Tropical Storm Watches Upgraded to Warnings for Portions of Florida Panhandle

Tropical storm conditions are possible along Florida’s Emerald Coast and near Pensacola from Tropical Storm Sally within the next 48 hours. Sally is forecast to strengthen over the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, before making landfall along the central Gulf Coast Monday as a hurricane.

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As of 5 pm Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Sally was located 30 miles south-southwest of Naples, Florida and moving west at 7 mph. Maximum sustained winds were reported to be at 40 mph.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for coastal areas of the Florida Panhandle from the Alabama-Florida border to the Ochlockonee River. A Hurricane Watch and Storm Surge Watch has been issued for areas farther west, including all coastal areas of Alabama, Mississippi and southeast Louisiana.

Heavy rain is expected to continue falling from the Florida Keys to Fort Myers through Saturday night, where an additional 2 to 4 inches is possible through Sunday morning. Tropical storm conditions, including wind gusts up to 50 mph, high seas, heavy rain, and coastal flooding are possible from Florida Big Bend to Pensacola late Sunday night or Monday.

The average track error of a tropical system at 96 hours - which is when it could make landfall - is about 150 miles. The average forecast intensity error at the same time is a wind speed of 15 mph. For this reason, residents of the Florida Panhandle inside or near the watch area are encouraged to stay vigilant and be prepared should the forecast change.

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