Hurricane Sally landed early Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Alabama, threatening record floods more than 24 hours after it began dumping heavy rain on the Gulf Coast.
The National Hurricane Center on Wednesday warned of “catastrophic” and “life-threatening” floods along parts of the north-central Gulf Coast. Precipitation can last up to two days.
Sally landed as a Category 2 storm with winds up to 105 mph and a creeping, slow pace that makes prolonged rainfall a major threat.
The painful storm moved painfully slowly around 2 mph, hitting parts of Florida and the Alabama coast with heavy rainfall and winds Tuesday as many residents reported power outages and tried to protect their homes and businesses.
“Hurricane Sally is nothing to take for granted. We are looking at record floods, perhaps breaking historic levels, and with rising water comes a greater risk of loss of life and property loss,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey warned on Twitter Tuesday.
Ivey urged residents to either prepare for possible evacuations or seek safe shelter when the turbulent storm emerged.
Forecasts warned that areas from the western Florida Panhandle to southeastern Mississippi could see up to 30 inches of rain. The National Hurricane Center predicted water levels of six to nine feet from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to Dauphin Island, Alabama, whose peak storm surge coincides with high tide.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted Tuesday that he had declared a state of emergency in 13 northwest Florida counties as Sally approached. “Floridians in these counties should prepare for strong winds and severe flooding,” he warned.
On Monday, President Donald Trump issued emergency declarations for parts of the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and ordered federal assistance due to Hurricane Sally’s emergency.
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The storm, which will begin to pick up speed, is expected to move inland across southeastern Alabama later tonight and into Thursday.
Sally is also expected to bring heavy rainfall to parts of the Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas later this week.
“A hurricane moving at 2 km / h has stopped altogether,” Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, told the Associated Press. “If they don’t move together and they just kind of sit there, you get a ridiculous amount of rain.”
Forecasts warned that tornadoes were also possible Wednesday over the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama.
Earlier in the week, Louisiana and Mississippi collided with Sally, but as the hurricane changed course slightly, forecasts predicted they would largely be spared the storm.
Sally had already emptied some areas Tuesday night with more than a foot of rain, leaving more than 80,000 customers without power in Alabama and Florida as the storm hit its way toward landing.
This year’s hurricane season – which does not end for another 2 months – has already been one of the busiest on record. Forecasts have almost run through the alphabet with names.
Early Wednesday morning, another storm, Teddy, was quickly upgraded to a hurricane with sustained winds of 90 mph. The storm is still in the middle of the Atlantic, hundreds of miles from land, but is expected to become a catastrophic Category 4 and possibly reach Bermuda this weekend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Adela Suliman the contribution.