Hurricane Paulette is seen in the North Atlantic Ocean moving toward Bermuda, Sept. 13, 2020. (Credit: NOAA)
Hurricane Paulette is seen in the North Atlantic Ocean moving toward Bermuda, Sept. 13, 2020. (Credit: NOAA)

MIAMI, FLA. - Residents of Bermuda were urged to prepare to protect life and property ahead of Hurricane Paulette, which was forecast to become a dangerous hurricane Sunday as Tropical Storm Sally intensified in the Gulf of Mexico.

Paulette gained hurricane status late Saturday and was expected to bring storm surge, coastal flooding and high winds to Bermuda, according to a U.S. National Hurricane Center advisory.

Paulette had maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour that were expected to strengthen as the system charted a curved course toward Bermuda, forecasters said. The biggest threats were strong winds, storm surge, up to 15 centimeters of rain and life-threatening surf and rip currents. The storm was 500 kilometers southeast of the territory Sunday morning.

It's the strongest in terms of winds of six disturbances the center was tracking in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

A hurricane warning for Sally was issued Sunday morning from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and included metropolitan New Orleans. A storm surge warning and a tropical storm warning were also in effect for parts of the Gulf Coast.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Saturday, and officials in the New Orleans area issued a mandatory evacuation order for areas outside of levee protection.

The tropical storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 kilometers per hour with higher gusts, forecasters said. Sally was expected to strengthen into a hurricane Monday and reach the coast late Monday and Tuesday.

Storm surge from Sally was forecast to reach dangerous levels, due in part to the tide. Up to 3.4 meters of water was predicted from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Borgne.

A slow-moving storm, Sally could produce rain totals up to 51 centimeters by the middle of the week, forecasters said. The system was moving west-northwest at 20 kilometers per hour early Sunday. It was centered 190 kilometers west of Port Charlotte, Florida, and 550 kilometers east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Once a tropical storm, Rene was forecast to become a remnant low Monday. Tropical Depression Twenty was expected to strengthen this week and become a tropical storm by Tuesday, forecasters said.

Two other disturbances — one in the Gulf and another near the Cabo Verde Islands — had low and moderate chances of formation, respectively.