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  • Writer's pictureBryan Norcross


Sally’s winds have died down, but the rain keeps falling. Along the Gulf coast, the storm surge flooding is receding, but rainwater flowing down the rivers will keep water levels high in some areas until it all drains out to the Gulf.

After two days of stalling and looping and reforming, the center of Sally’s eye finally came ashore yesterday morning over Gulf Shores, Alabama – just east of Mobile Bay. That meant the big push of Gulf water – the storm surge – was east of there in Pensacola and the surrounding area where the onshore winds were focused.

Mobile Bay dodged a huge bullet because the bay is shaped like a funnel. If storm surge comes in at the bottom, it has to spread out over land at the top. But instead, the Gulf water was pushed up the rivers and inlets in the western Florida Panhandle, flooding downtown Pensacola and surrounding neighborhoods as the waterways filled up.

As Sally dies out, it will continue to spread heavy rain with potential flooding in a corridor across Georgia, the Carolinas, and southeastern Virginia.

Elsewhere in the tropics, more annoying things are happening.

The smudge of a system we have been following in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico – Disturbance #1 – has developed a clear circulation. It looks likely to organize into a tropical depression or tropical storm very soon.

The computer forecast models are not reliable with a developing system like this, but the general tendency is to drift it north or northwest. It appears will have another slow-moving storm in the Gulf with the annoying uncertainty that comes with that.

Everybody from Texas around to the Florida Panhandle on the northern Gulf coast needs to stay aware of developments with this system. As with Sally, things could develop quickly. There is not much maneuvering room in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the Atlantic, the big story is Hurricane Teddy. It is forecast to expand and intensify into a big, strong hurricane as it moves in the general direction of Bermuda – which is just getting over its head-on crash with Hurricane Paulette. It’s too soon to know the level of threat there from Teddy, however.

Social media has been buzzing about the possibility of Teddy eventually hooking left and impacting northern New England next week. It’s not impossible, but there are lots of forks in the road between now and then. Still, people along the coast north of Cape Cod and in Atlantic Canada should stay aware of the latest forecasts.

The system that was Hurricane Paulette is now a strong winter-type storm in the North Atlantic. The forecast track on ex-Paulette is goofy – it hangs a hard right in a couple of days. If it runs over warm enough water on its trip south, it could become tropical again. If it got a name, they would reuse Paulette because the circulation never dissipated.

Whether it does or not, the consensus is that Paulette will not affect land.

Tropical Storm Vicky is still hanging on, but barely. Its days are almost over. This one won’t affect land either.

Disturbance #2 is not getting organized yet. It’s drifting to the west in the direction of the Caribbean islands, but it’s moving slowly. Nothing is going to happen anytime soon with this system, if it ever does. Atmospheric conditions up ahead are not very conducive for strengthening.

Disturbance #1 and Disturbance #2 have been in a race to use the last regular name on the list: Wilfred. Now it looks like the Gulf system is going to win. The following storm will be named Tropical Storm Alpha.

The only question now seems to be, how many Greek letters are we going to use. In 2005, we used the first six.

Disturbance #3 is a healthy-looking non-tropical system in the far northeastern Atlantic. It’s drifting south toward warmer water and has a slight chance of getting tropical enough to rate a Greek-letter name in a few days.

We’ll keep an eye on that Gulf system, but no threats to South Florida appear imminent, at least into next week.


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