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Forecasters: Sally could approach major hurricane status

Here are the latest developments on tropical weather (all times local):

4:10 p.m.

Forecasters say Sally, now an extremely dangerous Category 2 hurricane, could approach major hurricane strength as it nears the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The National Hurricane Center said Monday that Sally has recently strengthened and developed an inner core, while the warm waters of the Gulf favor additional strengthen in the coming hours. The hurricane is currently packing 100-mph (155-kph) winds as it meanders offshore.

The Miam-based forecasting center said sustained winds of around 110 mph (177 kph) are now expected just before the hurricane makes landfall. That is just shy of a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which is capable of catastrophic damage.

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4:05 p.m.

Sea water and sand have already washed onto roads on one end of Dauphin Island off the coast of Alabama as Hurricane Sally veers nearer to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Dauphin Island Mayor said late Monday afternoon that several cars have been lost to the rising waters.

He said emergency officials drove a Humvee to evacuate about 12 to 15 people from one area of the isalnd. He said at least four cars had already been overtaken by ocean water and sand from the storm surge already washing onto part of the island.

“We weren’t able to move the vehicles, they were already stuck in the sand,” he said. No one was hurt in the group of people evacuated — which included an infant, several adults.

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4 p.m.

A rapidly intensifying Hurricane Sally is closing in on the northern Gulf Coast Sally after reaching Category 2 strength.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Sally has grown into an extremely dangerous hurricane with top sustained winds of 100 mph (155 kph). The hurricane was centered at 4 p.m. CDT about 105 miles (170 kilometers) east of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was also about 145 miles (230 kilometers) southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi.

The center said a hurricane warning is in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Navarre on the Florida Panhandle and also in areas including metropolitan New Orleans and nearby lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas.

Sally is one of five storms churning simultaneously in the Atlantic.

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