Orlando Sentinel: FLORIDA – Hurricane Sally, which formed early Monday afternoon, had already strengthened hours later to a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds and is expected to become stronger as it bears down on the northern Gulf Coast, including Florida’s Panhandle. The National Hurricane Center also said Tropical Storm Teddy is likely to develop into a hurricane Tuesday as four other systems, including Hurricane Paulette, move through the Atlantic.
It was the second time in recorded history that five named tropical cyclones are churning in the Atlantic at the same time, said meteorologist Philip Klotzbach. Additionally, the NHC also has two systems on its radar with low chances of development.
First, Sally is moving up and away from the Florida peninsula, bringing threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall along the north-central Gulf Coast on Tuesday or Wednesday. It also brought bands of rain to Central Florida on Monday.
Sally is heading west-northwest in the Gulf at 3 mph and was 90 miles east of the mouth of the Mississippi River as of the NHC’s 11pm update. Sally’s maximum sustained winds jumped to 100 mph with higher gusts as a result of the warm Gulf waters, moist atmosphere and low wind shear. Hurricane-force winds extended farther outward, up to 45 miles from Sally’s center, and its tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 125 miles mainly to the east.
In 23 years of studying weather patterns, FOX 35 meteorologist Jayme King has never seen a hurricane season progress through the designated storm name list as quickly as the 2020 season. Wilfred is the last name left in the 2020 season. After Wilfred, hurricane specialists will begin using letters from the Greek alphabet to name storm; a tactic meteorologists have had to use only once before, in 2005, which had a total of 28 named storms.
“You had Katrina that year,” King said. “Just a flurry of activity and it started ramping up in mid season, just took off. Just like now. It’s very hyperactive as we figured it would be. El Niño is not present. La Niña is full blossom allowing for very little shear.”
Sally dumped rain across South Florida when it formed over the weekend, but now threatens 8-16 inches with some areas of 24 inches and flash flooding across the Gulf Coast from Florida’s Panhandle to far southeast Louisiana through the middle of the week, with a threat of tornadoes through early Tuesday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
“We don’t necessarily anticipate hurricane force winds in those areas at this time but we think it’s very likely to have tropical storm force winds,” said DeSantis, adding residents in any low-lying areas should heed evacuation orders.
The storm is projected to grow into an “extremely dangerous” Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 105 mph before making landfall, although it’s too early to say where.
“On the forecast track, the center of Sally will move near the coast of southeastern Louisiana … Tuesday, and make landfall in the hurricane warning area Tuesday night or Wednesday,” the NHC said.
A storm surge warning is in effect from Port Fourchon, Louisiana to the Okaloosa/Walton county line in Florida, along with Mobile Bay and southeastern areas of Louisiana such as Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Lake Borgne.
A hurricane warning was issued for metropolitan New Orleans and from Grand Isle, La. to Navarre, Florida. A tropical storm warning is in effect from east of Navarre to Indian Pass.
Louisiana state leaders are taking action to caution their citizens to prepare for Sally’s arrival.
“I know for a lot of people this storm seemed to come out of nowhere,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. “We need everybody to pay attention to this storm. Let’s take this one seriously.”
Edwards urged people to prepare for the storm immediately. He also said there are still many from southwestern Louisiana who evacuated from Hurricane Laura into New Orleans — exactly the area that could be hit by Sally, which is a slow-moving storm.
Sally first emerged as Tropical Depression 19 off the southeast coast of Florida on Friday night. The depression first moved across South Florida early Saturday morning near Miami with 35 mph sustained winds.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Paulette continues to grow in strength after passing directly over the entire island of Bermuda early Monday. The storm is 275 miles north-northeast of Bermuda. Paulette is the sixth hurricane of the season.
At 11 pm. Monday, Hurricane Paulette was moving northeast at 17 mph with maximum sustained winds having grown to 105 mph with higher gusts. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 60 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds reach outward up to 230 miles.
Paulette brought heavy rains to Bermuda while also producing swells, generating life-threatening rip current and surf conditions as far away as the southeastern U.S., the NHC said.
East of Paulette, what was once Tropical Storm Rene dissipated and is now a remnant low, the NHC said in its last advisory on the system.
Forming Monday morning, Tropical Storm Teddy grew out of Tropical Depression 20, which formed Saturday night over the central tropical Atlantic, and is expected to become a major hurricane as early as Tuesday.
As of 11 p.m., Teddy was located about 1,100 miles east of the Lesser Antilles with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph moving west at 13 mph.
The long-range forecast has Teddy potentially reaching major hurricane strength sometime Thursday, although the storm remains in the mid-Atlantic and poses no threat to land.
The formation of Teddy came 20 days earlier than the 19th storm of the 2005 season, which was actually not even classified until a post-season analysis found out that it should have been that season’s “T” storm on Oct. 4. That subtropical storm was unnamed, but Tropical Storm Tammy that year, formed one day later on Oct. 5.
Tropical Storm Vicky also spiraled into formation Monday morning, the NHC said. It first emerged as Tropical Depression 21 early Monday in the east Atlantic from a low pressure system. Vicky was located 455 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph moving northwest at 7 mph.
Vicky is expected to weaken Tuesday and be downgraded to a depression by Wednesday as it’s expected to move over colder waters to the north and an area of strong, upper-level winds soon after, the NHC said.
The NHC continues to monitor other tropical developments in the already busy Atlantic.
First, a surface trough over the west-central Gulf of Mexico is producing limited shower activity. Development is not expected due to strong upper level winds, as it moves southwestward, the NHC said. It has a low, 10% chance of developing in the next two days and a 20% chance of developing in the next five.
And second, the NHC says a tropical wave has formed off the west coast of Africa with disorganized shower and thunderstorm activity. Slow development will be possible as it moves west over the eastern tropical Atlantic at 10 mph to 15 mph, with 30% chances of formation in the next two days, and 50% in the next five days.
Hurricane season ends on Nov. 30. NOAA forecast this year an estimated 19 to 25 named storms was possible before the end of season — it was the largest forecast NOAA ever predicted.