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Hurricane Sally slows, gathering a deluge for the Gulf Coast

Hurricane Sally, a plodding storm with winds of 85 mph (137 kph), crept toward the northern Gulf Coast early Tuesday as forecasters warned of potentially deadly storm surges and flash floods with up to 2 feet (.61 meters) of rain and the possibility of tornadoes.

Forecasters stressed “significant” uncertainty as to where the storm’s eye would make landfall. But they kept nudging the predicted track eastward, easing fears in New Orleans, which was once in Sally’s crosshairs.

Lafayette County can expect a wet end of the week into Thursday and Friday this week from rain from Hurricane Sally. The trailing wind and rain can create dangerous thunderstorms or even tornadoes.

By early Tuesday, hurricane warnings stretched from the mouth of the Pearl River at the Louisiana-Mississippi line to Navarre, Florida, and forecasters said Sally should reach land near the Alabama-Mississippi state line by late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Stacy Stewart, a senior specialist with the National Hurricane Center, said Tuesday that people should continue to take the storm seriously since “devastating” rainfall is expected in large areas. People could drown in the flooding, he said.

“This is going to be historic flooding along with the historic rainfall,” Stewart said. “If people live near rivers, small streams and creeks, they need to evacuate and go somewhere else.”

In Gulfport, Mississippi, twin hurricane warning flags popped in the wind Tuesday morning at a marina and the sea had risen enough to cover an area normally used for bonfires in the sand. Most boat slips at the marina were empty, and many businesses in town were closed, metal storm shutters or plywood covering the windows.

Police in Pascagoula, Mississippi, tweeted video of rising seawater flowing across a coastal roadway. Another online video showed a few cars and SUVs stuck in a beachfront area on Dauphin Island, Alabama, their tires sunk deep into wet sand.

Hurricane Sally slows, gathering a deluge for the Gulf Coast