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Hurricane Sally, now a category 2 storm (winds at 110 mph) has slowed and intensified in the last 24 hours, with landfall now shifting to the east (fortunately away from New Orleans). But the storm is crawling toward the Eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida Panhandle coastline with its high winds whipping the shore, the storm surge and huge rainfall amounts are expected to last for the next 36 hours. According to The Washington Post and CNN, the up to two feet could fall in some areas, which will cause major flooding challenging the city of New Orleans’ water pumping system and levees. More than 17 million people are in the storm’s path according to CBS News, and it could make landfall as a category 3 hurricane late today. Meanwhile, five named storms are active in the Atlantic at the same time — only the second time in 150 years of record-keeping.
Why This Matters: As President Trump denies the science, which he literally did today in California, the Gulf Coast gets ready for rainfall totals measured in feet not inches. Feet. The storm’s behavior is even more alarming — its winds keep getting stronger while it moves slowly over the warm Gulf waters — like the windup for a really hard punch. And there could be more to come — it’s only mid-September.
Evacuations in Four States
According to The Weather Channel, evacuations orders have been issued to residents in all four impacted states. The Mayor of Pascagoula, Mississippi told The Weather Channel, “My message to my fellow citizens is this: If you’re in a flood-prone area, go ahead and get out now. Go stay with friends or family or go stay at a hotel, but get out now. If you have a chance of being flooded, please don’t stay at home.” A local emergency manager in Alabama told Weather.com on Monday night, “I think that it’s very important that people really pay close attention to this system and not focus on what category of storm that it may be.” And in Eastern Louisiana, the President of one parish with a madatory evacuation order said, “What happened in the past doesn’t matter. We handle every threat the same … You can’t say, ‘I’m tired of this, I don’t want to do it.’ It doesn’t matter what kind of year we’ve had … we still have a major threat in front of us.” Some school districts in all four states, which were open for in-person classes, closed due to the storm.
Interestingly, there is no mention of the COVID pandemic in the news stories about the hurricane evacuations, which is a marked difference from Hurricane Laura two weeks ago. The CDC recommends adding these items to a storm/fire preparedness kit:
Disinfectant wipes and spray
Bar or liquid soap
Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
Minimum of two masks per person for each person over the age of 2 in your household
This year has seen many bad records broken when it comes to climate-driven severe weather. We are now several letters into the Greek alphabet for storm names having reached this point (23 so far) for only the second time since storm names began.
Why This Matters: The number of storms is not just a fun fact — it is devastating for tens of thousands of people.
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