Sally intensifies, could wallop U.S. coast with 110-mph winds


BAY ST LOUIS, Miss./HOUSTON (Reuters) - Hurricane Sally rapidly strengthened on Monday over the Gulf of Mexico, the U. S. National Hurricane Center said, and could hit the central Gulf Coast on Tuesday as nearly a major hurricane.

The second strong storm in less than a month to threaten the region, Sally’s winds increased to 100 miles per hour (155 kph). It could wallop the Mississippi and Alabama coasts on Tuesday with devastating winds of up to 110 mph, on the cusp of becoming a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity, the NHC said.

Hurricanes are considered to have the potential for devastating damage when they have sustained winds past 111 mph (179 kph).

Mississippi and Louisiana called for evacuations of low-lying areas and President Donald Trump issued an emergency disaster declaration for both states. Alabama closed the state’s beaches and recommended evacuations of residents in low-lying areas.

“We are going to bear the brunt of this storm,” Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves told residents on Monday, warning that rainfall forecasts along the coast could exceed 20 inches (50.8 cm).

Ports, schools and businesses were closing along the coast.

Map: Energy companies, ports and refiners along the U. S. Gulf coast are bracing for impact from Hurricane Sally

“We have to make sure that everything is tied down and out of the way so it doesn’t float away or become airborne,” said Steve Forstall, a Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, port employee.

Water from the bay spilled onto a beachside roadway in the coastal town, roughly 50 miles (80 km) northeast of New Orleans. Workers were boarding up homes and securing items that could become projectiles in high winds as residents filled sandbags, and moved cars and boats to higher ground.

The U. S. Coast Guard restricted travel on the lower Mississippi River in New Orleans to the Gulf, and closed the ports of Pascagoula and Gulfport, Mississippi, and Mobile,... (Read more)

Submitted 323 days ago

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