UPDATE: Destin and FWB now under Hurricane Warning
Destin/FWB under Hurricane Warning (Tues. 10 p.m.)
The Storm Surge Warning has been extended east of the Okaloosa/Walton County Line to the Walton/Bay County Line Florida.
The Hurricane Warning has been extended east of Navarre Florida to the Okaloosa/Walton County line Florida.
The Storm Surge Warning has been discontinued between the Mouth of the Pearl River and the Mississippi/Alabama border.
Sally is 60 miles southwest of Pensacola. Maximum sustained winds have increased back to 85 mph. It is still moving slowly at 2 mph. Pressure has dropped to 972 millibars.
Okaloosa shelter prepares to open, storm tracks east again (7 p.m.)
The Navarre Beach bridge has closed due to high winds, according to Navarre Beach Fire Rescue. And a shelter is being prepared to open at The Arena at Northwest Florida State College for residents living in the Blackwater River and Shoal River areas, that may be affected by rising water.
The time at which the shelter will open has not been announced, but organizers with Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster (VOAB) sent an email out Tuesday night to volunteers to get it set up and COVID-19 protected on Tuesday night.
Hurricane Sally is 75 miles southwest of Pensacola with maximum sustained winds at 80 mph. It continues to move slowly, north at 2 mph. The minimum central pressure is 975 millibars.
Okaloosa County Emergency Management has completed an evening call with NWS. Although there was another very slight shift in track to the East (Baldwin County landfall projected instead of Dauphin Island), there are no major changes to our expected impacts at this time, according to a county news release.
The tornado watch for Okaloosa County has been extended through 6 a.m. Wednesday as expected. The weather will continue deteriorating further overnight and sustained minimal tropical storm force winds can be expected along the immediate coast with gusts of 45-55 mph moving inland trough Wednesday afternoon/early evening.
Rainfall values of 15-20 with higher values in areas of training thunderstorms are still projected throughout the county.
Up to this point we have received about 6 inches of rain near the coast and about 4 inches of rain inland. Areas with persistent bands may have some higher values, the release said.
Sally shifts a little more east, massive rainfall amounts beginning to effect driving conditions (4 p.m.)
Hurricane Sally has shifted east again.
Data from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft and NWS Doppler radar indicates that maximum sustained winds are near 80 mph (130 km/h) with higher gusts. Little change in strength is forecast until landfall occurs and Sally is expected to be a dangerous hurricane when it moves onshore along the north-central Gulf Coast.
Okaloosa County Emergency Management officials are anticipating a flash flood event in the north part of the county along rivers once the storm has passed.
Sally shifts east again, rainfall totals could be up to 30 inches (2 p.m.)
Hurricane Sally has shifted east again and is expected to make landfall near Dauphin Island, Alabama about 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
Maximum sustained winds were still at 85 mph and surface temperatures indicate that upwelling of cooler water from the shallow basin near the coast is prohibiting any significant intensification, according to an afternoon email from Okaloosa County Emergency Management.
Rainfall values across the area are raised a bit with 8-15 inches likely, pockets of 20” possible and 30” in areas of Northwest Florida which see training thunderstorms set up in static locations.
Weather deteriorate this afternoon and evening with sustained tropical storm force winds in the 40-45 mph range are possible along the immediate coastal areas, with gusts into the 50 mph range, according to Emergency Management
This means that some bridges could be closed if that projection verifies.
Northwest Florida coast to see life-threatening flash flooding event (10 a.m.)
A historic life-threatening flash flooding event will occur over the next few days. Sally presently has sustained winds of 85mph moving northwest at 2 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center
"The track has shifted east again, but no strengthening to the system, which is good. Our storm surge values have increased to 3-5 feet from 2-4 feet, which EM advises does not put any structures in danger," Okaloosa County Director of Public Safety Patrick Maddox said in a 10 a.m. email.
"Rainfall values will of course increase with this shift, and there is increasing confidence in major flooding to all 3 rivers in the Thursday-Friday time frame," he said.
The Clyde B Well Bridge (331 bridge) in Walton County, Mid-Bay Bridge in Destin and Brooks Bridge in Fort Walton Beach are still open. FDOT and officials close bridges when sustained winds reach 40 mph.
Heavy wind building from the storm has forced the shutdown of the Pensacola Bay Bridge at around 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Hurricane Sally slows to a crawl overnight Tuesday, begins dumping rain on Pensacola (5:45 a.m.)
Hurricane Sally slowed to a crawl overnight Monday, increasing the chances for a historic flooding event across the Florida Panhandle.
As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, the cyclone is moving west/northwest at just 2 miles per hour, surprising even forecasters, said Jonathan Howell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile.
“The primary change this cycle has been the speed,” Howell said. “The storm looks to be an even slower mover than we originally forecast, so it’s just going to move very, very slowly across the area probably through Thursday, and that’s going to really bring the threat of really significant flooding, potentially historic flooding, to much of the area.”
Sally did weaken slightly overnight to a Category 1 storm due to ingesting some drier air, but thunderstorms around the eye of the storm early Tuesday morning indicated she's gaining strength again.
Regardless of the intensity, Howell said it's important for residents to focus on the rainfall — not the wind speed — of Sally.
“Inland freshwater flooding, as well as storm surge flooding, make up over half of our fatalities from all tropical cyclones,” Howell said. “Flooding is the greatest threat and risk associated with a hurricane, as compared to the winds. … we definitely need to pay close attention to this, and make sure that if you live in a low-lying area or in a flood-prone area, that you’re ready to get to higher ground.”
A slight shift east in Sally's track means she's expected to make landfall along the Alabama/Mississippi border Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Nearly an inch of rain fell in Pensacola between midnight and 5 a.m. As much as 20 inches of rain could fall in the area over the next three days.
As of 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, South Garcon Point Road at Katie Street is closed in Santa Rosa County due to weather. Escambia County and the city of Pensacola have not reported any road closures.
The Florida Highway Patrol will close bridges if sustained winds reach 39 miles per hour or greater. As of 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, no bridges have been closed so far.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday declared a state of emergency in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties ahead of Hurricane Sally's arrival on the Gulf Coast.
Annie Blanks can be reached at email@example.com or 850-435-8632.