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Hurricane Sally strengthens to Category 2 as it approaches Gulf Coast

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(NEW YORK) — Hurricane Sally has strengthened into a Category 2 storm and is expected to strike the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, as four other storms rock the Atlantic.

President Donald Trump approved emergency declarations for both Alabama and Mississippi Monday evening.

Sally is the seventh hurricane to form this season and was moving west-northwest with wind gusts up to 100 mph as of Monday evening. A “life threatening” storm surge up to 11 feet and rain up to 24 inches is expected to hit the Gulf Coast over the next 24 to 36 hours, according to the forecast.

As of 5 pm ET, the hurricane was about 105 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Sally is one of five tropical storms that are simultaneously moving through the Atlantic Ocean, an event that has not taken place in almost 50 years. A tropical wave is over the Gulf of Mexico, while Hurricane Paulette and Tropical Storms Rene, Teddy and Vicky are out further in the Atlantic Ocean.

Sally is expected to continue to strengthen over the next 24 hours before it makes landfall Tuesday. The current forecast has the storm making landfall near or east of Biloxi, Mississippi, on Tuesday evening as a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds.

Storm surge remains a big threat as Sally makes landfall. Because of its slow speed, more water could pile up in the bays and inlets along the Gulf Coast.

Hurricane warnings have been issued across eastern Louisiana, coastal Mississippi and Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. New Orleans, Biloxi, and Mobile are included in these warnings.

Flash flood watches extend as far north as Birmingham, Alabama, as Sally is expected to move slowly across the state through Wednesday with heavy rain.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a state of emergency, saying, “bad weather is nothing to take lightly.”

Biloxi Mayor Andrew Gilich ordered all casinos to close and urged residents to prepare for the storm.

“Please take action. Secure your property. Know that low-lying areas will see flooding, and we may have an interruption in power as the winds pick up. This is not our first rodeo, but residents need to have a plan and follow that plan,” Gilich said in a statement.

Storm surge warnings are in effect for Port Fourchon, Louisiana, to the Florida panhandle, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Lake Borgne, as well as Mobile Bay.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has deployed the Texas A&M Task Force 1 to Louisiana at the request of FEMA in preparation for Sally.

Flooding from rainfall is another major threat with Sally because of its slow speed, and some areas could see 15 to 20 inches of rain in the next several days.

Elsewhere, Hurricane Paulette hit Bermuda and is moving away from the island, leaving behind strong winds and torrential rain.

The hurricane is expected to head east and not make further landfall.

Elsewhere in the tropics, there is a new tropical storm, Teddy, which is forecast to become a major hurricane by this weekend.

The storm is moving in the general direction of Bermuda, but it is too early to say if Bermuda will get hit again.

Additionally, Tropical Storm Vicky has formed in the eastern Atlantic, becoming the 20th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season. That storm is currently in open ocean and not threatening any major landmass.

Vicky is the earliest 20th named storm on record. The previous record for reaching 20 named storms in a hurricane season was in 2005, on Oct. 5.

ABC News’ Ivan Pereira contributed to this report.

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