MIAMI, Florida – NOAA’s National Hurricane Center issued a Public Advisory at 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, due to the presence of Hurricane Sally (formerly Invest 96L and Tropical Depression Nineteen) that is tracking toward Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle.
Sally is the earliest 18th named storm of any Atlantic Hurricane season by 20 days. The previous record was held by Stan in 2005.
Hurricane Sally Projected Path
Hurricane Sally is located about 65 miles south-southeast of Mobile, Alabama, and is moving to the north-northeast at 2 mph (4 km/h).
NHC forecasters say that a slow northward motion is expected tonight, followed by a slow northeastward to north-northeastward motion on Wednesday and Wednesday night.
A slightly faster northeastward motion is expected on Thursday.
On the official NHC forecast track, the center of Sally will approach the northern Gulf Coast tonight, and make landfall in the hurricane warning area early Wednesday.
Sally is expected to move inland across southeastern Alabama Wednesday night and Thursday.
Hurricane Sally Computer Models
The spaghetti models are in general agreement that Hurricane Sally will track northward towards Mobile Bay, Alabama.
The UKMET (blue square) model shows a more northeastward motion towards the Florida Panhandle.
The HRWF model (pink circle) and GFS American model (purple square) are the western outliers.
The official NHC track (red circle) predicts a landfall near the Alabama / Florida border.
Hurricane Sally Category Strength
Sally is a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 km/h), with higher gusts.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles (65 km) from the center of the cyclone and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles (205 km).
Some strengthening is possible before landfall, and Sally is expected to be a dangerous hurricane when it moves onshore along the north-central Gulf Coast.
Hurricane Sally Watches and Warnings
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the mouth of the Pearl River; Mississippi / Alabama border to Okaloosa/Walton County Line in Florida; and Mobile Bay.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect from east of Bay St. Louis to the Walton/Bay County Line, Florida.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from east of the Okaloosa/Walton County line, Florida to Indian Pass, Florida; Bay St. Louis, Mississippi westward to Grand Isle, Louisiana.
The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season occurred on September 10 when tropical cyclone activity significantly increases, according to NOAA and the National Weather Service’s historical hurricane activity data.
Currently, a total of 7 tropical cyclones may form within the next 5 days.
NOAA and Colorado State University forecast an “extremely active” 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season which runs from June 1 through November 30.