Hurricane Sally forms off US Gulf Coast, threatening southern states

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Media captionHurricane Paulette moves across Bermuda whilst Sally strengthens on approach to US

A newly formed hurricane is inching towards the US Gulf Coast, threatening several southern US states including Florida, Mississippi and Alabama.

Tropical Storm Sally was officially declared a hurricane on Monday, and is expected to make landfall on Tuesday.

The hurricane will bring over one foot (30cm) of rain and 85mph (135km/h) winds to some areas, with the potential of deadly storm surges, officials say.

This year’s hurricane season has been particularly active.

For only the second time in recorded history, there are five tropical storms churning in the Atlantic basin at the same time.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, whose state is still recovering from Hurricane Laura last month, tweeted on Monday to warn residents to “be smart and be safe”.

Alabama and Mississippi each declared states of emergency in anticipation of the category one hurricane, which on Monday was located 175 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi, and moving towards land at a rate of 6mph.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the storm had shifted and was not expected to directly hit Louisiana, but could still cause storm surges that can trigger major floods.

In New Orleans, residents who live outside the city’s levee protection system have been ordered to evacuate their homes.

As of Monday, almost 80,000 homes in Louisiana were without power as a result of Hurricane Laura, which hit three weeks earlier.

In addition to Sally, there are four other tropical cyclones – Paulette, Rene, Teddy and Vicky – swirling in the Atlantic Ocean basin.

If only one more storm is officially named – Wilfred has already been chosen – meteorologists will begin naming new storms after the Greek alphabet.

Climate change experts attribute the pace of major hurricane development this year – as well as the severity of wildfires currently sweeping the US West Coast – to the effects of climate change.

BBC News