The winds of Hurricane Sally hit Pensacola, Florida, and its slow pace means the rains will bring “catastrophic and life-threatening floods”
PENSACOLA, Florida – Hurricane Sally jumped ashore early Wednesday after intensifying into a Category 2 storm overnight, drenching the Gulf Coast with heavy rainfall and historic flooding.
Sally’s high winds hit Florida and Alabama as the center moves near the state line from the morning onwards, but flooding as the slow storm triggered heavy rains has proven Sally’s greatest threat: “Historical and catastrophic floods, including widespread moderate to large river floods, unfolds, “say forecasters.
Photos and videos from coastal areas showed fallen trees, debris and boats thrown around, and roads flooded. Most of downtown Pensacola, Florida was underwater. At around 9 a.m. local time, a water level station in the city reported flooding about 5.5 feet above sea level, the National Hurricane Center said.
Flash flood emergencies and rescue efforts were underway in parts of southeast Alabama and the Florida Panhandle as the storm could throw up to 35 inches of rain into isolated pockets.
Sally landed near Gulf Shores, Alabama at 4:45 a.m. with winds of 105 miles per hour. The center of the storm, which accelerates 5 miles per hour as it moves north to northeast, will travel across southeast Alabama and the Florida Panhandle by early Thursday and weaken to a tropical depression by Thursday morning.
Some other important developments:
- Sally is expected to head inland through southeast Alabama Wednesday night before reaching Georgia on Thursday and the Carolinas on Friday.
- Parts of Alabama and Florida could fall about 10 to 20 inches of rain, with insulated bags growing up to 35 inches.
- Sally is the eighth storm to land in the continental United States this year – the storm through September 16 in history.
- According to the utility tracker poweroutage.us, around 500,000 households and companies are without electricity.
Here’s a look at the latest news with Hurricane Sally:
Downtown Pensacola largely underwater
Much of downtown Pensacola was underwater on Wednesday morning. The floods turned streets into white capped rivers and fallen trees that entered Palafox Street. The city center was mostly empty except for the police and a few brave onlookers.
Nick Zangari, owner of New York’s Nick’s Badlands Bar, sat in the doorway of his dark, empty bar on Palafox and looked out at the street. Zangari has been at the bar since Monday and said he wanted to keep an eye on his building. But he didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was overnight on Tuesday.
A few blocks down on Jefferson Street, flood cars were pounding around the Holiday Inn Express and the Pensacola Little Theater. The flood was more like the Gulf of Mexico when winds swirled the water.
You could see people standing on the hotel porch, trapped and overlooking the water that used to be a parking lot.
– Annie Blanks, Pensacola News Journal | 10:15 a.m. CT
The Cajun Navy provides an initial overview of damage to Alabama’s Orange Beach
The United Cajun Navy has boots on the ground in Orange Beach, investigating the damage so far caused by the Category 2 storm.
The nonprofit, which is dedicated to providing relief efforts and equipping rescue teams for areas hit by natural disasters, posted a video on Facebook showing storm surges and severe flooding on roads and an overturned boat on the roadside next to a refrigerator.
– Daniella Medina, Montgomery Advertiser | 9 a.m. CT
Alabama: Rescue operations underway, severe damage to homes and businesses
Rescue teams are working to pull people out of their homes damaged by Hurricane Sally and amid massive flooding, said senior forecaster David Eversole of the National Weather Service in Mobile.
“There are currently two flash flood emergencies for Baldwin on the coast as far as Fort Walton Beach,” he said.
Eversole said he had received reports of damage to several condominiums in the Gulf Shores area, as well as damage to the surf shop and the Pink Pony Pub. Debris in Orange Beach spilled against some condos as a boat floated between some buildings.
“We know that people are being saved and we know that there is serious damage to property,” he said.
– Kirsten Fiscus, Montgomery Advertiser | 8:10 a.m. CT
Hurricane Sally bears eerie similarities to Ivan – 16 years later
Sally’s path and landing is eerily similar to Hurricane Ivan, which landed on the same day – September 16 – in 2004, 16 years ago, at almost exactly the point where Sally is expected to land. Ivan was a major Category 3 storm and devastated the area.
– Annie Blanks, Pensacola News Journal | 8 p.m. CT
The Flora-Bama beach bar survived Hurricane Sally
Not even the wet and windy Hurricane Sally could knock the Flora-Bama down. The “most famous beach bar in the country” is still standing, according to a photo and caption released by the United Cajun Navy on Wednesday morning at 5:23 a.m. CT. The voluntary rescue group is currently organizing relief measures in the Escambia district.
The photo shows no visible damage to the roof or walls, but shows rising water around the bar on the Alabama-Florida border.
– Daniella Medina, Pensacola News Journal | 8 p.m. CT
Flood rescue workers in Okaloosa County, Florida.
Rescue workers from Okaloosa County were called in early Wednesday when Sally caused flooding that required emergency evacuations in some areas.
“We are receiving reports of flooded streets and houses and are actively involved in water rescues and evacuations,” Patrick Maddox, director of public safety for Okaloosa, told county officials in a 4am update.
County spokesman Christopher Saul said 543 people at the southern end of Okaloosa county were “in need of evacuation,” and rescue workers had managed to help 79 people evacuate from the Baker area.
– Tom McLaughlin, Northwest Florida Daily News | 7:30 a.m. CT
Hurricane Sally drops 30 inches of rain on Pensacola
The National Weather Service in Mobile reported a trained spotter who estimated an estimated 30 inches of rain to be in northwest Pensacola. NAS Pensacola recorded 24.8 inches of rain and gusts of wind up to 92 miles per hour.
The weather service issued a “rare” flash flood emergency warning on Wednesday.
“It’s when we have a flash flood that poses a significant risk to life and property,” said Dave Eversole, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, rescuing people from cars. Like a tornado emergency, it is one of our two most serious warnings. “
Interstate 10 to the east and west at the Escambia Bay Bridge is also closed due to strong persistent winds.
– Annie Blanks, Pensacola News Journal | 7:30 a.m. CT
Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel in Pensacola
Jim Cantore, the famous Weather Channel weatherman, was in Pensacola early Wednesday to follow the storm. Cantore is known for covering some of the worst weather situations in the country.
He tweeted a video of high winds blowing through the city on Wednesday morning and footage from the weather channel showed he was struck by the heavy rain.
– Annie Blanks, Pensacola News Journal | 6:30 a.m. CT
Sally is the eighth storm to land this year
According to Phil Klotzbach, a researcher and meteorologist at Colorado State University, Sally is the eighth named storm to land in the continental United States this year – the largest in recorded history through September 16, surpassing the seven storms of 1916 .
The record for the most continental US landings in a single Atlantic season is nine, also in 1916. The center of Sally’s Eye landed near Gulf Shores, Alabama at around 4:45 am local time.
– John Bacon, USA TODAY | 4:45 a.m. CT
Chasing Sally: Here’s the latest on the hurricane trail
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released its hurricane forecasts for 2018. Here’s what you need to know.
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