Paulette rolls toward Bermuda; Sally threatens Gulf Coast

MIAMI (AP) — Residents of Bermuda were urged to prepare to protect life and property ahead of Hurricane Paulette, which forecasters said would grow into a dangerous storm as it approaches the territory yesterday.

Paulette gained hurricane status late Saturday and was expected to bring storm surge, coastal flooding and high winds to Bermuda over the coming days, according to a United States (US) National Hurricane Center advisory.

Paulette had maximum sustained winds of 120kph that were expected to intensify as the system charted a curved course toward Bermuda, according to the advisory. The biggest threats were strong winds, storm surge, up to 15 centimetres of rain and life-threatening surf and rip currents. The storm early yesterday was 535 kilometres southeast of the territory.

It’s the strongest in terms of winds of six disturbances the centre was tracking in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical Storm Sally was inching up from Florida to the Gulf Coast and prompted a hurricane watch from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Florida-Alabama border. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, and officials in the New Orleans area issued a mandatory evacuation order for areas outside of levee protection.

The formation of Tropical Storm Sally. PHOTO: AP

Sally had winds around 75kph with higher gusts, forecasters said. The tropical storm was expected to strengthen into a hurricane today and reach the warning area tomorrow.

Storm surge from Sally was forecast to reach dangerous levels, due in part to the tide. Up to 2.7 metres of water was predicted from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Borgne.

A slow moving storm, Sally could produce rain totals up to 46 centimetres by the middle of the week, forecasters said. The system was moving west-northwest at 13kph early yesterday. It was centred 130 kilometres west-southwest of Port Charlotte, Florida, and 620 kilometres east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Once a tropical storm, Rene was down to depression status by Saturday night. Tropical Depression Twenty was poorly organised in the Atlantic but expected to strengthen during the week, forecasters said.