Tropical Storm Sally is Likely to Slow Down, Enhancing Flood Threat in Panhandle
Tropical storm force wind gusts, heavy rain with the potential for flash flooding, and a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet are all possible in parts of the Florida Panhandle from Tropical Storm Sally beginning Monday. The flood risk could continue through at least Tuesday evening, as Sally slows to a crawl before making landfall in Louisiana.
The Tropical Storm Watches previously in effect for the Florida Panhandle from Port St. Joe west to the Alabama border have been upgraded to a Tropical Storm Warning. A Tropical Storm Watch continues for areas farther east to the Ochlockonee River.
A Flash Flood Watch has been issued for all areas of the Florida Panhandle west of a line from Marianna to Apalachee Bay through Tuesday evening. The watch includes Apalachicola, Panama City, Crestview, the Emerald Coast, and Pensacola.
As of 11 am Sunday, the center of Tropical Storm Sally was located 135 miles west of St. Petersburg and moving west-northwest at 12 mph . Maximum sustained winds were noted by hurricane hunters to be at 60 mph, with a minimum central pressure of 998mb.
The primary hazard from Tropical Storm Sally, as it relates to Florida Panhandle, will be flooding. This could occur suddenly, which is called a flash flood, or it might develop over a longer period of time near coastlines and creeks due to persistent rain and higher water levels. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said the storm's slower movement will "exacerbate the storm surge and heavy rainfall threats" to Florida's Gulf Coast. The area at greatest risk for a multi-day flooding event is along the Emerald Coast from Destin to Pensacola, and locations inland to roughly the I-10 corridor.
Wind gusts up to 50 mph from Tropical Storm Sally's outer rain bands are expected to arrive along the Gulf Coast near Port St. Joe and Panama City early Monday morning. Tropical storm force wind gusts are then expected to spread west along the Emerald Coast from Destin to Navarre by early afternoon, and to Pensacola by early Monday evening. Minor wind damage will be possible from some of the stronger outer rain bands of Tropical Storm Sally, along with an attendant water spout or tornado risk.
Frequent updates on Tropical Storm Sally are available via the Florida Storms mobile app or social media accounts. Meteorologists from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network will also provide updates on Tropical Storm Sally through Florida's network of public radio and television stations.
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