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Tropical Storm Sally Forms, Forecast to Strengthen over Eastern Gulf

The tropical depression that crossed South Florida early Saturday morning has intensified into Tropical Storm Sally. Sally is forecast to strengthen over the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, before making landfall along the central Gulf Coast Monday as a hurricane. As of 2 pm Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Sally was located 35 miles south-southeast of Naples, Florida and moving west at 7 mph. Maximum sustained winds were reported to be at 40 mph. A Tropical Storm Watch continues for coastal areas of the Florida Panhandle between the Ochlockonee River and Okaloosa/Walton county line. Additional tropical storm and hurricane watches will likely be issued later Saturday for areas farther west, including the greater Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans metro areas. Heavy rain is expected to continue falling from the Florida Keys to Fort Myers 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 beginning as early as Sunday evening. There continues to be some uncertainty in the eventual forecast track of Tropical Storm Sally, and while not likely at this point, hurricane conditions can not be ruled out along the Emerald Coast or Pensacola. 

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Jeff Huffman