Tropical Storm Sally left more than half a million Americans without electricity as the pouring rain and storm surges hit the US Gulf Coast.
Sally weakened after landing as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday, but the slow storm continues to hit Florida and Alabama.
One person was killed and hundreds rescued from flooded areas.
Pensacola, Florida, was badly hit when a loose barge overturned part of the Bay Bridge.
“Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding continues to affect parts of the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama,”
The storm brought “four months of rain in four hours” to the city, Pensacola fire chief Ginny Cranor told CNN.
One person died and another was missing in the city of Orange Beach, Alabama, the mayor said without giving further details.
Sally landed in Gulf Shores, Alabama at 4:45 a.m. local time on Wednesday with a maximum wind speed of 169 km / h.
Category 2 hurricanes have endured winds of 96 to 110 miles per hour, according to the NHC. According to the NHC, the “extremely dangerous winds” of a Category 2 storm usually cause damage to homes and shallow-rooted trees.
The storm later turned into a tropical depression, the winds of which dropped to 35 mph, but it was the torrents of rainfall and high storm surges that did the most damage.
As the storm moved north from the coast, around 550,000 residents in the affected areas were left in the dark on Wednesday evening, according to local reports.
Sally is one of several storms in the Atlantic. Officials run out of letters to name the hurricanes as they near the end of their annual alphabetical list.
What’s the latest about damage?
Precipitation is measured in feet rather than inches in some locations, but many areas have measured 45 cm (18 inches).
Flooding to a depth of 5 feet hit the center of Pensacola. The storm surge was the third worst to ever hit the city. The police told people not to go out to see the damage and said, “This is slowing our progress. Please stay home!”
Although the winds did not have the devastating force of the deadly Hurricane Laura that hit last month, they still tore boats from moorings and sent a barge into the Bay Bridge under construction. They were certainly high enough to topple high sided vehicles.
Another barge came loose and went to the Escambia Bay Bridge, but luckily ran ashore.
The Escambia County sheriff said he wasn’t expecting the devastation Sally caused.
Cavin Hollyhand, 50, who lives in Mobile, Alabama, told Reuters, “The rain is what stands out on this one: it’s unreal.”
On the border between Florida and Alabama there is still “the risk of life-threatening flooding,” said the NHC.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said many areas around Mobile were experiencing historic flooding and urged people to heed warnings.
The pier in Gulf State Park, Alabama was severely damaged.
The latest information on power outages on the poweroutage.us website lists 290,000 unpowered customers in Alabama and 253,000 more in Florida.
In addition to the fall of pylons, many trees were uprooted.
It appeared to be raining sideways in Alabama, resulting in submerged roads as the storm landed. Other areas along the coast were also affected, with beaches and highways in Mississippi and low-lying properties in Louisiana covered by the rising waters.
Alabama, Florida and Mississippi all declared a state of emergency before the storm.
Is climate change causing the slow pace of the storm?
John De Block of the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, told the New York Times that Sally was “floating in a candy store at the speed of a child.”
According to experts, Sally’s pace could be related to climate change. A 2018 study by Nature Magazine found that the speed at which hurricanes and tropical storms move across an area decreased by 10% between 1949 and 2016, which was linked to an increase in total precipitation.
“Sally has a trait that is not often seen and that is a slow forward speed that will make the flooding worse,” NHC deputy director Ed Rappaport told the Associated Press.
In addition to Sally, there are four other tropical cyclones – Paulette, Rene, Teddy and Vicky – that swirl around in the Atlantic Basin.
If only one storm is officially named – Wilfred has already been selected – meteorologists will run out of preselected names for the rest of the year and so begin naming new storms using the Greek alphabet.