Tropical Storm Sally is expected to strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall on the Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Its current track has it heading toward South Carolina by the end of the week, where its effects will be felt in the Midlands, according to the National Weather Service office in Columbia.
The storm will be far removed from hurricane strength when it rolls through Columbia, and could be a tropical depression, meteorologist Whitney Smith told The State on Sunday.
But heavy rainfall and powerful winds are possible in the Midlands, if the current forecast holds up, Smith said.
“By the time it got to us, it would be much weaker,” Smith said. “There’s still uncertainty. It’s several days out.”
The forecast shows Sally affecting the Columbia area on Thursday, likely in the afternoon. By Friday the storm should move out of the area, according to Smith.
Sally could cause anywhere from a quarter, to three-quarters, of an inch of rain in the Midlands, Smith said. While the threat is minimal, Smith could not rule out the possibility of tornadoes.
“It doesn’t look significant,” Smith said. “It will be the typical showers and thunderstorms for this time of year.”
Sally is following a similar path as Hurricane Laura, through the Gulf Coast toward South Carolina. While that hurricane was a deadly storm in Louisiana, its effects were greatly minimized when it reached the Midlands. The same is predicted for Sally’s impact on Columbia.
The forecast shows a 40-60 percent chance of rain on Thursday and Friday, and high temperatures are expected to remain in the low 80s.
Like Laura, Sally’s affects on the Midlands won’t be as significant as those of Tropical Storm Isaias, which dumped significant rainfall as it rumbled through the region at the beginning of August.
Headed to Louisiana
That outlook is a far cry from what is anticipated along the Louisiana coast, where Sally is expected to make landfall Monday night or Tuesday. New Orleans and surrounding areas were placed under a hurricane watch and some evacuations were ordered, the Associated Press reported.
On Sunday afternoon, Sally had moved west of Florida, and had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The Atlantic Ocean is busy with storm activity. Following Sally, there are four other storms that range in strength from a disturbance to an active hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The next closest to the east coast is Hurricane Paulette, which is predicted to turn north before reaching the U.S. It doesn’t look like it will have any affect on the Midlands, according to Smith.
Paulette became a hurricane late Saturday as it bore down on Bermuda, threatening to bring dangerous storm surge, coastal flooding and high winds to the territory, the AP reported.
The meteorologist said it’s still too to tell if Tropical Depression Rene, or the other storms off the African coast will develop into something that could cause severe weather in the Columbia area.