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Sally Makes Landfall/Turning Cooler on September 15-19, 2020
 
Hurricane Sally drifted (at 2 mph) toward the central Gulf Coast on 09/15/2020. The system was expected to make landfall the next morning. The forecast is courtesy of the National Hurricane Center.
In the picture: Hurricane Sally drifted (at 2 mph) toward the central Gulf Coast on 09/15/2020. The system was expected to make landfall the next morning. The forecast is courtesy of the National Hurricane Center.
 

Arkansas had already dealt with two tropical systems (Cristobal in June and Laura in August) in 2020, so there was a lot of interest in where Hurricane Sally would go in mid-September. In this case, Sally ended up well to the east along the central Gulf Coast.

 

In the video: Hurricane Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores, AL as a Category 2 storm (105 mph sustained winds) during the morning of 09/16/2020. The eye of Sally was clearly noted on the WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar).
 

Sally made landfall with 105 mph sustained winds (a Category 2 storm) near Gulf Shores, AL early on the 16th. A slow north to northeast drift at 2 to 3 mph caused rain to last for hours, and there was a lot of it.

 

Seventy two hour rainfall through 700 am CDT on 09/17/2020. One to more than two feet of rain dumped from far southern Alabama to the Florida panhandle.
In the picture: Seventy two hour rainfall through 700 am CDT on 09/17/2020. One to more than two feet of rain dumped from far southern Alabama to the Florida panhandle.
 

More than two feet of rain was unleashed in places from Orange Beach, AL to Pensacola, FL. At the latter location, the combination of too much precipitation and the third highest storm surge (5.6 feet) on record locally turned the city into a giant lake.

 

In the picture: It was a very bad situation from coastal Alabama to the Florida panhandle, with too much rain leading to a Flash Flood Emergency (issued by the National Weather Service in Mobile, AL) on 09/16/2020.
 

Very rare Flash Flood Emergencies were issued by the National Weather Service in Mobile, AL. Rising water flowed into homes and businesses, stranding hundreds of people and necessitating numerous rescues. Moderate to major flooding occurred along several area rivers. Residents along the Fish, Perdido, and Styx Rivers in Baldwin County, AL were asked to evacuate as these tributaries overflowed.

 

In the video: Boats were tossed like toys and there was a lot of flooding in Orange Beach, AL due to Hurricane Sally on 09/16/2020. The video is courtesy of Brian Emfinger via Twitter.
 

Other than the flooding, many boats were destroyed and power was knocked out to more than half a million homes. A large crane was dislodged from a barge and fell through a section of a bridge over Pensacola Bay. Just east of Gulf Shores, AL, a newly renovated fishing pier was damaged at Gulf State Park. This happened on the same day a ribbon cutting was scheduled to celebrate the renovation.

By the 18th, Tropical Storm Beta was in the Gulf of Mexico, and was headed for Texas. This was the twenty third named storm in the Atlantic basin, and five away from the record of twenty eight named storms in 2005. It was so busy in the tropics that all the names in the alphabet had already been used. When that happens, letters from the Greek alphabet are in play.

 

While the remnants of Hurricane Sally were dumping lots of rain in the Carolinas, a cold front passed through Arkansas from the north with little in the way of precipitation late on 09/17/2020 and early the next day.
In the picture: While the remnants of Hurricane Sally were dumping lots of rain in the Carolinas, a cold front passed through Arkansas from the north with little in the way of precipitation late on 09/17/2020 and early the next day.
 

Here at home, it was a much quieter situation. After missing out on fall weather earlier in the month as cool air failed to reach Arkansas from the Plains, a new cold front was set to push through the state from the north on the 17th/18th. Moisture was limited, so any rain was spotty along the front.

 

Low temperatures across Arkansas were in the upper 40s to around 60 degrees on 09/19/2020. Highs were in the 70s to around 80 degrees.
Low Temperatures (09/19)  |  High Temperatures (09/19)
In the pictures: Low temperatures across Arkansas were in the upper 40s to around 60 degrees on 09/19/2020. Highs were in the 70s to around 80 degrees.
 

The front was followed by a breezy northeast wind on the 18th. By the morning of the 19th, temperatures across much of the region were in the 50s, with some upper 40s in the northwest. Afternoon readings were in the 70s to around 80 degrees with low relative humidity (35 to 45 percent at most locales).