Hurricane Sally is poised about 100 miles off the Gulf Coast and bringing heavy rain and strong wind to coastal Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle. As of Tuesday morning, maximum sustained winds are 85 mph and it is a category 1 hurricane.
Landfall on the Gulf Coast
The National Hurricane Center predicts that Sally will be a strong category 1 hurricane when making landfall near the Mississippi/Alabama border Wednesday morning. The storm will be an extremely slow-mover, so flooding rain is a big concern for the Gulf Coast in addition to strong winds and a storm surge.
The heaviest rain will be in Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle where 10-20" of rain is likely. Devastating flooding is possible in these areas.
Sally will weaken to a tropical storm and depression Wednesday into Thursday as it trudges towards Georgia. The storm will bring heavy rain to at least part of north Georgia between late Wednesday and early Friday. Right now, it looks like the best bet for heavy rain is on Thursday. The storm will not have much wind as it passes by, but even 20-25 mph wind gusts can cause tree damage with a saturated ground.
In a worst-case scenario, part of north Georgia will get more than six inches of rain from Tropical Depression Sally. It's possible the heavy rain will be in the Atlanta Metro area. The track of the tropical depression is critical, because Sally is not a huge storm. If it moves north or south, that will impact the rain forecast for any given area.
3-6" of rain is possible from the storm, and that would be enough to lead to street, stream, creek and river flooding. A Flash Flood Watch may be issued ahead of the storm.
There is also a low risk of severe weather as Sally passes by. An isolated tornado can be ruled out if the center of the tropical depression passes north or over Atlanta.
20 named storms so far
Twenty named storms have developed so far this hurricane season in the Atlantic.
The average number of named storms each hurricane season (June through November) is 12.
The most number of storms to develop in a hurricane season was 28 storms from 2005, the devastating season that included hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.
The peak of hurricane season was on Sept. 10.