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Hurricane Sally, Western wildfires, Federal Reserve talks interest rates: 5 things to know Wednesday


Editors  |  USA TODAY

Rainmaker Hurricane Sally's slow grind means it could bring 'historic' flooding

Hurricane Sally intensified to a Category 2 storm early Wednesday as it made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama updated 6:45 a.m., threatening to bring heavy rains and "historic life-threatening flooding" from southeastern Louisiana to Florida's Panhandle. Forecasters say Sally, the eighth named storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. this year, could bring 10 to 20 inches of rain from the Florida Panhandle to southeast Mississippi, with some isolated pockets of rain up to 30 inches. The storm's dangers will be felt for miles with hurricane warnings in effect from east of Bay St. Louis, Louisiana, to Navarre, Florida. “There is going to be historic flooding along with the historic rainfall,” Stacy Stewart, a senior specialist with the Hurricane Center, said Tuesday. “If people live near rivers, small streams and creeks, they need to evacuate and go somewhere else.”  

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Gulf Coast preps for Hurricane Sally after Hurricane Laura destruction
Less than a month after Hurricane Laura, Tropical Storm Sally strengthens to a hurricane as it heads toward southeastern Louisiana.

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Progress seen in Western wildfires, but unhealthy smoke will linger

The National Interagency Fire Center said Tuesday some progress has been made against the historic wildfires that have engulfed the West Coast as six large fires have been contained. But the smoke hasn't let up across the West Coast as people in Oregon, Washington state and California have been struggling for a week or longer under some of the most unhealthy air on the planet and it's expected to linger Wednesday. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has already extended an alert regarding the Air Quality Index (AQI) to Thursday. Major League Baseball was forced to move the two-game series between the San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners in Seattle that was scheduled to start Tuesday to San Francisco on Wednesday and Thursday because of poor air quality in Western Washington caused by the fires. The air quality is expected to reach unhealthy levels in the Bay Area Wednesday as well, but it's better overall.  

ACM Awards: Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Luke Combs to perform

For the first time in its history, the Academy of Country Music Awards show is coming to Nashville, airing Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Three famed Nashville venues will serve as hosts for the 55th annual awards show: the Ryman Auditorium, Bluebird Cafe and Grand Ole Opry House. The move comes after the Academy was forced to postpone its 2020 ceremony — originally planned for April 5 in Las Vegas — due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The show will host a slew of country music A-listers, including Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Luke Combs and Maren Morris. Keith Urban is slated to host the show. 

Fed to keep rates near zero?

All eyes will be on the Federal Reserve Wednesday as it upgrades its forecasts and roadmaps the course the economy, labor market and inflation could take during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the biggest questions this week? Interest rates. Economists had expected the Fed to revise its guidance for how long its federal funds rate will stay near zero, based on the new policy framework. Now, the Fed says near-zero rates will prevail until the Fed “is confident that the economy has weathered recent events." 

Big Ten football decision expected

An official announcement could arrive Wednesday as Big Ten conference leaders are expected to approve an eight-game, nine-week schedule. This development comes a month after the conference decided to postpone its football season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 outbreaks have hindered the start of the 2020 college football season for those conferences that opted to go on with their seasons. Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank said Tuesday that the Big Ten conference will not try to plan a delayed season until it has answers to the health questions that prompted the postponement. The Big Ten season could start as soon as Oct. 17. 

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How will delayed season affect Big Ten long term?
USA TODAY Sports' Paul Myerberg breaks down the status of the Big Ten following a decision to delay the season.

Contributing: The Associated Press