowly around the time of landfall, a slower rate of weakening is indicated since a large portion of the circulation will remain over water for some time,” the National Weather Service said.

President Donald Trump approved emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi, the White House said. This means Trump authorized the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist with all disaster relief efforts in the two states.

Mississippi officials are working to make decisions on possible mandatory evacuations, Gov. Tate Reeves said.

During a briefing, the governor said he feared his state would bear the brunt of Sally’s rain and storm surge, and he urged residents to prepare for prolonged power outages. Shelters are opening for evacuees, he said.

Alabama and Mississippi get ready

Officials were handing out sandbags in Saraland, Alabama, north of Mobile, while residents on Dauphin Island, a barrier isle on the Alabama coast, were also preparing for flooding, CNN affiliate WALA reported.

“We’re lucky enough to live in the center of the island, so it’s not hopefully gonna be too bad for us,” Ryan Gieselman told the station. “I hope it really just misses us and we can go on with the rest of our summer and enjoy it, but if it hits us, just be prepared and be ready to hunker down.”