UPDATE 1:05pm Saturday (WDHN) — The National Hurricane Center continues to forecast a strengthening system in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Tropical Storm Sally formed just off to the western tip of southern Florida Saturday afternoon. As of the 1pm Saturday advisory from NHC, Tropical Storm Sally has winds of 40 mph as it drifts westward.
Forecasters believe the system will become a hurricane late Monday as it moves toward the northern Gulf coast. Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watches may be required for additional parts of the Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and northwest Florida coastlines later Saturday.
Stay with the WDHN First Alert STORM TEAM for more updates this weekend.
DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) – A tropical depression is expected to move into the eastern Gulf of Mexico Saturday, likely gaining strength over the warm waters in that area.
As of Saturday morning, the system was rather disorganized, bringing heavy rain with rain squalls to the southern peninsula of Florida.
The National Hurricane Center is expecting the depression to intensify into a tropical storm Saturday night over the eastern Gulf.
Thereafter, forecasters at NHC anticipate the system will move toward the northern Gulf coast, perhaps becoming a hurricane just before landfall somewhere between Pensacola and New Orleans by Tuesday morning based on the latest data coming in Saturday morning. That forecast track and intensity could change.
The latest advisories from the National Hurricane Center include:
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* Ochlockonee River to Okaloosa/Walton County, Florida Line
For the Wiregrass, increased moisture will continue to bring balmy conditions to the region all weekend. More moisture will mean increased rain and thunderstorm chances. Expect breezy conditions to pick up late Sunday into Monday.
The WDHN First Alert STORM TEAM is monitoring the system closely. While low at this time, an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out Monday as the outer bands of the tropical system move nearby. For now, one to two inches of rain will become common across a wide part of the Wiregrass between Monday and Wednesday morning.
A great deal of uncertainty exists with the current forecast track. Everyone living along the northern Gulf Coast – including the Wiregrass – should pay attention to the latest forecasts over the next 24 to 48 hours.