By Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Alabama Emergency Management Agency
CLANTON – As of 10 am CDT Saturday, October 7th, it appears Hurricane Nate will make landfall late tonight near or just west of Mobile Bay. Unfortunately this places Alabama on the east side of the storm with greater impacts. NOW is time to complete preparations. This is not JUST a coastal threat, as impacts will occur across much of Alabama.
The following is a breakdown of impacts based on current projections at landfall:
Sustained winds of 90 mph and gusts to 100 mph are currently forecast at landfall. This is the upper end of a Category 1, and Nate may still reach low end Category 2. The earliest arrival time of tropical storm winds will occur after 2 pm today to the AL coast, but most likely after 6 pm.
Inland, sustained winds of 30-40 mph will occur Sunday in an area roughly between I-20/59 and I-85. Maximum gusts as far north as Demopolis and Selma could reach 70 mph, with 50-60 mph elsewhere.
It is expected that these high winds will cause damage to buildings, and thousands of trees will likely be downed with numerous power outages. To put it in perspective, Irma barely produced 40 mph gusts in east Alabama, and thousands of trees were downed.
Storm surge will likely be 6-9 feet, possibly as high as 10 feet along the coastal sections, Mobile Bay region and barrier islands, lasting through early Sunday afternoon. Water rises could be sudden and recession slow in the two days following Nate’s passage. Beginning today, increasing swells along area beaches will result in high surf conditions, coastal flooding, and a high risk of rip currents.
Rainfall amounts have increased slightly since yesterday. Heaviest rainfall will generally be east of I20/59, with isolated amounts approaching 8 inches, especially in southwest AL.
A few tornadoes are possible both today and Sunday. For today, the main area will be the southern 1/3 of the state, and the southern 2/3 on Sunday.
All threats will have ended across the state by sunrise, Monday.