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How slow movement of Hurricane Sally could create ‘dangerous’ conditions

The Gulf Coast of the United States is bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Sally, expected to hit east of New Orleans with up to two feet of rain. A separate hurricane struck Bermuda on Monday, and two more storms are currently brewing in the Atlantic. Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, joins Stephanie Sy to discuss why the slow-moving Sally represents a real danger.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: The U.S. Gulf Coast battened down for Hurricane Sally's arrival later tonight. It's expected to hit east of New Orleans, with up to two feet of rain. Another hurricane struck Bermuda today, and two more are brewing in the Atlantic.

    We get more from Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center.

    He spoke with our Stephanie Sy earlier.

    Ken Graham, thank you so much for joining us.

    The governor of Louisiana said that, for a lot of people, Hurricane Sally seemed to have come out of nowhere, rapidly forming into a hurricane just in the last day. What is the — current forecast can you tell us about where it is heading and how strong it will be?

  • Ken Graham:

    Yes, looking at 100 mile-an-hour winds right now, so, significant hurricane.

    And, actually, looking at this, I mean, the tropical storm-force winds extend out over 100 miles, but the real story here is slow, and that is a big problem. So, if you think about this being 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, this is 1:00 p.m. Wednesday.

    In 24 hours, that's not a lot of movement. So, the problem is, with a slow storm like that, that just compounds the issues with rainfall. Storm surge. It's going to be water. You're going to see that storm surge from Louisiana all the way back to Florida and torrential dangerous rains as well from Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, even into Georgia.

    So, significant issue with the water, slow storms, that just compounds the issues.

  • Stephanie Sy:


    And a lot of times, there's focus on the center of the hurricane and when it hits landfall. With Hurricane Sally, are we more concerned with the prolonged impacts?

  • Ken Graham:


    Let's look at that. So, you have the cone. So, the cone really is where two-thirds of the time we expect to have the center, but the impacts are well outside of it. I mean, you look at this rainfall, well outside of the cone. That's a huge area of rainfall.

    But the other part of this is the dangerous storm surge. That's historically the leading cause of fatalities in these tropical systems. So, you look at some of these values, from Southeast Louisiana, to portions of the Mississippi coast seven to 11 feet, but even six to nine feet, four to six feet, five to eight in Mobile Bay, so from Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, the Mississippi coast to Louisiana, just dangerous storm surge.

    And that — it makes it very dangerous to travel. And a lot of those areas, if the local officials tell you to leave, it's just so important to not be in those dangerous locations.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    I know you all were predicting a very active season. You're now monitoring five Atlantic cyclones at the same time, only the second time in recorded history for that to happen, even running out of names for these hurricanes.

    Ken Graham have with the National Hurricane Center, thank you so much for the latest.

  • Ken Graham:

    Thank you.

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