After Hanna, Isaias and Laura, Sally is the fourth hurricane to land in the United States this year – the hardest hit hurricane in 16 years.
Upon landing, it was downgraded to a tropical storm and weakened to a tropical depression by Wednesday evening. Despite the loss of strength, the floods remained a problem as they soaked southeast Alabama and central Georgia on Thursday. From there it will move to South Carolina this evening.
Anywhere it goes it is likely to cause catastrophic flooding.
Florida sees four months of rain in four hours
While Sally has been weakened since landing, her devastation will be felt in various states. At least eight rivers in southwest Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle are expected to reach major stages of flooding.
“We had 30 inches of rain in Pensacola ̵
According to forecasters, rainfall levels of 10 to 35 inches are possible from Mobile Bay to Tallahassee, Florida.
In Pensacola and other parts of Florida, where rivers were approaching dangerous levels and fallen trees and power lines made roads dangerous, counties put curfews in place to ensure the safety of residents.
Escambia County, which also includes Pensacola, urged residents to stay home so crews can evaluate roads and bridges. Local law enforcement agencies will enforce twilight until curfew for three nights starting Wednesday.
“We are still on an evaluation and life-saving recovery mission and we must be able to get this job done,” said County Commissioner Robert Bender. “We’re still evaluating our roads and bridges to make sure they’re safe.”
The crews rescued 377 people near the Alabama state line and feared many more could be at risk in the coming days, said Jason Rogers, the county’s public safety director.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the danger was far from over, warning that “pretty much every body of water in northwest Florida” could see levels spike in the next few days due to Sally.
“There will be a lot of property damage,” he added. “When you see downtown Pensacola, you see three feet of water there, and that will likely affect any business in downtown Pensacola – there just aren’t two options.”
Alabama warned against staying vigilant
In Gulf Shores, near where the hurricane landed, Doris Stiers assessed the damage outside of her beach house. She was stunned.
“Looks like a war zone,” she told CNN. “A lot of destruction, destroyed houses, roofs that disappeared. I had no service, electricity or internet. Bad night.”
Orange Beach-resident Matt Wilson, who rode the storm at home, said it was terrifying.
Alabama officials warned residents should not disappoint their guard even after the storm subsided.
“The storm may have left our local area, but it is important to remain vigilant as many areas are still affected by ongoing flooding,” the National Weather Service tweeted in Mobile.
What’s next in Florida and Alabama?
Sally has been downgraded to a Tropical Depression with sustained winds of about 35 miles per hour. Rainfall is still a significant threat, and its risks are not confined to Florida and Alabama.
For much of the coastline and lower lying areas from Mississippi to Florida, compulsory evacuations have been ordered and accommodations have been opened for evacuees.
Southeast Alabama and central Georgia could see 4 to 12 inches of rain, with significant flash floods possible. Parts of South Carolina are expected to receive 4 to 10 inches of rain, said CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford.
West to central North Carolina and far southeast of Virginia could see up to 8 inches in remote areas, he added.
“We have already seen significant flooding in parts of Alabama from that rain band. Please remember, turn around, don’t drown,” the Atlanta National Weather Service tweeted.
In addition to rain, Sally’s path has a low risk of severe weather, with the possibility of isolated tornadoes, “Shackelford said.
CNN’s Nicole Chavez, Jason Hanna and Tina Burnside contributed to this report.