Why Hurricane Sally's slow movement makes it more dangerous over Gulf Coast

A resident looks at the broken power cable as it lies on the street during Hurricane Sally in Pascagoula, Mississippi on September 16, 2020.

CHANDAN KHANNA | AFP via Getty Images

Hurricane Sally stalled over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall early Wednesday, bringing heavy rain to coastal communities in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. 

The storm’s incredibly slow pace, which at times was just 3 miles per hour, as well as its stalling over the Gulf represent a climate change effect that’s triggered rainier and more destructive and frequent storms. Slower storms unleash more rain and long-lasting winds. As of Wednesday morning, Sally was heading northeast at about 5 mph. 

Sally comes as the U.S. West Coast battles historic wildfires made worse by human-caused climate change. The blazes have wiped out entire communities in Oregon and Washington state, decimated a record number of acres in California and caused some of the worst air quality in the world in those regions. 

The pace of tropical storms making landfall has slowed during the last several decades. The lingering creates worse rainfall and flooding. North Atlantic hurricanes specifically have been moving slower and stalling more frequently over the past even decades, according to research by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Other research suggests that warming in the Arctic has weakened atmospheric circulation, which is likely affecting hurricane speed by causing a slowing of the jet stream.

“Our own work suggests that climate change is favoring precisely such jet stream behavior,” said Michael E. Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State and an author of the report. 

Sally’s stalling is comparable to Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which flooded parts of Houston with 60 inches of rainfall after it stalled and was downgraded to a tropical storm. In 2018, Hurricane Florence also stalled over North Carolina’s coast. And in 2019, Hurricane Dorian caused massive destruction and at least 70 deaths when it lingered over the Bahamas for more than a day.   

Research also shows that global warming has intensified extreme rainstorms in the U.S. and other parts of the world.  

“Rainstorms are getting measurably more intense as a result of global warming. Sally’s rains will be devastating,” Climate scientist Eric Holthaus wrote in a tweet. “We are in a climate emergency.” 

The U.S. is experiencing its worst hurricane season on record, with 20 named storms so far. Forecasters have nearly run through the alphabet of names for storms this season. Behind Sally, several more storms are developing in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Scientists also say that climate change has made hurricane season more dangerous by triggering more rapidly intensifying storms. For instance, last month Hurricane Laura, the fastest-intensifying hurricane ever in the Gulf of Mexico, devastated parts of Louisiana and Texas and left at least 15 people dead. 

“What is more concerning is the recent trend in hurricanes rapidly intensifying to become much stronger right up until the time of landfall in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Ryan Maue, who runs the website weathermodels.com. “Previous decades saw the opposite almost as a rule: storms moving toward the coast would weaken prior to landfall.”

A man walks though a flooded parking lot as the outer bands of Hurricane Sally come ashore on September 15, 2020 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The storm is bringing heavy rain, high winds and a dangerous storm surge from Louisiana to Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

President Donald Trump has issued emergency declarations for parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Forecasters warn that areas from the western Florida Panhandle to southeastern Mississippi could have up to 35 inches of rain.

Sally has already hit properties in southeast Louisiana and highways along the Mississippi coast, and brought forceful winds and rain from Pensacola Beach, Florida, westward to Dauphin Island, Alabama. Sally is forecast to hit the Gulf Coast with as much as two and a half feet of rain  in the next several days. The National Hurricane Center on Wednesday warned of catastrophic and life-threatening floods in parts of the north-central Gulf Coast.

“Hurricane Sally is nothing to take for granted. We’re looking at record flooding, perhaps breaking historic levels, and with rising water comes a greater risk for loss of life and loss of property,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.

Met Office weather warnings UPGRADED: 40mm of rain to bring damaging flooding TODAY

Met Office weather forecasters have extended yellow warnings today, as the UK deals with the remnants of Storm Francis. The country has dealt with a week of extremes, with two named storms emerging within a matter of days. Both pounded the country with thunderstorms, torrential downpours and gale-force winds, which pose a unique risk during summer.

Met Office forecasters have levelled two weather warnings over the UK today. 

The first is in place for the northeast coast, as one warning which dissipated over Newcaslte earlier this warning has now been replaced by another over Scarborough. 

Forecasters said “persistent” rainfall could see up to 40mm (1.5 inches) poured out over the region.

The warning reads: “Further rainfall is expected during Friday; 15-25 mm will fall quite widely, with a few places seeing 30-40 mm, especially across the North York Moors.

“Following persistent rainfall overnight some disruption is possible.”



UK storm tracker: Atlantic cyclone Storm Francis churning towards UK – Flooding forecast

The UK’s 2019/2020 storm season is almost at its end, but before the new season begins the UK is forecast to be pummelled by strong winds and heavy rain as another named storm hits the country. Storm Francis is predicted to hit the UK less than a week after the powerful Storm Ellen hit Ireland and parts of Britain. But what does the flooding forecast reveal about the next storm?

A strong Atlantic storm is pushing a windstorm into the UK and Ireland on Tuesday.

The broad wind field is due to hit bringing heavy rain and wind.

Storm Francis is due to impact parts of Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands on Tuesday where flooding is possible.

The frontal system moves across Wales and UK on Tuesday morning and continues towards the northeast.

Heavy rain with wind squalls will be associated with the surface front.

READ MORE: BBC Weather: Storms and ‘unseasonable wind’ spark temperature plunge

The second yellow weather warning in effect on Tuesday is for rain which is in place from midnight on Tuesday to 6am on Wednesday.

This warning is in effect across parts of south-west Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Met Office warning reads: “Storm Francis will bring another spell of very wet and windy weather during Tuesday and early Wednesday.

“Total rainfall accumulations are expected to reach 20mm to 40mm (0.8 to 1.6 inches) widely across the area with as much as 60mm to 90mm (2.4 to 3.5 inches) for parts of Northern Ireland and south-west Scotland, particularly over high ground.

“Strong east to north-easterly winds are also expected to develop, with gusts of 50mph affecting exposed coasts and hills.”

There is also a weather warning for rain advising of similar rainfall accumulations covering parts of northeast England, north-west England, Wales and Yorkshire and Humber.

The cyclone’s path moving across Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK is due to unleash heavy rainfall amounts.

This may lead to an enhanced flooding threat locally as the soil, especially across northern England, is already soaked.

Several parts of northwest England, north Wales are likely to see flooding on Tuesday and early Wednesday according to the Environment Agency.

Land, roads and some properties will flood and there will be travel disruption.

Local river flooding is also possible over Wales and parts of the west and north of England on Tuesday and Wednesday which is due to heavy and persistent rain from Storm Francis.

Meanwhile, local surface water flooding is also possible across parts of southern England.

On Wednesday local minor coastal flooding is possible but is not expected along with parts of the north-east coast of England due to strong winds associated with storm Francis.

Minor surface water flooding is also possible but not expected on Thursday and Friday in parts of England and Wales and some land, roads and some properties may flood and there may be travel disruption.

Specifically, the following regions are predicted to be impacted.

In Wales:

  • Ceredigion
  • Conwy
  • Denbighshire
  • Flintshire
  • Gwynedd
  • Isle of Anglesey
  • Powys
  • Wrexham.

North West:

  • Blackburn with Darwen
  • Blackpool
  • Cheshire
  • Cumbria
  • Gtr Manchester
  • Halton
  • Lancashire
  • Merseyside
  • Warrington.

North East:

  • Darlington
  • Durham
  • N Yorkshire
  • Northumberland
  • Tyne and Wear
  • West Yorkshire.

In Scotland there are currently 10 flood alerts in effect across the following regions:

  • Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City
  • Argyll and Bute
  • Ayrshire and Arran
  • Central
  • Dumfries and Galloway
  • Dundee and Angus
  • Edinburgh and Lothians
  • Fife
  • Scottish Borders
  • West Central Scotland



BBC Weather: Carol Kirkwood issues widespread flooding alerts as thunderstorms erupt in UK

On Sunday the UK saw some torrential thundery downpours leading to some flooding across parts of East Anglia, Lincolnshire and the Midlands. BBC meteorologist Carol Kirkwood has warned there is the potential for similar on Monday with some further heavy downpours and still thundery. However, she also noted that in between there’ll be some sunny spells in the weather.

Ms Kirkwood told viewers: “At the moment we’ve got some heavy rain moving across northern England.

“Through the day that’s going to be pushing up into southern Scotland and Northern Ireland, turning more showery.

“But even so there could still be some heavy thundery bursts in it.

“At the same time, we’ve got a lot of cloud and some rain across Wales.”

READ MORE: BBC Weather: Scorching heatwave threatened in Europe by flash flooding

She continued: “Through the day we’ll see further heavy thundery downpours develop across England and Wales.

“It will remain fairly cloudy across Scotland and Northern Ireland too.

“Temperatures will range from 15 in the north to 24 or 25 somewhere in the south east.

“Through this evening and overnight, we still hang onto a fair bit of cloud.”

Ms Kirkwood said: “It will be humid by day, humid by night, looking at overnight lows of 12 to 15 degrees.

“Tomorrow it will be cloudy again for some of us and there’ll be some sunny spells.

“But there’ll still be showers around and still the potential for some of them to be heavy and thundery.

“This will lead to the risk of flash flooding, especially across parts of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland.

“But we’ll also see them across England and Wales.”



Flooding map: Thunderstorms to continue as parts of UK submerged by deadly flash floods

Thunderstorms forecast for the next five days are expected to see huge regions of Britain underwater after the country saw its longest stretch of high temperatures since the 1960s. The Met Office has issued several severe weather warnings for thunderstorms through to Monday next week with the forecaster warning of a small change of flooding and disruption.

Parts of Britain have been submerged after intense downpours caused flooding across parts of Britain.

Three people died after a passenger train derailed in Aberdeenshire on Wednesday reportedly after it was hit by a landslide following heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Several other regions of Britain also saw intense rainfall and subsequent flooding.

A major incident has been declared in Fife after torrential rain and thunderstorms battered parts of central and eastern Scotland.

READ MORE: Storm tracker: ‘Danger to life’ warning as lightning storms hit UK

The Met Office has issued four yellow weather warnings between Thursday, August 13 and Monday, August 17.

Parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland have been warned of an area of thundery showers may develop from early Thursday morning bringing disruption from lightning, heavy rainfall and hail.

This warning is in effect from 1am to 11am on Thursday.

A second warning is in effect on Thursday across most of England and all of Wales advising some areas are likely to see severe thunderstorms.

The Met Office warning states there is a small chance of flooding with damage to some buildings from floodwater, lightning strikes, hail or strong winds.

Where flooding happens there could be a danger to life due to the fast-flowing or deep floodwater, in addition to disruption to travel and possible power outages.

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Where is flooding likely across the UK as thunderstorms continue?

Some six flood alerts have been implemented by the Environment Agency across England.

The flood alerts are in place in the following areas:

  • River Blythe in Warwickshire
  • River Cole
  • River Rea
  • River Sow and River Penk
  • River Stour and Smestow Brook in the Black Country and South Staffordshire
  • Upper Tame

Most of the UK is at low risk of flooding through the next four days according to the Environment Agency.

In Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has put 13 flood alerts into effect:

These alerts are in effect across:

  • Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City
  • Argyll and Bute
  • Central
  • Dumfries and Galloway
  • Dundee and Angus
  • Easter Ross and Great Glen
  • Edinburgh and Lothians
  • Fife
  • Findhorn Nairn Moray and Speyside
  • Scottish Borders
  • Skye and Lochaber
  • Tayside
  • West Central Scotland.

There are currently no flood warnings or flood alerts in force in Wales according to Natural Resources Wales.



Stonehaven tragedy: Dramatic video shows severe flooding on tracks near train crash horror

Two people are feared to have died in a tragic train crash in Scotland. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that there had been reports of severe injuries due to a train derailment at Stonehaven, which is located along the Aberdeenshire coast. Network Rail Scotland shared footage of flooded train tracks to Twitter, confirming that they had recieved reports of a landslip at Carmont, near to the incident.

Services are no longer operating between Dundee and Aberdeen for the time being.

Scotland Rail have said they are assisting the emergency services with the incident near Stonehaven and will provide more information when available.

British Transport Police also confirmed that they are currently responding to the accident in Aberdeenshire.

According to BTP, officers were called to the scene at 9:43am and have remained there alongside paramedics and the fire brigade.

READ MORE: Aberdeen train crash: Two feared dead, others injured and trapped 

The train derailed following heavy rain overnight with Stonehaven and surrounding areas having been hit by floods in recent days.

There are suggestions that the landslide may have played a part in the derailment, although this has not confirmed by the authorities.

Two air ambulances and about 30 emergency service vehicles have been seen in a field just above the scene of the derailment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “I am saddened to learn of the very serious incident in Aberdeenshire and my thoughts are with all of those affected. My thanks to the emergency services at the scene.”

More to follow…



BBC Weather: Thunderstorms threaten UK amid flash flooding alert and brutal hail showers

BBC Weather forecaster Sarah Keith-Lucas warned BBC Breakfast viewers large hail and flash flooding could be expected as a result of relentless thunderstorms hitting the UK in the next 48 hours. She said: “The heaviest of thunderstorms look to be easing in the east of Scotland but there could be some heavy ones cropping up further south across parts of Scotland, England and Wales. Northern Ireland looking mostly dry through the day.

“Temperatures could be slightly lower than recent days, around about 32C or so. But one or two spots could see the temperatures again today up to about 34C. So another hot day.

“As we head on into the evening hours we’ll start to see more of those heavy showers and thunderstorms, particularly across parts of southern England and Wales as we move overnight and into tomorrow morning.”

She added: “Heading through tomorrow it looks like eventually something slightly cooler is on the cards but it is still quite a humid day.

“With further heavy showers and thunderstorms especially across parts of southern England tomorrow and Wales as well.

“So expect some flash flooding and possibly some large hail as well.”

READ MORE: UK storm warning: Why does it thunder after hot weather?

The Met Office has upgraded its weather warnings for the region from yellow to an amber alert.

In a statement on its website, the Met Office warned that the East of Scotland was be battered with thundery showers overnight.

They added: “Thundery showers are likely to gradually move northwards overnight with continuing areas of torrential rain, frequent lightning and hail as well as perhaps gusty winds.

“Where the storms become heaviest and most prolonged rainfall totals of 30-40 mm could fall in an hour with some places potentially receiving 60-80 mm in 3 to 6 hours, although only a few sites will see these totals with perhaps parts of Fife seeing these early in the night and the far northeast on Wednesday morning.”

“Power cuts may occur and other services to some homes and businesses could be lost.”

The thundery rain should mostly clear out from Scotland by midday, but for the rest of the UK thunderstorms could crop up by the evening.

A yellow warning for thunderstorms and flooding has been issued by the Met Office for nearly all of the UK, excluding West Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Temperatures will remain as high as 32C (89.6F) around 5pm in London and much of the South East.

For the morning it will remain clear and sunny, but after midday intermittent thunderstorms could breakout as the heatwave begins to falter.

Wales and the West of England will see marginally cooler temperatures of around 27C (80.6F), but northern winds will bring a clash with the plume of heat, making thunderstorms and showers much more likely in these areas.



BBC Weather: Scorching heatwave threatened in Europe by flash flooding and 'damaging' wind

BBC meteorologist Susan Powell warned that heat remains the big weather story across Europe at the moment. Heatwave conditions will continue to affect Iberia, France, the low countries, the UK and parts of Scandinavia for the next few days. In some areas, temperatures will be 10 degrees above average.

Ms Powell told viewers: “But look towards the west and you can see things are starting to turn increasingly unsettled through mid-week.

“An area of low pressure will be developing in the bay of Biscay and all those thunderstorms will start to feed their way north.

“Further east, it’s a pretty typical picture for the time of year with sunshine for Cyprus, the Greek Islands and mainland Greece and Turkey too.

“There’ll just be the odd showers affecting mainland Greece through Wednesday.”

READ MORE: BBC Weather: 40C heatwave scorcher to be halted by incoming downpours

She continued: “That will stretch down from this area which will push down into the Balkans.

“It’s looking a little bit showery across the Alps as well, but the heaviest rain will likely be where we see this area of low pressure developing.

“It will be pretty wet across northern Portugal and some heavy rain getting into France and spreading across the UK overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

“There could even be some flash flooding and some gusty damaging winds as well.”

Further east though, the picture remains settled for Athens and for Heraklion.

Temperatures will remain in the low to mid 30s for Athens while Heraklion will hang around 29 degrees.

Berlin will see a change at the weekend as the 30 degrees temperatures drop slightly and the sky becomes cloudier.

Moscow, in contrast, won’t break into the 20s as the weekend sees 19 degrees at its highest.

London and Paris will see a real mix in the mid to high 20s with possible thunderstorms and patches of rain.



Good Samaritans save family from floodwaters

WEST MARLBOROUGH TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — On Tuesday, an incredibly risky water rescue in Chester County was caught on camera.

Four strangers, turned good Samaritans, saved a father and four children from a sinking vehicle as the floodwaters continued to rise.

The video out of West Marlborough Township is heart racing, and shows the true bravery of everyday heroes.

“You can see how strong the river is and it’s pulling them away,” says Dan DiGregorio, of Phoenixville, one of four strangers who rushed in to save them. “Honestly, out of nowhere, this backhoe comes around the corner and we immediately started screaming at the guy driving it.”

That’s when the group moved in to help.

“We’re yelling at the dad who’s now about 15 feet away from the car with his baby in his arms. He’s almost going under. So, we tell him get back to the car,” DiGregorio said.

The four strangers made a human chain, holding onto each other’s belts, to get the family members out, one by one.

The oldest child almost slipped away, but DiGregorio was able to grab him by the wrist.

“Even last night, I couldn’t sleep because I can still see the fear in his eyes as I’m holding on to them. Because if I let go, he’s gone,” he said. “We were all very lucky. I mean, it wasn’t smart by any of us, but it was something that had to be done as soon as possible.”

DiGregorio, along with David MacDonald, Tom Garner and Walter Puddifer are now connected by the incredible moment.

“None of us knew each other,” he says. “We were from everywhere, from different countries. Who cares who we are? Everybody’s family and everybody needs to take care of each other.”

They are now are looking for the family to check in.

Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.



China faces financial RUIN: Fresh COVID-19 outbreaks and severe flooding hit Beijing hard

Although China became one of the first countries to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, analysts have confirmed parts of the economy will struggle to recover in the long-term. China’s gross domestic product shrank by 6.8 percent in the first three months of the year due to coronavirus. The retail sector, in particular, was heavily hit by the virus and added to the impact of severe flooding in parts of the country, may struggle to recover.

S&P Global Ratings Asia-Pacific economist Shaun Roache said: “Consumption remains weak.

“Retail sales are stabilising, but even in June, remained below the levels recorded at the same time in 2019.

“Export growth stays patchy given the stuttering recovery in the rest of the world.”

After a spike in COVID-19 cases, retail sales in Beijing dropped a huge 26.9 percent last month in comparison with the same time last year.

Floods in China have affected 50 million people in the country with a further 41,000 homes damaged due to the heavy rains flooding the Yangtze, Yellow and Huai rivers.

Due to the horrific floods, some analysts have stated China’s manufacturing and construction sectors will struggle to recover.

Zhao Qinghe, senior statistician at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Friday: “Small companies continue to face pressure on both supply and demand.

“Some enterprises reported that flood-related disasters caused disruptions to logistics and transportation, along with problems like flooding in plants, equipment and inventory.”

JUST IN: South China Sea: US DOUBLES spy plane missions despite ‘no need’

Amid the decision on the removal of Huawei kit and the international outcry over the Hong Kong security law, the ambassador has warned relations are now “seriously poisoned”.

He also urged the UK to resist pressure from the US to put sanctions on Beijing.

In a press conference last week, he indicated a decoupling of relations between the UK and China, would seriously harm Britain post-Brexit future.

Liu said: “It is hard to imagine a global Britain that bypasses or excludes China.

“Decoupling from China means decoupling from opportunities, decoupling from growth and decoupling from the future.

“China respects UK sovereignty and has never interfered in the UK’s internal affairs.