Tropical Storm Sally strengthened into a category 1 hurricane on Monday as it gears toward the US Gulf Coast.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that the hurricane is currently at 135 miles (220 km) east-southeast of the Mouth of the Mississippi river, with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour (140 km/h).
“I know for a lot of people this storm seemed to come out of nowhere,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
“We need everybody to pay attention to this storm. Let’s take this one seriously.”
According to the forecasters from NHC in Miami, Sally is expected to become a hurricane on Monday and reach shore by early Tuesday.
It is also expected to increase the risk of heavy rain and dangerous storm surge before an expected strike as a Category 2 hurricane in southern Louisiana, bringing dangerous weather conditions, including risk of flooding, to a region stretching from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Edwards strongly urges people to immediately prepare for the slow-moving storm.
“Based on all of the available information, we have every reason to believe this storm represents a significant threat,” said Edwards, adding that the current pandemic adds complexity to storm preparations.
Resident Chris Yandle of Mandeville, New Orleans, said that he had purchased a week’s worth of groceries and moved all his patio furniture into his family’s house and shed in preparation for the storm.
“I’m mostly trying to stay calm — especially with a family of four and a dog to worry about,” he said.
“I’ve lived through many hurricanes growing up in Louisiana, but I haven’t felt this anxious about a hurricane in my life.”
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said that those living in low-lying areas in the coastal region and in south Mississippi must get out as early as Monday morning.