Live updates: Hurricane Sally continues to pose threat to New Orleans, southeast Louisiana
**This file contains information on Hurricane Sally, the 18th storm in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. As of Sept. 14, Sally was a Category 2 storm. The updates in this story have ended as Sally's path has shifted away from Louisiana.**
Hurricane Sally continues to pose a threat to the New Orleans area and southeast Louisiana with storm surge and heavy rainfall as it intensifies on its path across the north-central Gulf Coast.
Sally continued moving west-northwest Monday toward the Louisiana coast, with the latest National Hurricane Center projections showing it skirting southeast Louisiana on an expected northern turn. The storm is predicted to take that turn toward Mississippi, but slowing considerably off the Louisiana coast with high winds and heavy rains.
Hurricane Sally:When will this Category 2 storm make landfall?
Storm database: Track Hurricane Sally and other active storms in the Atlantic
The storm, which is expected to intensify into a strong Category 2 storm, has caused closures throughout the southeast part of Louisiana, including the New Orleans area.
A hurricane warning remains in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border, and that includes the New Orleans area.
The USA TODAY Network - Louisiana is covering the storm from approach to landfall and beyond. Get the latest updates on Sally here.
Hurricane Sally slowed down more Monday evening, falling to 5 mph in forward speed from an earlier 6 mph speed reported earlier by the National Hurricane Center.
In the latest advisory issued by the hurricane center, Sally remains a Category 2 storm with 100 mph sustained winds and the potential for more intensity, according to the hurricane center. The storm is about 100 miles east of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The storm continues to slow down in its forward speed as it moves west-northwest, according to the 7 p.m. advisory. The hurricane had been moving by as much as 9 mph early Monday, but slowed to 5 mph Monday evening.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced the suspension of trash collection due to impact from Hurricane Laura expected Tuesday.
The storm is expected to bring heavy rains to the area, with the possibility of flash flooding, according to the National Weather Service.
New Orleans public schools announced they will be closed Tuesday as the area prepares for the impact of Hurricane Sally.
The school system also announced all distance learning programs are canceled Tuesday.
As Hurricane Sally continues moving west-northwest, the storm threatens flash flooding in areas of southeast Louisiana, including the New Orleans area, according to the National Weather Service in New Orleans.
The weather service issued a flash flood watch in lower Jefferson, lower Plaquemines, lower St. Bernard, Orleans, St. Tammany, Upper Jefferson, upper Plaquemines, upper St. Bernard, and Washington parishes through Thursday.
Southeast Louisiana could see as much as 7 inches of rainfall, with isolated higher amounts as Sally moves near and along the Louisiana coast, the weather service said.
Hurricane Sally continues to present life-threatening storm surge across the nearshore areas of Lake Pontchartrain and Maurepas outside of the hurricane protection system, and across coastal of areas from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Port Fourchon, according to the National Weather Service in New Orleans.
Although the storm's projected path has shifted east, the southeastern Louisiana area continues to be vulnerable to the storm's impact, the weather service noted in its latest advisory.
Federal emergency aid has been available to Louisiana ahead of Hurricane Sally.
FEMA has been authorized by President Donald Trump to "identify, mobilize and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency."
Sally: Latest track
Can't see the map? Click on this link from the National Hurricane Center
It's still too early to determine where Hurricane Sally will make landfall, forecasters warn.
Weak ridging over the southeastern U.S. is expected to steer Sally west-northwest through early Tuesday. After that, steering currents weaken and a northward motion is expected as a weak mid-level trough developed of the central U.S., allowing Sally to being a slow north-northwestward motion.
"The specific timing and location of the turn will be critical as to the eventual location and timing of landfall along the north-central Gulf Coast," National Hurricane forecasters said in an advisory. "Given the uncertainty in the timing and location of the northward turn and the lack of well-defined steering currents, users are reminded to not focus on the exact forecast track or the specific timing and location of landfall."
The storm has shifted slightly east, pulling away from the Louisiana coast and forecasters aren't predicting a Plaquemines landfall, but instead think it will move near the coast of southeastern Louisiana before making landfall.
It's still moving slowly at about 6 mph.
Despite the eastward shift, hurricane warnings still remain in effect from Morgan City to Navarre, Florida. But tropical storm warnings were dropped for Vermilion, Iberia, St. Mary and St. Martin parishes.
South-central Louisiana could see wind gusts of 30-40 mph Tuesday. Southwest Louisiana and central Louisiana could see gusts from 25-35 mph.
Hurricane Sally has reached 100 mph, making it a Category 2, as it slowly moves toward the central north Gulf Coast.
"Now that Sally has developed an inner core, the favorable atmospheric and ocean conditions of low vertical wind shear and warm water should allow for additional strengthening (Monday night) while the system moves over the north-central Gulf of Mexico," according to a National Hurricane Center advisory. "Sally could approach major hurricane strength."
As Hurricane Sally churned in the Gulf of Mexico, it temporarily shut down one-fifth of the Gulf's oil production. It also stopped 25% of the Gulf's natural gas production as of mid-day.
Combined, Sally and Laura have taken almost 1 million barrels per day of refinery capacity offline, according to a consulting firm.
So far, the storms' impact is unlikely to be felt at the gas pump, though that could change depending on Sally's path, analysts said.
A text from the New Orleans alert system warned that the area could still feel strong impacts from Hurricane Sally.
"While forecast cone continues to track east, still a lot of uncertainty. Heavy rain, high winds and storm surge outside levees still likely," the text said.
As Hurricane Sally moved toward the Gulf Coast, wave heights were starting to increase in the Gulf of Mexico.
South of Mobile Bay, Alabama, wave heights were measured at about 16 feet and south of Plaquemines Parish waves were starting measure at 11 feet, according to WKRG meteorologist Caroline Carithers.
2:50 p.m. Monday: Hurricane Sally's shift may lessen impact to Louisiana
Hurricane Sally's northeastern shift means Louisiana may feel less of an impact, according to Ryan Truchelut, the chief meteorologist and co-founder of WeatherTiger.
When Sally's circulation center was shifted, it changed the expected location of greatest wind and surge impacts. While a slow west-northwest track has since resumed, the hurricane is likely to stall out east of Louisiana by early Tuesday, with the glacial turn north or north-northeast through the day more likely to be aimed in the general direction of the Mississippi or Alabama Gulf Coast.
For Louisiana, this means expected impacts have diminished. Extreme eastern Louisiana may still catch strong winds and surge from the western side of Sally’s core, but areas from New Orleans west are now likely to see relatively minimal impacts — mostly intermittent showers with some embedded gusty winds.
State agencies are preparing boats in case search and rescue efforts are needed after Hurricane Sally.
The Louisiana State Fire Marshal's office has 141 boat crews staged throughout the state and Wildlife and Fisheries has 70 agents with boats, Gov. John Bel Edwards said during an afternoon press conference.
In addition, the Louisiana National Guard has more than 4,800 members activated to help with Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Sally.
2:15 p.m. Monday: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards gives update on 'slow-moving storm'
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards offered an update on Hurricane Sally, which has continued to shift to the east. Despite that, parts of Louisiana, including much of the New Orleans metro area remains in the cone of uncertainty.
"It remains a very slow-moving storm," Edwards said. "What we know with a slow-moving storm if one of those bands settles over part of Louisiana, we know that flooding is going to be a big concern."
Edwards said recovery from Hurricane Laura will continue even as the state prepares for and recovers from Hurricane Sally.
Hurricane Sally is the fourth hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico in 2020. According to meteorologist Philip Klotzbach, only five other years on record had four or more Gulf of Mexico hurricanes by Sept. 24 — 1886, 1933, 1936, 2005 and 2017.
The U.S. Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters team is preparing to fly from Texas into Hurricane Sally to gather data about the intensifying storm.
It's the team's eight mission to Sally.
The National Weather Service has placed extreme portions of southeast Louisiana under a high risk of excessive rainfall, with projections of 36 hours of rain, at times heavy.
The threat from Hurricane Sally is large bands of storms covering the area even if the hurricane does not make landfall in Louisiana, the weather service said.
Because Sally is expected to move slowly, to as little as 3 mph, there are areas of Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes that will face excessive rains, some areas potentially as much as 20 inches, the weather service said. Those rainfall amounts could increase if the storm shifts west more.
Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes face the greatest threat Tuesday of hurricane gusts with Sally's approach to southeast Louisiana, according to the National Weather Service in New Orleans.
Orleans and St. Tammany parishes could experience tropical storm-force winds Tuesday if Sally continues on a track that takes it east of New Orleans, the weather service said.
While forecasters have shifted Hurricane Sally's projected path slightly east, southeast Louisiana remains vulnerable based on two factors - when the storm slows down more and when it makes the turn north, according to the National Weather Service in New Orleans.
If the storm takes longer to slow down and to take the northern turn toward Mississippi, that would shift Sally's track west to a landfall in southeast Louisiana, the weather service said. The storm now is expected to continue its west-northwest direction through Monday.
Hurricane Sally is expected to slow down more as it continues intensifying in the Gulf of Mexico and arrive at the mouth of the Mississippi at 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in New Orleans.
The storm is expected to make landfall as a Category 2 storm Tuesday. It is continuing a west-northwest path, which should continue through Monday, the weather service said.
12:30 p.m. Monday: Weather Channel's Jim Cantore spotted in New Orleans
Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore was spotted in downtown New Orleans on Monday morning by several people and construction workers at the site on the Riverfront.
Cantore was expected to head toward the Mississippi Gulf Coast Monday afternoon.
The National Hurricane Center reported Sally's highest sustained winds now at 90 mph as it continues to travel over warm Gulf waters that are expected to help it intensify. The hurricane center upgraded the wind speed about 30 minutes after reporting maximum winds at 85 mph.
The storm, which is rapidly intensifying, is about 165 southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi, traveling at about 7 mph, the hurricane center said in its latest advisory.
The Lakefront floodgate in the West End of Orleans Parish, WWL reported. Once the gate is closed, people can get out but vehicles cannot.
The idea is to keep people and cars away from that portion of the lakefront. Other floodgates in Plaquemines Parish will be closed on Belle Chasse Highway and at the Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes border.
Tropical Storm Sally has developed into Hurricane Sally. Data from a hurricane hunter aircraft indicated the system has rapidly intensified and reached maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. The central pressure has decreased to 985 mb.
The storm is still moving at about 6 mph and is located about 135 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Tropical Storm Sally, which is strengthening as it slowly approaches land, is expected to bring powerful winds to the Gulf Coast.
Tropical storm speeds begin around 39 mph. 57 mph is an average tropical storm. 74 mph is a Category 1 hurricane.
New Orleans has a 72% chance of seeing 39 mph winds and a 26% chance of seeing 57 mph winds. Baton Rouge and Morgan City have about a 40% chance of seeing 39 mph winds and a 5% chance of seeing 57 mph winds.
Lafayette and New Iberia have a 20% chance of seeing 39 mph winds.
Some of the highest winds are expected to the west of Tropical Storm Sally's track. Kessler Air Force Base in Mississippi has a 33% chance of seeing 74 mph winds. Gulf Port, Mississippi, and Buras, Louisiana, have about a 20% chance fo seeing 74 mph winds. In Mobile, Alabama, there's a 15% chance for 74 mph winds.
Tropical Storm Sally's maximum sustained winds have increased to 65 mph but is moving at about 6 mph toward land. Its pressure has decreased several millibars to 991 MB.
Sally is expected to strengthen into a hurricane later Monday. Life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfalls are expected to accompany the storm.
The system tracked slightly east, but forecasters say it's too early to determine where Sally's center will move onshore.
The below graphic shows spaghetti model changes for Tropical Storm Sally starting on Sept. 11.
Tropical Storm Vicky formed in the Atlantic. It is expected to be a short-lived storm and doesn't pose a threat to land, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Vicky set the record for the earliest 20th named storm. The previous record was held by Tammy on Oct. 5, 2005.
Anticipating high rainfall totals and potential flooding, highwater vehicles and boats are being staged in New Orleans, according to Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Residents should expect to stay indoors and off the road during the storm.
Drivers should not navigate through flooding waters.
9:20 a.m. Monday: Terrebonne, Lafourche residents make final preparations
Residents in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes are making their final preparations before the arrival of Tropical Storm Sally. Shelters have opened and the floodgates in Terrebonne have closed.
Terrebonne Parish President Gordy Dove said he was confident the parish was ready for Sally’s arrival.
“Unless this thing moves on us and takes a drastic turn, we’re in pretty good shape,” Dove said. “We’re ready for both the rain and storm surge. We pumped down all of our systems and all of our pumps are working. I think we’ll get some wind and up to 3 feet of water, but our levees can take up to at least 11 feet.”
Coastal flooding was observed in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, well ahead of Tropical Storm Laura's arrival. The storm surge in that area is expected to be 7-11 feet.
Hancock County, where Bay St. Louis is located, is under a mandatory evacuation for those living in low-lying areas, along rivers or other bodies of water, and those living in mobile homes.
There are now five active tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Basin, according to the National Weather Service. Four are named storms — Paulette, Rene, Sally and Teddy. The other is Tropical Depression 21.
As Tropical Storm Sally approaches southeast Louisiana, weather conditions will continue to deteriorate, with more wind and rain expected. Hurricane conditions could be felt later today, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Along Lake Pontchartrain's south shore, things are already picking up, according to one resident's video of choppy waters.
Weather forecasters from across the country are tweeting Monday morning about the latest satellite imagery of Tropical Storm Sally that shows significant lightening strikes and "a very intense convective burst." That burst is an eruption of storm activity that often comes with better organization of a tropical system as it strengthening.
All of that translates, they say, to signs of intensification as the storm slowly moves west-northwest through the Gulf of Mexico.
The National Hurricane Center reports that Sally is expected to bring hurricane conditions later today within portions of the hurricane warning area from Morgan City to the Mississippi/Alabama border, including the New Orleans area. Tropical Storm Sally has sustained maximum winds of 65 mph, with strengthening to continue Monday into a hurricane.
The warning area could begin experiencing tropical storm conditions by late morning, with the outer bands of the storm pushing ahead of its expected landfall in southeast Louisiana. Preparations should be rushed to completion in those areas, the hurricane center states.
Tropical Storm Sally increased maximum sustained winds to 65 mph and now is traveling about 8 mph, moving to the west-northwest, according to the latest National Hurricane Center advisory.
Sally had maintained maximum 60 mph winds for most of Sunday and was moving at about 9 mph. The storm is expected to become a hurricane Monday and its forward speed is expected to continue to slow down.
Areas of Orleans Parish are under a mandatory evacuation order in preparation for Tropical Storm Sally, including Venetian Isles.
One resident tied a boat parked in the driveway with a long rope line to a tree and light pole. The area could experience storm surge and flooding rains, so it appears the idea is the boat won't travel far.
Shelters are open for some southeast Louisiana residents before Sally's landfall. The Raceland Recreation Center is available for Lafourche Parish residents. Lafourche Parish is under a mandatory evacuation for the area south of the flood-protection system in Golden Meadow, including the oilfield service hub at Port Fourchon.
The Houma Municipal Auditorium also is open for Terrebonne Parish evacuees. A voluntary evacuation is in place for the few dozen families in Terrebonne Parish outside the flood-protection system.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said there are around 2,500 line-workers and contractors ready to help with power restoration in the wake of Sally, which is expected to make landfall in southeast Louisiana as a hurricane.
Edwards said if necessary, the state can call in as many as 3,000 more workers to help restore power if necessary.
With heavy rains and flash flooding expected from Sally, New Orleans has announced it will suspend all bus and streetcar services at noon on Monday.
Tropical Storm Sally is expected to intensify Monday into a hurricane, with landfall early Tuesday morning. The National Hurricane Center has estimated as much as 12 inches of rain in some areas around New Orleans.
6 a.m. Monday: Tropical Storm Sally in more favorable hurricane waters
Although Sally didn't strengthen much Sunday, the National Hurricane Center continues to call for intensification today as storm continues moving west-northwest through the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana.
Conditions remain favorable, even more so Monday, for strengthening as the storm is impacted less by shear and moves over warm, open Gulf waters. Sally is expected to make landfall, perhaps as a Category 2, early Tuesday morning and begin its slow, gradual move through southeast Louisiana toward Mississippi.