Keesler at HURCON 3 as Hurricane Sally Moves on Gulf Coast

Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., stepped up its hurricane preparedness level to HURCON 3, warning base personnel to expect potentially destructive winds within 48 hours, as Hurricane Sally veered north on Sept. 14. Sally is a slow-moving but rapidly strengthening Category 1 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico with winds up to 90 mph, and which may become a Category 2 storm before making landfall in Mississippi on the morning of Sept. 16.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration posted hurricane warnings for the entirety of the Mississippi and Alabama coasts and the southeastern coastal areas of Louisiana on September 14, and tropical storm warnings for the western Florida panhandle. The hurricane warnings affect Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans and Keesler, while the tropical storm warnings affect Florida facilities at Hurlburt Field, Eglin Air Force Base, and Tyndall Air Force Base.

An Air Force Reserve WC-130J “hurricane hunter” aircraft from Keesler has flown into the storm to characterize it.     

NOAA said Sally could bring between eight and 16 inches of rain to the Gulf Coast, with as much as 24 inches closest to the storm center. The hurricane could produce an 11-foot storm surge in some areas, and the National Hurricane Center said severe flash floods across the region are likely.

The local National Weather Service office in Mobile, Ala. posted warnings of dangerous surf and severe rip currents off the Mississippi coast, urging residents to stay out of the water and off the beaches.

HURCON 3 alerts Airmen and their families that they should secure loose objects outside their homes, take protective measures, stay tuned for status alerts, and make preparations for possible evacuation or moving to a shelter.